RAC

Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet

Introduction

Is Ford's Focus Coupe-Cabriolet a car for all seasons and all reasons? June Neary decides'.

Will It Suit Me?

These days, it seems that every mainstream manufacturer has to have an affordable cabriolet with a folding metal hard-top. And it seems that most of the people driving the sales surge for these cars are women. So it fell to my lot recently to check out Ford's offering in this burgeoning sector, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet. Early cars of this kind looked like what they were: models designed around a folding roof - never a good way to go about creating a desirable shape. Of late however, the designers and the engineers seem to have been getting together, with the result that a whole series of far more desirably styled cars are emerging. The Focus Coupe-Cabriolet is certainly one of these.

Practicalities

Once you let on to people that the car you're driving has a folding hard-top - something that they may not work out for themselves such is the fluidity of the Focus' hood-up styling - they usually ask if they can see it in action. It's testament to both the wow-factor and the user-friendliness of this Ford's roof that I was only too happy to demonstrate the folding mechanism to virtually anyone who asked - even while the weather was doing its worst. Then, unless they'd lost interest completely, I'd show them again. The two-piece electrically-operated hard top roof operates at the touch of a button and takes just 29 seconds, with no catches, latches or levers needing to be manhandled. Once stowed in the boot, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet's lines are a good deal more elegant, with a classic rising waistline and clean rear deck. Ford turned to Italian styling house Pininfarina to create this model and you can't really argue with the finished result, even if it is severely toned down from the striking Vignale concept car paraded at the Paris Motorshow in 2004. The specially styled rear end is characterised by unique tail lights linked by a chrome strip bearing an embossed Focus logo to give the new model what Ford hopes is 'a premium feel'. This is further enhanced by a redesigned front bumper shape and 'distinctive' wheel arches. Thank goodness, it's now no longer acceptable to have a car of this type that features next to no luggage space. That sort of thing is all rather 2001 and the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet counters with 500-litres of room when the hood is up, although this does inevitably drop when the folding roof cartridge is in place. A full four-seater, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet may not be the answer to the family motorist's prayers but it's a lot more practical than its fun-loving agenda may suggest.

Behind the Wheel

I liked the interior. Inside, the car's dashboard layout follows the style of other Focus models, but with a different colour scheme developed to distinguish it as a flagship. Two different colour schemes are offered: dark, sporty Ebony/Flint, and the warm, elegant Iris/Camel. Three engines are offered. The entry-level unit is the 100bhp 1.6-litre Duratec, while those looking for a punchier petrol engine will tick the box for the 144bhp 2.0-litre Duratec unit. The 1.6-litre petrol unit provides 0-62mph acceleration in 13.6sec, a top speed of 114mph and a combined fuel consumption figure of 39.8mpg. Go for the 2.0-litre and you can expect a 0-62mph time of 10.3sec, a top speed of 130mph and combined fuel consumption of 37.6mpg. Probably the most impressive powerplant in the line up however, is the 135bhp 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel which makes sixty from rest in 10.3s on the way to 128mph and a combined fuel figure of nearly 50mpg. The main thing however, is that this unit is quiet. Indeed, it's a measure of Ford's confidence in the refinement of this engine that they can put it into an open car. The Focus has established a reputation as one of - if not the - the best handling cars in its class and although the Coupe-Cabriolet is being touted as a Grand Tourer rather than a pure sports roadster, it shares the same brilliant and infinitely tuneable suspension. It also features the electrically-assisted steering that's one of the best systems of its type and the expertise of thousands of hours of Focus research and development. Safety of course is paramount in a car like this and Ford's new Rollover Protection Device (RPD) plays a vital role in increasing the Coupe-Cabriolet's passive safety performance. In addition to standard front and side airbags, the RPD is designed to help protect passengers in the event of a vehicle rollover. If the system detects an imminent roll, two safety roll-bars "fire" and extend out by up by 20cm to provide a supportive safety strut along with the ultra-strong windscreen pillars to protect the car's occupants.

Value For Money

Prices are competitive with £16,795 being the asking price for the entry-level version. There are three trim levels on offer - CC-1, CC-2 and CC-3 - but all come with alloy wheels, electronically operated and heated door mirrors, a Thatcham 1 Cat alarm, a CD player and air conditioning.

Could I Live With One?

It's hard to imagine, given our climate, why convertibles like this one are so popular in this country. Until the sun comes out of course. At which point, given a budget of up to £20,000, I'd have to put this Ford on my shopping list. Simple as that.

