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A sexy saloon completes new Focus line-up

Being one of the first motoring journalists to drive the new Ford Focus, I wasn't expecting any real surprises at the Irish launch last week.

I was wrong. There were two surprises in store for the waiting media.

Firstly was how stunning the saloon was in the flesh.

We'd all seen the pictures and assumed it would resemble its older brother - which, to be fair, looked liked a hatchback with a boot stuck on the rear.

An afterthought if you like. You never quite got the feeling that the designers actually sat down and built it from scratch. Not this time around.

The flowing line which sweeps down along the bottom of the doors continues up around the wheel arch joining the brake lights - giving it a really sleek, muscular look.

It's that look and build quality which will break tradition and we are sure to see younger drivers opting for the saloon. The second treat in store was the fact that I actually got to drive the bog-standard model. No whistles or bells to distract me, the entry level 95bhp 1.6 diesel is far superior to many of its rivals mid range models.

Technology

But it is the driving dynamic, we're after. It that very drive which made the previous Focus the benchmark for all others to follow, and it is there in spades.

Technology is the buzz word with the Blue Oval engineers and it is jam-packed with the latest safety gadgets.

It is not something that you can see or touch but are so impressive they will one day become standard features on all cars.

Take the Torque Vectoring Control System which comes as standard - enhancing cornering stability and control.

In plain English it means by the time the orange squiggle lights up on the dash board it has already saved your life and you can’t put a price on that.

Another is the Low Speed Safety System – or an anti-rubber necking device which applies the brakes automatically if it senses an imminent collision under 30kph.

Active Park Assist (which parallel parks the car at the push of a button), Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Traffic Sign Recognition (telling you what speed zone you are in) are all reasonably priced options.

Engine choice are a 1.6 litre diesel 95bhp or 115bhp (both band A with stop/start technology €104 road tax) 2.0 litre TDCi 115 bhp auto or the 1.6 litre VCT 125bhp petrol (tax band B - €156 a year).

Prices start at €20,825 + €450 for a saloon.