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Ford Focus CC-3 TDCi

09/27/2006
The rear end's an acquired taste but, that aside, the Focus is a terrific all-rounder and it should challenge the best in class

Studying the CC's proportions in the metal reveals plenty of eye-catching details. Fitting a hard-top to a family car isn't easy, so Ford enlisted the help of Italian styling house Pininfarina to design and build its new model.

Yet despite the firm's best efforts to inject some drama into the Focus's shape, we're still not convinced by the looks at the back. While the lamp clusters are nicely detailed, the colossal rear deck ruins the car's proportions.

The slab of bootlid behind the cabin has to be large to make room for the roof, which folds in two. Many rival tops split into three or four pieces, but Ford's decision to opt for a simpler mechanism has allowed engineers to save 30kg, while leaving space for a massive 534-litre boot with the lid up.

Press a button on the dashboard, and the roof stows in 29 seconds, and you can track its progress via an indicator between the dials. Even in open form, the Ford offers 234 litres of luggage room, but access is severely restricted. With the top down, the refinement of the 2.0-litre diesel is put to the ultimate test. The oil-burner is shared with the standard hatch, and after clattering into life, it soon settles into a smooth idle.

Once on the move, occupants will only be aware of what's in the tank at high revs, when the powerplant starts to sound raucous. The 0-60mph sprint takes 10.3 seconds, leaving the Ford lagging behind Vauxhall's Astra TwinTop diesel. It's at low speeds that the Focus feels breathless, but once you get going, the diesel engine proves to be far superior to its petrol brother.

There's nothing lacklustre about the handling, either - only bumping over potholes reveals any chassis flex. The CC corners with all the agility of the standard hatch, especially with the top up.

There's no doubt the diesel model is the pick of the Focus CC range, and the best news is that it's cheaper than its rivals. Ford has clearly opened up its family hatch to a whole new market.

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Ford Focus CC-3 TDCi
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