Not including the performance-oriented Focus ST and Focus RS hatchbacks, the standard Ford Focus is available with two engine options: a naturally aspirated, 2.0-liter I-4 or a turbocharged, 1.0-liter EcoBoost I-3. We spent a couple weeks with a pair of 2016 Ford Focus SE sedans with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine, one with the standard six-speed manual transmission and the other with the available automated six-speed dual-clutch manual.
The standard 2.0-liter emphasizes power, but the optional 1.0-liter EcoBoost focuses on fuel economy rather than performance; the 2.0-liter engine is rated 160 hp at 6,500 rpm and 146 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm, but the turbocharged three-cylinder engine is rated 123 hp at 6,000 rpm and 125 lb-ft at 3,500 rpm. That power tradeoff brings a significant increase in fuel economy. The 2.0-liter engine and five-speed manual combo is EPA-rated 26/36/30 mpg (9/6.5/7.8 L/100km) city/highway/combined—26-27/38-40/30-31 mpg (9-8.7/6.2-5.9/7.8-7.6 L/100km) with available six-speed PowerShift (dual-clutch) automatic. In comparison, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost with the six-speed manual is EPA-rated 30/42/35 mpg (7.8/5.6/6.7 L/100km) and 28/40/32 mpg (8.4/5.9/7.3 L/100km) with the available six-speed PowerShift automatic.
At the track, the 1.0-liter and six-speed manual combo propelled the 2,919-pound (1,324 kg) sedan to 60 mph in 9.7 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 17.2 seconds at 81.3 mph (131 km/h). The manual-equipped car lapped the figure eight in 28.0 seconds at 0.59 g lateral average and pulled 0.82 g around the skidpad.
The available six-speed dual-clutch transmission takes a toll on the 1.0-liter engine’s performance; with the automatic, it requires 11.0 seconds to 50 mph (80 km/h) and 18.1 seconds at 76.9 mph (124 km/h) for the quarter mile. That’s 1.3 seconds slower to 60 mph and 0.9 second slower through the quarter mile with a 4.4-mph (7 km/h) lower trap speed. The dual-clutch car took 29.1 seconds at 0.54 g to lap the figure eight—1.1 seconds slower than the manual car—and pulled 0.77 g around the skidpad.
Both cars stopped from 60 mph in 117 feet.
In comparison, a 3,059-pound (1,387 kg) 2014 Ford Focus Titanium sedan with the 2.0-liter engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission accelerated to 60 in 8.3 seconds and took 16.3 seconds at 85.7 mph (138 km/h) for the quarter mile. The figure eight was tackled in 26.7 seconds at 0.65 g, and the skidpad at 0.90 g. It also stopped from 60 mph in just 106 feet. Back in the day, a 2,947-pound (1,337 kg) 2012 Ford Focus SE sedan with the 2.0-liter and six-speed manual accelerated in 7.6 seconds and 15.8 seconds at 87.6 mph (141 km/h), respectively.
The 1.0-liter EcoBoost is clearly offered for fuel economy and not performance.
Out on the road, the manual car is definitely more responsive than the automatic, but even then it’s just adequate. Despite its odd cylinder count, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost is quiet and lacks any expected harshness. The three-cylinder feels torquey once you get passed the turbo lag, and it revs smoothly up the powerband, though with its good low- to midrange torque, the engine doesn’t need to rev to move the car down the road.
The Ford Focus has always been among the best-handling cars in the compact segment, and the EcoBoost model is no different. Both Focus sedans handle surprisingly well but not perfect. The electric power steering is vague on center with lots of play. Ford lags behind Honda with its tuning; it’s still not as predictable as the electric power steering on the 2007 Honda Civic Si I bought new. In fact, I prefer the tried and true hydraulic power steering of my 1998 Ford Escort ZX2 I happened to drive the day between my times spent in the Focus sedan duo.
Both Focus sedans, however, can pass other cars while taking freeway interchanges well above suggested speeds.
Another gripe was the clutch feel in the manual car. The light spring pressure combined with vague take up makes it nearly impossible to gauge when the clutch engagement takes place. It’s a nonissue for those who already know how to drive a manual, but it wouldn’t be the ideal car for someone to learn with. Additionally, the shifter is rubbery with long, vague throws.
Base price for both cars starts at $19,390 USD. Options on our manual tester include the $495 USD EcoBoost engine, $395 USD Ruby Red tinted clearcoat paint, $255 USD reverse sensing system, $245 USD Exterior Protection package, and $75 USD cargo area protector. Total price for our tester came to $20,855 USD.
Options on the automatic car include $1,095 USD for the auto transmission, the $895 USD SE EcoBoost Appearance package (Selectshift, 16-inch alloy wheels, LED DRLs, foglights), the $255 USD reverse sensing system, the $245 USD Exterior Protection package, and the $75 cargo area protector. Total price for the automatic Focus tester came to $21,955 USD.
The 2016 Ford Focus SE Sedan 1.0-Liter EcoBoost is a compelling choice for those looking to maximize fuel economy in their compact sedan or hatchback. We would choose the manual transmission to save on upfront costs and at the pump. The the manual-equipped car is significantly quicker seals the deal.
There is another Blue Oval fuel economy choice, though.
If you don’t need the extra rear legroom offered by the Focus but still want the fuel economy benefits of the 1.0-liter EcoBoost, Ford also offers the turbocharged three-cylinder in the Ford Fiesta SFE EcoBoost. With a five-speed manual, the Fiesta SFE EcoBoost is EPA-rated 1 mpg higher in city/highway/combined compared to the Focus SE EcoBoost.
A 2,615-pound (1,186 kg) 2014 sedan with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost and five-speed manual we tested accelerated in 8.5 seconds and 16.7 seconds at 82.0 mph (132 km/h). The 2014 Ford Fiesta SFE EcoBoost sedan lapped the figure eight in 27.5 seconds at 0.63 g and pulled 0.82 g around the skidpad. Stopping from 60 mph took a rather long 120 feet.
Not only is the Ford Fiesta SFE EcoBoost the automaker’s non-hybrid fuel economy winner, but the subcompact hatch and sedan are also the best-performing variants.
| 2016 Ford Focus SE EcoBoost (automatic)
|| 2016 Ford Focus SE EcoBoost (manual)
|PRICE AS TESTED||$21,955||$20,855|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||1.0L/123-hp/125-lb-ft turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3||1.0L/123-hp/125-lb-ft turbo DOHC 12-valve I-3|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed automatic||6-speed manual|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,001 lb (60/40%)||2,919 lb (58/42%)|
|WHEELBASE||104.3 in||104.3 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||178.7 x 71.8 x 57.8 in||178.7 x 71.8 x 57.8 in|
|0-60 MPH||11.0 sec||9.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||18.1 sec @ 76.9 mph||17.2 sec @ 81.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||117 ft||117 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.77 g (avg)||0.82 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||29.1 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)||28.0 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||28/40/32 mpg||30/42/35 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||120/84 kW-hrs/100 miles||112/80 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.60 lb/mile||0.56 lb/mile|