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The Ford Focus ST has gained a new four-pot motor, but does it have what it takes to gun for the Golf GTI?
What is it?The Focus ST has always struggled to stand out in a line-up that includes arguably the greatest hot hatch of the past two decades: the all-conquering Fiesta ST.
What's it like?Ford has resisted the temptation to make the diesel softer and less focused than the petrol ST – the route VW went down with its Golf GTD. As with the petrol version, you do have to be bit careful when feeding the power back in on the exit of corners – especially when it’s teeming with rain as it was at points along our Spanish test route. There’s also another downside that we’ve already alluded to, because while some rivals combine a relatively easygoing nature with a reasonable amount of fun, the Focus is all about the latter. Should I buy one?The good news is that this is no watered-down warm hatch masquerading under the famous ST badge. For some – particularly those racking up big motorway miles – the firm ride and refinement issues may be enough to push them in the direction of the softer Golf GTD. I've read reports of the Golf GTD MK7 only averaging early 40's MPG and my mothers Audi A1 1.6tdi is only averaging 44mpg. You are correct, I have a GTD and it does about 42mpg in the winter and 50 in the summer on my 13 mile commute. The inclusion of stop-start tech is to blame, it heavily influences the EU test cycle (11 minutes long, a quarter of which has the car at a standstill), but has a tiny effect for most people that aren't permanently gridlocked.
I have the Leon FR184 and am averaging about 55mpg to a tank in the winter but my commute is 75 miles.
With those central exhaust pipes does this exclude a certain section of the car buying public ? I like that body color,not sure the Dashboard is funky enough,a bit VW,all Grey and not much bling,will be interesting to see how the Diesel fares against it's peers.
The 488's incredible engine and handling and open-top experience make for something very special indeed. The Isuzu D-Max is starting to show its age; after a drive in the range-topping Blade version, is it still competitive?
The Ranger may be no spring chicken but it is that rare thing, a vehicle that has demonstrated the capacity to improve with age. Ten years is a long time for a modern motor vehicle to be in service but if you can get away with it anywhere, it's in the pick-up truck sector. Any concerted hunt for a used Ford Ranger will turn up vehicles in dramatically varying states of repair. The Ranger is a simple soul that's built to take a pounding off-road, so there isn't too much to go wrong and what does can be fixed relatively cheaply. Dennis Buyacar Ltd, 30 Cleveland Street, London, W1T 4JD (GB09151058) (FRN:667368) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. We've finally caught the new 2016 Fiat 124 Spider out on test with its roof down, providing our best look yet at the MX-5 based Italian roadster.
The Fiat group set chatrooms alight with its May 2012 announcement that it was developing an Alfa Romeo roadster in association with Mazda. The global market for sports cars remains challenged - so it makes perfect sense for both Mazda and Fiat to collaborate on this project. CAR magazine's new spyshots suggest there's plenty of MX-5 in the Italian version, but insiders are adamant the front and rear ends will be markedly different.
We hear that the fast Fiats will use the 1.4, which can be tuned for anything from 140-200bhp. Word is this car could be shown at the Los Angeles motor show in November 2015, to launch it into the world's biggest sports car market before global sales begin in 2016. Composites would keep weight comfortably lower than 1000kg, making for a lightweight rival to the Lotus Elise and Alfa Romeo 4C. As it's a Yamaha, it's naturally ‘inspired by motorcycles’ and in the build-up to the show was dubbed called the 4Wheeler. The Murray link stems from Yamaha’s involvement with Gordon Murray Design’s T25 city car project for some years, with a co-created concept called the Motiv revealed in 2013. Read the CAR+ interview with former Grand Prix car designer (and McLaren F1 creator) Gordon Murray here. Back in the early ’90s Yamaha planned a V12-powered, tandem-seat supercar called the 0X99-11, ultimately shelved in the midst of budgetary blunders and local recession, but not before three fascinating prototypes were built. Elsewhere on the Yamaha stand at Tokyo 2015 will be various bikes, scooters and leaning trikes plus, intriguingly, an ‘autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot that combines motorcycle and robotics technologies.’ All sounds enchantingly mad. While we are impressed by how well the new GMC Canyon turned out, it’s the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 that is the star of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, at least as far as trucks are concerned.
