When it comes to vehicles, the Motoring landscape is as diverse as the people that drive them and quite rightly so. We all seem to expect different things from the vehicles we sit behind the wheel of. Be it more seating room, more height, more boot space, more power or more technology (I could, of course, go on), it would appear that our demands are almost limitless. However, I recently attended a Ford New Zealand launch that was certain to put a smile on the dial of many of us (quite literally), for the double whammy included the all-new Endura SUV and Ford Focus – yes an actual car.
The day commenced at their award-winning North Harbour store, a fitting start as it’s more of a destination than a ‘showroom’ – it makes great coffee to that I can attest. We were given the choice of either the Focus or the Endura for our first journey (a drive to the Hunting Lodge Winery in Waimauku), I chose the Focus. Granted it wasn’t an epic first drive but we were ‘allowed’ to make way there so I opted to head a little further north to test out its prowess on some country roads near Kaukapakapa.
Road work alert – unfortunately, as bad luck would have it, I hit some of our never-ending roadworks and ended up being stuck in a twenty-minute wait for the traffic signal guy to turn his sign – not the best start. Thankfully, the Focus enjoyed having its go faster pedal pressed and the peppy 3-cylinder 1.5L ecoboost engine happily let all of its 134kW loose. This, combined with a very rigid frame and tidy suspension, soon had me back on track in terms of ETA – Phew, I wouldn’t have to miss a Ford brunch, oh and the press briefing too.
First of all, the new Endura.
Following on from the ‘soft launch’ of the previous and arguably, interim model. The new Endura comes with far more of a fanfare. Its 2L, 4 cylinder turbo diesel engine, produces 140kW and 400Nm respectively via an advanced 8-speed select-shift transmission. Fuel efficiency is reported to be 6.7L/100L aided by its intelligent AWD system that will disconnect the rear coupling when not required.
Visually, the exterior has been enhanced with features such as a Ford trapezoid grille, anti-glare headlights, a high beltline and doors that wrap into the sills. It offers ‘best in class’ 2nd-row leg and shoulder room, increased NVH (and sound deadening) and a flurry of safety systems that include Post Collision Braking, Evasive Steer Assist and a 180-degree camera.
The Interior has been greatly improved too, with a soft touch dashboard that flows down to your knees, heaps and I mean heaps more room (shoulder and leg) and has a ‘dial’ (rather than a gear knob) for transmission selection.
Next the new Focus
The all-new Focus comes on a whole new platform. It has a very spritely 1.5L, 134kW 3-cylinder Ecoboost engine that will reduce to 2-cylinders when not under load, giving an extra 5% fuel saving or a diesel wagon with 110kW and 370Nm outputs.
It has a longer wheelbase than the outgoing model to increase passenger comfort, flat floors in the rear and the rear door glass has been increased to offer greater visibility and thus less chance of motion sickness.
It too comes with a whole raft of driving aids and safety that includes the ONLY HUD (head up display) that is compatible with polarised glasses, Adaptive Cruise control with lane centring assist, fully automated parking (both in and out), rear cross traffic alert and active braking and should you fall asleep at the wheel, the Focus will reduce power and bring the vehicle to a stop. Oh, and it too, has replaced the conventional gearstick with a dial.
With our food still going down, we were given around an hour with each vehicle to do as we pleased. I grabbed the keys to the new Endura and headed for Woodhill forest, it was the closest patch of gravel road I could think of (and didn’t have any roadworks along the way).
The Endura certainly is spacious and modern too. Flicking the drive mode to ‘sport’ gives it more spring in its step and for a reasonably large vehicle, it has a nice way of handling itself. The gravel road offered very little challenge (I didn’t expect it too) but it didn’t lack any form of confidence, sealed or unsealed.
The day concluded back at the North Harbour showroom and essentially the whole experience was meant to give us just a taste of the two new vehicles. As I said at the outset, with the wide range of vehicles that make up, it’s difficult for one brand to please everyone – but with the addition of a new spacious medium-sized SUV and a great-handling, fuel-efficient car (both with new ‘dial’ selectable transmissions), Ford have found a couple of extra ways to put a smile on my dial.