Ford is pulling out all the stops to celebrate 100 years in Ireland. A seven-year warranty on their cars is putting it up to importers who lag behind in this regard (Kia and Mitsubishi excluded), there is an ST-Line styling package available on Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and Kuga and an attractive PCP package on the new Ka+.
ST denotes performance in Ford parlance and the ST-Line picks up cues from their trim both inside and out, and apart from the extra equipment, these models are available only with engine derivatives that offer extra power and sports suspension.
On the Focus, there are ST badges, LED daytime running lights, heated door mirrors, sports-style front and rear bumpers, fog lights, rock alloy wheels and door scuff plates. Inside, the extra kit includes sports-style front seats with driver lumbar support, leather-trimmed steering and gear lever, stainless steel sports pedals, air conditioning, starter button and MyKey entry.
This five-door version is offered with a choice of a 125bhp one-litre EcoBoost petrol engine (108g/kkm C02) for €24,875. There are two diesel engines, a 1.5 litre 120bhp (98g/km C02) at €25,920 and a two-litre 150bhp (105g/km C02) at €27,370.
The sports suspension combined with the two-litre diesel gives an impressive performance. The Focus is known for its superb roadholding, and the sports suspension adds an extra fun element on winding country roads. The power delivery from this oil-burner combined with a slick gear change will set diesel fans' hearts racing.
The price of €27,370 is high considering that driver aids and safety features such as cruise control, a lane-keeping alert and driver alert, a blind-spot information system, parking kit, adaptive lights and SYNC Generation 2 with 8" touchscreen are options.
The Ka+ is light years ahead in design and performance of the three-door model it replaces. There are now five doors and seating for a family of five. The body style has more character, but above all it is practical and has similar dimensions to a Fiesta, a bit taller and a bit shorter. Head and legroom is good. The 270-litre boot includes 13 litres of underfloor space. Drop the rear seats and there is a big 849 litres on offer. This good-value runaround claims economy in the region of 4.5L/100km (56mpg).
The 1.25 litre petrol entry model priced at €13,050 has a sweet PCP offer of €29 a month with a 25pc deposit. Such deals are attractive to those who want to downsize and to young drivers after a new model with the minimum outlay.
At the other end of the scale, the large American-sourced Edge SUV with a two-litre diesel turbo engine is struggling to make an impact with a price tag heading towards the €mid-50s.