Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Dubai / Mumbai
Award Points: 20
| | Driving a Ford Focus in the UK
Hello friends, this time I will be writing a short review about a trip me and my friends made in the UK -
The car :
Driving in the UK is a far lot cheaper and better than going by bus or train, especially if it's long distances. Since, I did not own a car in here, we always rent a car to travel long distances. To rent a car easily, you need to be above 26 years old, you need to have a valid driving license (Indian driving license will do as long as its in English and has your photo in it) and two proofs of address, preferably your bank statement. They will need to look at your bank statement.
You have a lot of options to choose from. We chose a Class D car which is like a maxi hatchback. Above that are sedans, which we did not feel is necessary as we did not have any luggage to warrant the boot. Maxi hatchbacks would mean you will get the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or Seat Leon, whichever is available. I had the option to choose between a black Focus, a "mehendi" green Astra and a red Leon and I chose the Focus.
Now maxi hatchbacks are not available in India. Think of the Focus as a competitor to the Hyundai i30, the bigger brother of our i20 and you will get the drift. These cars are huge inside, like a sedan... but without a boot.
Now UK sells the following configurations of the Ford Focus :
1.6 - 95PS, 105PS & 115PS
2.0 - 140PS & 163PS
1.0 - 100PS
1.6 - 105PS, 125PS, 150PS & 182PS
I got the Ford Focus 1.6 Duratorq TDCi with 115PS. I wish we had the 2.0 diesel with 163PS or atleast 140PS but now I am glad we got the 115PS car... I will come to that later.
The drive :
We planned to cover atleast 3 different places over the weekend. I was the sole driver accompanied by 4 friends. The drive was from Coventry to Stonehenge to Coventry. The next day it was from Coventry to Blackpool to Birmingham to Coventry. The total drive was for about 565 miles, that is approx 910 kms. This is not counting the various deviations we had!
Coming to the car, it was a FORD. Now FORDs are known for their sublime ride quality, high speed stability, great steering feedback and precise handling. The Focus is a great car and now I know why it is that popular in the UK, along with the Fiesta hatchback. By the way, people in UK are really fond of hatchbacks followed by sedans. SUVs are rare here. The most common cars on UK roads are Fords, Vauxhalls, & Peugots.
Now, driving in the UK is easy as well as difficult. It is easy because people in the UK are very very disciplined and stick to rules ALWAYS. A lane means a lane. A red light always means STOP. The roads here are always precisely designed to allow smooth flow of traffic. Every deviation from the main flow of traffic will always have a different lane to turn left or right. You dont have to fight for space on the roads, drivers are always slow, patient and give you more than enough space to pass. Once, you enter the motorway (highways), there is nothing to stop you. You can cruise endlessly for miles and traffic is negligible.
It is difficult because you are also expected the follow the same rules and be courteous! I spent a whole day understanding traffic signs and road markings before taking out the car. This is very very important as you need to know which lane to choose before entering a round about, for example. Entering the round about on the proper lane and turning your indicators at the right moment gives the driver behind you an indication of which exit you are going to take... All roads have proper markings, so there is nothing to worry about if you are attentive. Secondly, under no circumstances can you tail gate any car. A minimum distance of 2 cars with the car in the front is expected. No lane changes without turning on your indicators. 9/10 times, when you turn on the indicator, the car behind you will slow down to let you pass, even if they are faster than you. And again, the faster car will not simply swerve to the right to overtake you. He will wait for you to get back to the left lane again to overtake you. During this time, he will not even flash or honk at you. That's how patient these drivers are! By the way, honking is not allowed here!
On the motorways, you HAVE TO stick to the speed limit. There are speed cameras everywhere! The minimum fine is Rs. 5400! Normally, its a 3 lane motorway on either sides. You are supposed to stick to the left most lane. All cars will overtake you from the right/middle lane. If the roads is relatively empty, you will hardly see any car on the right most lane, near the median/divider. As i said, these guys wait for you to move to the left. You cannot stop anywhere on the motorway. There are designated parking spots assigned. Else you can take a small deviation to 'SERVICES' where have eateries, restaurants, fuel pumps, washrooms and designated parking spaces for truck drivers to rest. Now, speed limits vary and you need to be attentive to the road signs. If there is no speed limit mentioned, the national speed limit (default) is 70 mph, that is 110 kmph. So, in other ways, you cannot legally exceed 110 on UK roads. Now this is the reason I mentioned I am happy I got the 115PS car and not the 163PS one! It would have been of no use! The only thing I missed in our Focus was a cruise control.
Inside city limits, the speed limit is usually 30 mph, that is 50 kmph. And however empty the roads are, all drivers stick to speed limits. On the motorways, you do see some cars going at 80 or 90 mph, but that is probably because they know where the speed cameras are. But over the 1000 kms of drive, I did not see a single rash driver and I mean it...
While coming back, we encountered heavy snow. Needless to say, speeds dropped down to about 50mph on the motorway. Inside city limits, where the road was covered in snow, speed was as low as 20-30 mph. On 2 instances, I even had tyres slipping and spinning! All cars are really slow and keep and extra distance in the snow.
I must mention that UK is really confused with the units. While speed is measured in miles (and not kms), they measure fuel quantity in litres, not gallons! All in all, we had a nice trip. It was fun, comfortable (car heater was at full blast!) and really stress free as compared to a bus or a train.
And yes, the Focus gave us a fantastic fuel efficiency of 23-24 kmpl... beat that!
Ford Mustang & Mitsubishi Lancer // Dubai
Mahindra XUV & Honda Civic // Mumbai
Last edited by raj_5004; 12th February 2013 at 04:20 PM.