Along with some styling changes, a revised interior, a standard rear-view camera, and some new safety features, the 2015 Ford Focus is now available with a new turbocharged 123 hp 1.0L three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. This engine, which first appeared in the smaller Fiesta hatchback last year, joins the Focus’ standard 160 hp 2.0L four-cylinder engine (S Sedan, SE Sedan/Hatch, Titanium Sedan/Hatch), the 252 hp EcoBoost 2.0L four (ST Sedan/Hatch), and the 107 kW (143 hp) electric powertrain in the Focus Electric (Hatchback) bringing the available 2015 Focus powerplant choices to four.

When I drove the 2014 Fiesta equipped with this 1.0L EcoBoost three-banger last year, I found it to be a fantastic little engine that provides a surprising amount of power with very good fuel economy through a simple combination of turbocharging, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing in a small-displacement engine. Ford buyers in Europe love this little powerhouse: it now accounts for 32 percent of Focus sales and 26 percent of Fiesta sales over there. Ford has had to double production capacity at its engine plant in Cologne, Germany to more than 1,000 engines per day to meet demand.

But as with the Fiesta, the 1.0L EcoBoost engine in the 2015 Focus is available only with a six-speed manual transmission – an automatic is not available. That certainly limits its appeal in North America where automatics are much more popular. On the other hand, those who enjoy the greater control and fun-to-drive qualities of a manual transmission will find this slick-shifting six-speed manual improves the Focus’ driving experience by making it more entertaining and involving. If you haven’t driven a manual in a while, you might have forgotten just how much it enhances the feeling of being in control of the vehicle.

In Canada, availability of the 1.0L engine is limited to the Focus Sedan in SE trim with the manual transmission. It’s disappointing that the 1.0L EcoBoost engine is not available in the Focus hatchback as that is generally considered the sportier and more practical body style.

Compared to other compact cars, the fuel economy of the Focus 1.0L EcoBoost is very good, but not class-leading. NR Can’s official fuel economy figures for the Focus 1.0L EcoBoost are 8.1 L/100km city/5.9 hwy/7.1 combined. That’s better than the Focus 2.0L sedan with the five-speed manual which offers 9.3 city/6.7 hwy/8.1 combined, and the Focus 2.0L 6-speed automatic with 8.9 city/6.2 hwy/7.7 combined, but not the best in its class. Surprisingly, there are four compact sedans with larger and more powerful four-cylinder engines that offer equivalent or better fuel economy than the three-cylinder Focus EcoBoost – some with automatic or continuously variable transmissions.

They are the Toyota Corolla Eco (140 hp 1.8L four-cylinder, CVT with Eco Driving Mode: 7.7/5.6/6.8); Mazda3 (155 hp 2.0L SkyActiv, six-speed manual: 8.0/5.8/7.0; six-speed manumatic 7.9/5.7/6.9); Honda Civic (143-hp 1.8L four-cylinder, CVT: 7.9/6.1/7.1); and Chevrolet Cruze Eco (138 hp 1.4L four-cylinder, six-speed manual: 8.4/5.6/7.1).

There are also two diesel compact sedans with equal or better fuel economy: Chevrolet Cruze Diesel (151 hp 2.0L four-cylinder diesel, six-speed automatic: 8.7/5.1/7.1); and the VW Jetta TDI Diesel (150 hp 2.0L four-cylinder TDI diesel, six-speed manual 7.7/5.2/6.5; DSG 7.5/5.3/6.5)

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