Ford Focus: Just one thing

  • Ford's Focus takes a retrograde step
  • Simple oversight is a potential annoyance
  • Identical failing found in Toyota's Auris

Last time I mentioned how there wasn't anything that annoyed me about the Focus. I positively raved about how well designed and thought out was.

Predictably, the next time I got back into the Ford, it immediately became obvious that something was missing. Something that was mildly annoying.

"What was it?", I hear you cry. Brace yourself.

There’s no low level warning for the windscreen washer fluid.

Now, I know you're all reeling from this hammer blow to the Ford's reputation - so let me explain myself. It simply strikes me as somewhat of an oversight. Although fluid checks should be part of your weekly routine, it’s all too easy to get caught short with washer fluid.

You might not think this much of an issue. I guarantee, however, that the next time you’re driving down gritted roads and your windscreen gets covered with an immovable film of grey sludge, you’ll curse the Ford’s lack of a warning.

Even my old 1989 Ford Granada had a proper alert for low fluid washer level. Consequently it seems somewhat of a retrograde step, especially given how safety conscious most manufacturers are these days.

Making the situation even more bizarre was a reference to such a warning in the owners' manual. Reputedly it was supposed to appear on the main display. Alas, with the reservoir completely depleted, no message was displayed - even if I dug around on the 'status' options. I resorted to turning the car off, then on again, to see if anything came up. No joy.

After all, I've driven cheaper cars that have the relevant warning light - so why doesn't the Focus, which costs upwards of £13,995? This oversight is something that also blighted the Auris Hybrid, which costs over £20,000. Would it really break the bank to add a simple switch and bulb circuit? Surely there's space on the dash for just one more wafer-thin warning light.

It then occurred to me, as I drove into work with yet another smeared windscreen, that only cars with the optional xenon headlights may get the low fluid level alert system.

That's because it's a legal requirement to have washer jets for cars equipped with xenon lights, to keep them clean. Dirt on xenon headlights increases glare for other road users, as well as cutting light output. That creates a requirement for an appropriate low fluid warning. This means that you'd only find this feature, as standard, on top-specification Titanium X models.

Still, I'd rather have illumination issues than drastically reduced visibility. I'm sure the majority of people would probably agree with me - other road users would presumably prefer being dazzled, as opposed to being driven into.

So, it appears to be the case that if you want what you think would be an obvious feature; you've no choice but to buy the most expensive model for £21,250. I will endeavour to confirm if this is the case, in due course.

Despite this minor disappointment, the Ford is still proving to be a very competent and capable car.

Current mileage: 8,984 miles

Average mpg: 47.4mpg

Twenty-two-year-old Granada, besides other creature comforts...

...has a low washer fluid light - so why doesn't the modern Focus?