If you like the way the Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet looks, and there are many that don't care for its rather distended bottom, then there aren't too many substantive reasons why you should look elsewhere. Narrowing down the best buy in the range is also a fairly simple procedure. It's the CC-2 version with the 2.0-litre petrol model. It drives sharply, is respectable value for money and won't cost an arm and a leg to run. The issue that I find unsettling about the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet is that its key asset, namely its sparkling handling, is an attribute that tends to be largely wasted on buyers of this sort of car. Far higher up in the motivation hierarchy are factors such as what this vehicle says about them and how pretty it is. Those are thornier quandaries. When all is said and done, this is a Ford Focus, that most ubiquitous of cars, and it's not the most cohesively proportioned one at that. Although keenly priced and well engineered, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet isn't going to dominate its market sector in quite the same way its hatchback sibling has.

If you like the way the Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet looks, and there are many that don't care for its rather distended bottom, then there aren't too many substantive reasons why you should look elsewhere. Narrowing down the best buy in the range is also a fairly simple procedure. It's the CC-2 version with the 2.0-litre petrol model. It drives sharply, is respectable value for money and won't cost an arm and a leg to run. The two-piece electrically-operated hard-top roof operates at the touch of a button and takes just 29 seconds, with no catches, latches or levers needing to be manhandled. Once the roof is stowed in the boot, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet's lines are a good deal more elegant, with a classic rising waistline and a clean rear deck. Inside, the car's dashboard layout follows the style of other Focus models, but with a different colour scheme developed to distinguish it as a flagship. The issue that I find unsettling about the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet is that its key asset, namely its sparkling handling, is an attribute that tends to be largely wasted on buyers of this sort of car. Far higher up in the motivation hierarchy are factors such as what this vehicle says about them and how pretty it is. Those are thornier quandaries. When all is said and done, this is a Ford Focus, that most ubiquitous of cars, and it's not the most cohesively proportioned one at that. Although keenly priced and well engineered, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet isn't going to dominate its market sector in quite the same way its hatchback sibling has.

One of the biggest growth sectors in the car market over the past few years has been that of affordable coupe-cabriolets. Time was when you had to buy French but there's now a bigger choice and the very best drive of the lot is this Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet. Even in the latest facelifted form, it's no great looker though and that could be key for some. There no getting away from the fact. As a nation we have gone ga-ga over small cars with folding hard tops. If statistics are to be believed, we've already bought more drop top cars than France, Italy and Spain combined, notwithstanding our decidedly aqueous climate, and now that manufacturers can factor in the additional safety and security of a metal roof, there's no stopping us. Perhaps we should pause for a moment and ask ourselves what convertibles are really all about. It's the wind in the hair and, yes, looking good, which is why it's all the more perplexing that most compact folding hard top cars look about as sexy as mini-skip. Enter Ford's latest Focus Coupe-Cabriolet. From some angles it's a stunner, from others it looks as if it has, to coin a phrase, a bit too much junk in the trunk. Still, no car is perfect and the Focus counters with a sharper driving experience than any of its direct rivals can serve up. Buy the 1.6-litre version of the Focus Coupe Cabriolet and it's hard to escape the nagging suspicion that you've not bought a whole lot of engine, the lion's share of your money having gone on the basics and that fancy folding tin top. Things get a little more satisfying if you're prepared to dig a little deeper and get the 2.0-litre petrol model. This engine feels as if it's made for the Coupe-Cabriolet. Dragging around a hefty welter of electric motors isn't child's play and the 143bhp 2.0-litre will punch the car to 60mph in 10.2 seconds. Coincidentally this is exactly the same time as the 2.0-litre TDCi diesel manages but Ford rather greedily wants another £1,500 model for model for the oil burner. Most will stick with this petrol option. A top speed of 129mph may be academic to some but it's indicative of just how much the Focus has in reserve when cruising at typical UK motorway speeds. Suffice to say, you're not flogging the car's guts out to keep pace. The two-piece electrically-operated hard-top roof operates at the touch of a button and takes just 29 seconds, with no catches, latches or levers needing to be manhandled. Once the roof is stowed in the boot, the Focus Coupe-Cabriolet's lines are a good deal more elegant, with a classic rising waistline and a clean rear deck. Inside, the car's dashboard layout follows the style of other Focus models, but with a different colour scheme developed to distinguish it as a flagship. There are three trim levels on offer and the names are fairly self explantory: CC-1 (only offered with the 1.6-litre engine), CC-2 and CC-3. If you like the way the Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet looks, and there are many that don't care for its rather distended bottom, then there aren't too many substantive reasons why you should look elsewhere.

Scores
Performance 7
Handling 6
Comfort 8
Space 8
Styling 5
Build 8
Value 8
Equipment 8
Economy 7
Depreciation 6
Insurance 7
Total 78

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