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Long-term test: Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Titanium

Ford

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Review

The level of equipment on our long-term test Ford Focus Titanium is astounding, considering what was available for the average family hatchback buyer just five or six years ago.

Then, buyers thought specifying stability control, adaptive headlamps and sat-nav from the options list equated to treating themselves to the latest driver aids.

Thanks to Ford’s attractively-priced packages, our test car has been specified with a host of extra electronic trickery at low cost.

Adding £750 to the screen price bagged integrated sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB digital radio plus a USB connection.

A further £750 driver assistance pack gave us active city stop, lane departure warning and keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, driver alert, auto high beam headlamps and blind spot information.

But having lived with the Focus for a few weeks now, I can’t help thinking the model could still be better value.

Maybe they are fine if the driver’s job requires them to spend every single working day exhaustingly trawling up and down the country.

Yet even on my long journeys I’ve found some of the systems more frustrating than effective.

The blind spot warning system is useful. However, having the nearside signal triggered simply by hedges alongside the A1 indicates a weakness.

And the traffic signal recognition aid, while helpful in unfamiliar suburbs, occasionally seems to pick whatever speed limit it fancies on more familiar ground.

Even putting a seven-digit postcode into the sat-nav seems far more convoluted than necessary, requiring two button presses on the integrated control panel to change from letters to numbers, another one to get a space, another two to get numbers again and finally one more press to get back to letters for the final digits.

Customers could be guided towards the more expensive, but possibly less niggling, touchscreen sat-nav package instead.

I do like the way I can customise the lane departure and keeping systems to my preferences, sending an abrupt shudder through the steering wheel should I change lane without indicating, and weighting the steering to encourage me back across into the original lane.

And thankfully, I’ve not yet had to experience the driver alert function, which warns when the driving seems fatigued and erratic, nor the city safe system which can automatically brake the car below 20mph when the car ahead stops.

Still, optional systems aside, the car is a reasonable performer.

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