As for the new interior, I have a sneaking suspicion that all truck makers have colluded to offer buyers one general design direction. Despite looking like the same ol’, the exterior and interior are nevertheless modern. The company achieved this feat by incorporating high-strength steel and military-grade aluminum alloys throughout the F-150’s body.


Performance and fuel economy figures have not been published, but a lighter body naturally entails the new F-150 can tow more, haul more, accelerate quicker, stop shorter and use less gas. The 2015 Ford F-150 will be available in five primary trims — XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum and King Ranch. GET THE HOTTEST CAR NEWSJoin a growing list of car enthusiasts who receive our newsletter to stay up to date with the ever-changing automotive industry. And given the Focus’s popularity with the CO2-conscious fleet market, that was a pretty big deal.
That may not be entirely welcome news to those who spend their lives cruising up and down motorways, but if you think hot hatches are mainly about having fun, the Focus has plenty going for it.
But despite having 11 per cent more torque than the petrol ST, there’s actually less torque steer to deal with. It’s strong from 1500rpm but done by 4000rpm, so although there’s no point revving it out you can make pretty rapid progress by short-shifting. We’ve questioned how authentic the noise sounds in the past, but when it’s drowning out diesel clatter it’s surprisingly welcome.
That means it’s firm - impeccably well damped, as you’d expect of anything wearing the Blue Oval, but decidedly firm nonetheless. It may not be as quick as its petrol-powered sibling, but dynamically it’s every bit as good. But at least Ford’s different tack means there’s a genuine reason to choose the Focus, whereas there otherwise might not be. There's no denying that ?20 tax for this car is hugely impressive but PLEASE give these completely false mpg figures a rest.
I have reached the heady heights of 58mpg for a 105 mile motorway journey maintaining 80mph in the summer. For 6 previous VWs bought new, the combined figure was an honest account of what I could achieve on my commute without driving like a nun. Take the official figure of a new car now and knock 30% off, that's all you'll be getting around the doors. The summer it is much better on the same commute but the average is diluted by shorter trips then too that I can't be bothered to do when it's cold and dark. It had already been on sale for seven years when the 2006 facelift rendered it truly competitive with the class leading pick-ups for the first time and on the used market, these versions are definitely the ones to go for. Here, toughness and reliability are prized highly by buyers while the latest newfangled technologies can be happily done without, if the price is right. The two-door single cabs have just two seats and a loadbay, the Crew cab is a conventional four-door double cab with two full rows of seats and the Super cab sits somewhere between the two. On the one hand, you have vehicles that have been routinely flogged up mountains with an odorous sheepdog riding shotgun.
Get underneath it if you can and look for the tell tale signs that the vehicle has spent time away from the Queen's highway, adjusting the price you're willing to pay accordingly. It's up on brute force for a start, producing 141bhp as opposed to 108bhp and doing so at a usefully low 2,000rpm. But in late 2014 it became apparent that Milan was substituting in Fiat and Abarth convertibles instead of Alfa Romeos. That would be half a century after its forebear, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider (below), which ran from 1966-'69. Called the Yamaha Sports Ride Concept, it was designed in association with engineer extraordinaire Gordon Murray - and features the first carbonfibre application of his new iStream manufacturing process. Regrettably few details have been issued by Yamaha, but a bike engine would be most likely to power the Sports Ride car were it to make the leap from motor show catwalk to low-volume production reality. The deliberately obscure rendering issued in advance indicated a compact, short-wheelbase, mid-engined design.
The car’s modular architecture and innovative ‘iStream’ production process is designed to be applied to a variety of different sizes and styles – including, potentially, a sports car.
Ford’s workhorse truck promises to be tougher, smarter and more capable than ever before.
In fact, aside from the bold new grille and distinctive headlights, I’d say the exterior looks like old one. Attractive as the F-150’s new cabin may be, what I see is a cross between the Chevrolet Silverado (GMC Sierra) and Toyota Tundra’s interiors, or am I seeing things? Other tech goodies include a rear view camera, trailer brake controller and a segment-first 360-degree camera system for safer maneuvering. But the biggest highlight of this F-150 is the weight reduction of up to 700 pounds over the outgoing model. It will also be offered with a chrome appearance package, a sport appearance package and an FX4 off-road package. This is partly, Ford says, down to software tweaks in the ESP, but also because the diesel has a different final drive ratio, so there’s actually less torque arriving at the wheels. If you’re looking for outright pace, of course, the identically priced petrol-powered version is still the way to go.


