Stepping back into a Ford Focus is a bit like seeing an ex-girlfriend for the first time after the end of a bad relationship.
I bought a second generation Focus several years ago and the experience left me so psychologically scarred that my perception of this new model has been tainted from the start.
Memories of engine control unit (ECU) issues and a dealer service and warranty saga are still too fresh in my mind.
However, time spent with the car over the Christmas period has meant some old wounds have healed, but a few issues still remain.
One of my previous issues was reaching a respectable MPG rate. The sheer amount of driving between relatives’ turkey dinners meant the 1.6 TDCi had its chance to impress over long distances.
It posted a respectable 47mpg, but it’s still way off the manufacturer quoted 67mpg.
Previous testers have driven the average fuel consumption figure up to 53mpg, which means that despite my best efforts to drive like a saint, my own driving style is partly to blame.
But should it be that hard? AM’s 1.6TDI Skoda Yeti has an official figure of 61.4mpg and it’s much easier to reach the mid and late 50s when driven without trying to improve efficiency.
The Focus’ 115bhp 1.6 diesel also takes a while to get used to driving.
The delivery of power in first gear lurches you forward and then sharply drops off, so driving it smoothly takes practice.
Once you’re out of the tracks and up to a cruising speed, things settle down and there’s some self-satisfaction to be gained from knowing gear shifts are in sync with the economy indicator.
The start/stop feature also works well, helping to create a more pleasant environment for cyclists swarming my vehicle in Cambridge when I’ve stopped at a set of traffic lights.
The 1.6TDCi is the lower powered diesel in the range, but driving the equivalent 104bhp 1.6 diesel in the Yeti really does highlight the difference in driving enjoyment.
Despite some of these disappointing traits, the Focus’ benchmark handling is still in place and from a styling point of view it looks great.
The Titanium interior trim is high quality and additional features like the DAB radio and iPod compatible entertainment system are real highlights.
The cabin is spacious and the seats are comfortable and supportive too.
The Focus also has a spacious boot with 316 litres on offer with the seats up and 1,101 litres of room when the rear seats are folded flat.
Hopefully the remaining time with the Focus on the AM fleet will provide the opportunity to establish a happy relationship with what is one of the UK’s most popular cars.