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Top-level business motoring: Ford Focus Vignale first drive

All-new Ford Focus


2 July 2018

Ford Focus  Vignale 1.5 EcoBlue Auto diesel

  • P11D Value: £27,550
  • Company car tax band: 28%
  • BIK tax: £129 (20%) / £257 (40%)
  • Five-door hatchback
  • 182bhp/300Nm, 1.5-litre 4cyl diesel/6-spd manual box
  • Economy (comb)/CO2: 64.2mpg/116g/km
  • Performance: 10.2sec/120mph

Ford Focus Vignale 1.0L EcoBoost 125PS

  • P11D Value:£TBA
  • Company car tax band:24%
  • BIK tax: £115 (20%) / £229 (40%)
  • Five-door hatchback
  • 182bhp/300Nm, 1.5-litre 3cyl diesel/6-spd manual box
  • Economy (comb)/CO2: 47.9/126g/km
  • Performance:11.1sec/121mph

THE Ford Focus has always held massive appeal for those large company car fleets. It has always provided good to drive and good value motoring for company car drivers.

But with the all-new model, Ford has an eye on SMEs and user-choosers with a couple of more personalised versions.

2018 FORD FOCUS DRIVE VIGNALEFor the first time the Focus will be available in upscale Vignale trim – due in the autumn – and an Active crossover version with elevated ground clearance. This includes protective black wheel arch and rocker cladding, plus front and rear skid plates.

Focus Active arrives sometime in 2019.

Hugely popular in the UK since launch in 1998, more than 2 million Focuses have been sold here and it has been in Britain’s top two best-selling cars with Fiesta for every year.

Now Ford has rubbed out the old and started with the proverbial clean sheet of paper with what it calls ‘human centric’ design.

What’s that then?

Human centric  design: it’s a whole bunch of technology gizmos aimed at making life behind the wheel easier and better connected while taking a further step towards autonomy.

It will do all the stuff you see in many cars these days, helping you to steer, see what’s around you and park and now it can even detect potholes for you.

Sounds great: the system is part of Continuously Controlled Damping which monitors inputs to improve ride quality and reduce the impact of striking potholes.

Design director Amko Leenarts believes the Focus is the best car he has been involved with. He said:

“We have been obsessed with detail, if you add up all the hours put in by every member of the design team it would span 12 years. This means we have been able to achieve a longer wheelbase, a lower, wider body and shorter overhangs all without increasing the size of the car.

2018 FORD FOCUS DRIVE VIGNALE“Interior space has been increased by pushing the instrument panel forward and lowering the centre console which has given us more shoulder and knee room. We have also reduced complexity with 50% fewer buttons.”

How much of the technology is standard?

Lead-in model is the Focus Style at £17,930 which features 16-in alloy wheels, air conditioning, DAB digital radio with Bluetooth and emergency assist, electronic parking brake, autonomous emergency braking, tyre pressure monitoring, hill start assist and lane-keeping.

The Zetec (£19,300) adds Ford’s SYNC3 DAB radio with a 6.5-in touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality, cruise control, from fog lights and heated windscreen.

Titanium (£21,550) brings in front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, dual zone climate control, keyless entry and start, a larger 8-in colour touchscreen, satnav and FordPass Connect wireless connectivity.

Titanium X has partial leather trim, a power adjustable driver’s seat, privacy glass and 17-in alloys for an additional £1,270.

The sporty ST-Line and ST-Line X (£21,570 and £24,050) add mainly go-faster styling tweaks and 18-in alloys on the X.

Of more interest to SMEs and user-choosers will be the Vignale featuring those larger wheels, full LED lighting front and rear, leather upholstery, head up display, rear view camera, heated steering wheel and 675-watt 10-speaker B&O Play Premium Audio  – and, get this, it will also be available in an exclusive dark mulberry body colour! Yours for £24,450. The fancy audio system is available as a £350 option on Titanium, Titanium X and ST-Line X models.

Those prices all sound reasonable, but they are the basic recommended retail price without VAT. Once customs and excise get involved the base models now come in at tad under £18K while the Vignale tops out just north of £30,000.

Head up display on the new Ford Focus

There’s a good bundle of technologies that have to be bought in as extras such as: Speed Sign Recognition, Adaptive Front Lighting with predictive curve light, automatic high beam lowering, Parking Assist, Pre-collision Assist with pedestrian and cyclist protection, Evasive Steering Assist, Blind Spot monitoring, Post Collision Braking can add several more thousands to the price.

What’s under the bonnet and how does it go?

Powertrain options include the latest version of Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost and new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, both featuring cylinder deactivation for three cylinder engines.

There are new 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesels and a new intelligent 8-speed automatic transmission which apparently adapts shift patterns to suit driving style.

The Focus has certainly lost none of its fine handling and now feels even smoother and tighter even over rough surfaces.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol is an outstanding engine, pulling cleanly and evenly without any intrusive noise or vibration – not a lot to choose between that or the 1.5-litre diesel I also tried.

Wide angle reversing camera

Both cars were in Vignale trim and specification is high enough not to warrant buying in too many of those extras. The head-up display was particularly useful negating the need to constantly look down at the dials.

It’s spacious as well, even with 6+ footer like me in the driving seat there’s a good amount of legroom in the rear.


Verdict on the Ford Focus Vignale

This latest Focus really moves the whole Focus game on. The styling looks good, the running costs are brilliantly contained by frugal engines, and company car tax exposure is handled well by the range of engine choices: you can flex how much you wish to pay by your engine choice.

And in this latest Vignale upmarket version, there’s a real business motoring choice for SME business drivers.

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Chris Wright

Chris Wright

Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to

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