It’s just a shame the boomy soundtrack doesn’t subside a bit more at a fast motorway cruise. In fact, with a slightly less frenzied power delivery, it actually feels like a slightly more balanced and rounded driver’s car.
I drive my 1.6tdci like Ms Daisy and I average a tad over 50mpg, so unlike the VW's I've owned, I can't get anywhere near claimed figures. The handling still isn't great and the ride remains predictably choppy but the common-rail diesel engine is a winner and after all these years, you know the Ford Ranger has durability in reserve. Was this a case of Ford, having flogged the dead horse, nailing on some new shoes and applying a dash of lipstick? These models feature cinema-style fold-up seats in the back that allow the space to be used for storage when they are empty. The interiors can take a battering too, if not from the farmer's dog or the builder's tools, then from kids dropping sweets on the carpet or colouring-in the headrests.
Many operators will be more enamoured with the 22% improvement in fuel economy but be warned that the Ranger remains a thirsty beast and 30mpg is good going in everyday driving. Now we can see firm evidence of what we can expect from the Italian sports car - which is tipped to reuse the 124 Spider name from the history books. Furthermore, the codename T40 has been linked with the new Yamaha concept – a continuation of the naming system for previous Gordon Murray Design iStream prototypes.
It’s unlikely to pack a V12 – expect a scaled-down powerplant (the Motiv concept packed a sub-1000cc three-pot), possibly borrowed from the company's motorcycle arm, and potentially with some electric assistance. But considering that GM, Ram and Toyota have taken a similar approach with their latest trucks, we can’t complain too much. The big pick-up has been facelifted more times than the population of Beverley Hills but was still displaying mostly original features in 2006 when the version we feature here made landfall.
They are combined with a pilarless cab design with reverse-hinged doors for improved access. What we do know is that the 2006 revisions made to the Ranger brought major improvements, so these improved models are the ones to go for if you can possibly afford it. We can also see that the MX-5's delightfully simple manual canvas hood will continue unchanged on the Fiat (see it in action in our spyshots gallery above).
That likely makes the full-size truck some 500 pounds lighter than the aforementioned mid-size Canyon, even though it is a class higher and, thus, notably larger. They are not representative, they certainly can't be used to compare cares on a like-4-like basis, they are totally and utterly useless.
The answer, as ever, lies somewhere between the two extremes but what anyone looking for a good value used pick-up will want to know is where?
The post-2009 models are identical beneath the skin but will be pricier, so the 2006-2009 period represents your window of opportunity.
If anything, the Ranger actually grew more competitive against its, predominantly Japanese, rivals as time went on.
Around the time that this version was launched in 2006, the likes of Nissan's Navara, Toyota's HiLux and Mitsubishi's L200 were being unveiled in all-new guises. The large rectangular grille is bisected by two thick horizontal bars and framed on each side by big rectangular headlamps. Ford's answer was not to go back to the drawing board to develop a new Ranger but to book the existing one in for life saving surgery.
Below, the chunky bumper juts out from the bodywork with a wide central air intake and deeply recessed fog lights. Unlike those made in 2003 and 2009, the 2006 revisions extended far beneath the skin of the Ranger. They ran to revised suspension settings and, crucially, an all new common-rail diesel engine.
The interior was also vastly improved and together, the changes propelled Ford's effort into contention at the head of the UK pick-up class. Where the Focus and Mondeo led their respective classes on grounds of steering sharpness and chassis balance, Ford's pick-up was always a bit of a blancmange by comparison. Larger suspension control arms, shock absorbers and spring bushes combine with bigger wheels to enhance the ride quality in the 2006 version. The spring and damper settings were specially tuned to give optimum handling whether the vehicle is laden or unladen and a revised rear stabiliser was introduced along with an improved hydraulic braking system with ABS on all four wheels.
The Thunder, for example, features a tubular sports bar to beef-up the front end, chrome side sills, leather seats, a six CD stereo and air-conditioning, amongst other things.
For offroad jaunts, ramp and departure angles were maximised and the 4x4 system gained the ability to be electronically engaged while on the move.
All Ranger models get twin front airbags and seatbelt pretensioners with further safety equipment available from the options list.



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