Ford Focus: Winter warmer

  • The Focus takes winter weather in its stride
  • 'Quickclear' heated windscreen proves useful
  • Ford's climate controls are simple and effective

We've all been there. You've repeatedly ignored your alarm, and now it's a frantic rush to get ready and out the door.

You charge downstairs, grabbing your car keys off the table, and triumphantly fling open the front door. You can make it in time.

Jumping in the car, the engine fires quickly. You turn on the front lights and suddenly find that you can't see through the windscreen.

"It's only condensation", you tell yourself as you switch on the wipers. They grind awkwardly across the screen. It doesn't clear. It's ice.

Fortunately, for many Focus owners, this won't prove to be a problem. Cars in Zetec specification, or higher, all receive a 'Quickclear' heated front windscreen. You simply press the button on the dash, and the heater elements go to work to quickly soften and remove any ice. It's the same system employed in the more common heated rear screen.

This means that, in combination with using the wipers, it takes very little time to clear your windscreen - even if it's heavily iced over. The heated glass also helps combat fogging on damp days. Using air-con should prevent this anyway, but it’s good to have it just in case. 

There are no major negatives to having a heated front windscreen either. The heater elements are all very fine, and it's only if you get up close and personal that you'll notice them. The only potential issue is if they burn out. The screen will either stop working altogether, or cease defrosting in a particular area. It can't be repaired, as the elements are embedded in the glass, so the whole windscreen has to be replaced. That can be a particularly costly expense.

Further improving the Ford's capabilities in winter conditions are heated washer jets, also standard on Zetec models and upwards. These won't freeze solid in extremely cold weather, further allowing you to maintain the best possible visibility in poor conditions.

As the temperatures have fallen, the Focus has proved to have other advantages. Its heater gets warm quickly, meaning it doesn’t take long to get comfortable in the cabin. Its climate control system works very effectively as well, with simple controls and intuitive settings. With it set to ‘auto’, all you have to do is choose your desired temperature and leave it be.

Owners also get, as with most Fords since the mid-eighties, a low outside temperature warning. When the air temperature drops below four degrees Celsius, it glows orange to warn you of the cold conditions. Below zero degrees Celsius, it turns red. It’s usually pretty obvious if it’s cold, or not, but it’s nice to have a reminder that there could be ice about.

Although features like these aren’t by any means essential, they can remove some of the considerable frustrations and difficulties that arise from driving vehicles in low temperatures. That potentially means less stress, and a higher degree of concentration on the road.

That's a big plus point in winter conditions, when you really need to be paying attention. As a result, the Ford should prove an easy car to live with - and drive - when winter really starts making itself known.

Current mileage: 14,034 miles

Average mpg: 44.6mpg

Quickclear windscreen means it doesn't take long to have... ice-free view of the road ahead. Ideal for those in a hurry.