Launch report:

Ford Focus Coupé-Cabriolet
UK Drive review

by Claire Lumb (26 March 2007)

Apart from a few manufacturers who are still persisting with soft-top convertibles, most car makers are going down the hard-top route. Coupé-cabriolets are now all the rage, and Ford has jumped on the bandwagon, albeit fashionably late.

Both its main rivals, the Vauxhall Astra TwinTop and Volkswagen Eos, have been on sale for a while now, but Ford is stressing value for money over both these models. The most basic model is about £350 cheaper than an entry-level TwinTop, as well as better equipped and £2900 cheaper than the equivalent Eos. However, whether this is a deal-breaker would depend on both the Focus CC's looks and performance.

Certainly the CC is pleasing to the eye, especially with the rather elegant roof up. With the roof down, the car seems rather elongated, or bustle-backsided, as a rather less polite colleague commented. Roof down, the Focus CC has more in common with the Volvo C70, which I loved. Overall, the CC looks classy and got a few admiring glances from passers-by while I was out and about, including a man on a tractor and a rather elderly lady, neither of whom, I suspect, are part of Ford's key market.

Ford Focus Coupé-Cabriolet.The roof itself is opened and closed by pressing a button on the dashboard. It feels slower than other CCs and annoyingly you have to keep your finger on it during the 30 seconds it takes, but there is a counter on the console to tell you how long is left. It won't go up or down while on the move but overall it's a fairly smooth operation.

There are some new colours added specifically for the CC notably a rather fetching Luna (or brownish) shade and Acqua Blue which twinkled quite prettily in the sun. Inside there are some interesting trim colours available, although I wasn't taken with the brown leather in my test car. It was stylishly retro, I grant you, but I wonder how quickly it will start to look 1970s again.

At present, there are three engines to pick from; two petrol - 1.6 and two litres - and one 2.0 diesel. Ford says it expects 90% of its sales to come from the petrol variants with just 10% from the diesel. I wonder how many of the 1.6-litres it expects to sell – not too many considering Ford didn't even bring one to the launch.

I drove the two-litre 16V 143bhp five-speed manual on the day. Although the car can sometimes feel a little heavy, steering is nice and precise and changing gears is smooth enough, although the gearstick felt a little far away. It cruised happily enough at 70mph on the motorway, but at that speed a sixth gear would have been good for quieter cruising. Even with the roof up, road noise was a bit much.

I was happy enough with the performance most of the time, but a little bit more oomph wouldn't have gone amiss. I wouldn't be surprised if Ford introduced a hot version at some point, which would make driving a lot more fun for those seeking thrills.

I drove twice with the roof down. Once was in the morning, with the windows down and in quite blustery conditions and couldn't wait to stop to put the roof back up again. I wouldn’t go as far to say the car was wobbling, but it didn't feel quite as secure at more than 50mph as I would have liked. Later on, I drove in much more balmy weather, with the windows up and with a wind-breaker attached to the back seats.

Ford Focus Coupé-Cabriolet.It was astonishingly more agreeable, calmer, less noisy and steadier, and more importantly, my hair didn't look like I'd been dragged backwards through a hedge when I stepped out. The wind-breaker isn't cheap, at £200, but I'd recommend it if you plan to do a lot of open-top driving.

Luggage space is quite impressive for a CC. There's 534 litres available with the roof up, but just 248 available with it down, so don't expect to have much open-top motoring you are away on holiday with more than one suitcase in the boot.

The rear seats are just about more than a glorified parcel shelf. I sat in the back and felt I could probably do a short journey without getting serious leg cramp (I'm 5'7"), which is a lot better than many other CC models I've seen (the Eos, for example). The seats themselves are fantastically comfortable.

The CC comes in three trim levels. The most basic is the CC-1 (which is available only with the 1.6-litre engine and is priced at £16,795) for which standard equipment includes alloy wheels, a CD player, air-conditioning and electric windows and mirrors. The CC-2 costs £17,795 for the two-litre petrol and £19,270 for the diesel and adds 17" wheels, front foglights, a leather steering wheel and sports suspension.

The top-of-the-range CC-3 adds cruise control, electronic adjustment for the driver's seat, heated front seats, a 6-disc CD changer, front and rear mats and automatic lights and wipers. That costs £18,795 for the petrol and £20,270 for the diesel.

Fuel consumption ranges between 37.6mpg for the CC2 2.0 petrol and 47.9mpg for the CC-3 2.0 Diesel. Insurance groups are 8 for the CC1 1.6 petrol and 11 for all others.

445stars

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