A 1.0-liter Ford Focus might look on paper to be not very appealing, but once you appreciate that it comes in 98-bhp guise with a 5-speed manual and 123 bhp with a 6-speed attached to it and that it's red-lined at 6500 rpm, then the picture changes somewhat.
Learning that it's a 3-cylinder might take the shine off it as well, especially since Ford hasn't bothered to install a balancer shaft to iron out the 3-potter's odd frequencies.
But you'd be wrong on all counts. This is a jewel of an engine. Thanks to cleverly tuned engine mounts and a flywheel and front pulley that are accurately out of balance to counteract those unwanted vibrations, it runs as smoothly as any 4- or 6-cylinder unit. What's more, once you get past 2000 rpm, it pulls strongly and willingly especially around the 3500 mark where the transient overboost delivers a 30-second overboost that sees torque climb from 125 to 148 lbs.-ft.
A further point is its long-legged motorway cruising with under 2500 rpm on the tacho in 6th gear and, I suspect, heavy loads might blunt its willingness to perform, but as the gearbox is a joy to use that's no hardship.
The ride is as fluent as you'd expect any Focus to be and the steering, thanks to the engine taking 66 lb. off the nose, is even sharper and more agile under enthusiastic cornering than before – also aided by electric power steering uniquely tuned for this application.
A short morning's drive was too limited to ascertain its fuel sipping qualities, but I'd be disappointed if it didn't average north of 40 mpg in real-world, daily driving conditions.
Base price comes in at $28,260 (U.K.)