Ford Focus 2.0 TDCI Zetec S review

The 2-litre TDCI diesel is the second-quickest car in the current Ford Focus model range - with 161bhp and a 135mph top speed

Evo rating
from £21,345
  • Decent performance, economy, well-sorted chassis
  • Nose heavy compared to petrol, noisy when worked hard

What is it?

Ford’s range-topping diesel Focus, and the second most powerful model in the range – this side of the forthcoming ST. It uses a 161bhp version of Ford’s familiar 2-litre TDCI direct-injection diesel engine and costs £21,345 in the most dynamic Zetec-S form we’re testing here.

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

Technical highlights?

The diesel engine is basically in the same spec as when fitted to the considerably porkier Mondeo and S-Max, so it’s no surprise that it manages to raise the lighter Focus into warm hatchback levels of performance. The official claim is an 8.6-sec 0-62mph time and a 135mph top speed, together with a 56.5mpg combined economy figure.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Zetec S is basically an equipment package on top of the existing Zetec, adding slightly firmer sports suspension, 17-inch alloys and a bodykit – along with LED rear tail lamps. Our test car was also fitted with the optional Driver Assistance Package, which added a plethora of active safety features: city stop, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beam and a blind spot monitoring system.

What’s it like to drive? 

Like its petrol sister car, the 2-litre TDCI Zetec S has a supple, well-damped chassis that seems to work particularly well when asked to deal with British tarmac. It’s quick and composed when asked to deal with a B-road. 

The engine itself puts in a credible performance, with good low-down responses and a broad powerband that extends from around 1500rpm all the way to the 4000rpm at which peak power is delivered. Not that you’re likely to work it too hard in everyday use thanks to the combination of a fat torque curve and some fairly industrial noises if you venture too far around the rev counter. 

As with the petrol version, the TDCI Zetec S suffers from slightly empty-feeling electric power steering. You get used to it over time, but it still takes the edge off the driving experience. The diesel engine also feels heavier than the petrol powerplant, pulling the nose wide when asked to take tighter corners quickly.

The optional safety kit is well worth avoiding, though - the lane departure and blind spot systems suffer from lots of false positives and the automatic high beam is almost comically inept at working out when to dip the lights.

Advertisement - Article continues below

How does it compare?

It’s slightly slower – but considerably cheaper – than the Golf GTD, although it can’t match the Volkswagen on desirability. It also undercuts the similarly powered Vauxhall Astra 2.0 CDTi SRI by over £1000.

Anything else I need to know?

Ford is likely to offer a diesel version of the Focus ST, possibly using a tuned version of this engine (which comes with up to 198bhp in the Mondeo.) We managed 45mpg in rapid, real-world driving.


Engine1998cc, four cylinder, diesel, turbocharged
Max power161bhp @ 3750rpm
Max torque250 lb ft @ 2000rpm
0-608.6 secs (claimed 0-62mph)
Top speed135mph
On salenow


Ford Focus Hatchback

2019 Ford Focus EcoBoost review

9 Dec 2019
Ford Focus Hatchback

Ford Focus RS Mountune m400X upgrade most powerful yet

4 Feb 2019

Most Popular

sports cars

Porsche ditches four-cylinder for flat-six in Cayman and Boxster GTS

New models eschew turbos with detuned 4-litre from the Spyder and GT4
15 Jan 2020
Aston Martin DBX SUV

Aston Martin DBX prototype review

It might be late to the party, but has Aston Martin’s first ever SUV nailed the brief?
15 Jan 2020
Toyota GT 86

Toyota GT86 vs Mazda MX-5 vs Abarth 124 Spider – lightweight sports car shootout

Three affordable sports cars from Japan and, er, Japan battle it out on the Yorkshire Dales
14 Jan 2020
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019