Lately, Ford and Mitsubishi advertisements in Metro Manila broadsheets have been trumpeting the fantastic fuel economy of the 1.6-liter Focus and the 1.6-liter Lancer: 19.07 kilometers per liter touted for the Focus and 19.8 kpl for the Lancer.
The small print in the Ford ad claims that the Focus 1.6L Trend four-door sedan with the six-speed PowerShift (PS) automatic transmission (A/T) achieved 19.07 kpl, as witnessed by the Department of Energy in the Ford Focus Fuel Economy Run in Oct. 27-29, 2012. However, the Focus featured in the ad as costing only P859,000 (starting price) is not the P998,000 Trend, but the manual transmission (M/T) 1.6L Ambiente.
The Mitsubishi Lancer ad, on the other hand, does not highlight the retail price of the car like the Ford Focus ad does, but instead asks: “How long does your full tank last?” It claims that the Lancer EX 1.6 gets fuel mileage of up to 19.8 kpl and clarifies in small print below that this mileage is “based on European Union combined cycle test procedures at a constant speed of 90 kph in a closed circuit with the air-conditioner operating in normal condition. Consumption may vary depending on driving habits and conditions.” The ad does not specify which Lancer 1.6 EX model achieved 19.8 kpl, whether it was the GLX with five-speed M/T (P825,000) or the MX with four-speed Invecs-II A/T (P930,000.)
PIQUED. My curiosity was piqued by these ads, so I borrowed a Focus 1.6L Trend four-door sedan from Ford Philippines and a Lancer 1.6L EX GLX from Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. To prevent comparing apples and oranges since the 1.6 Lancer sent to me had a manual gearbox, I asked to test-drive a 1.6L Focus M/T but was told that Ford is no longer pushing the 1.6L Focus M/T Ambiente. That’s odd since the ad campaign for the Focus 1.6L highlighting the P859,000 retail price of the Focus refers to the M/T Ambiente.
The Trend is the top-of-the-line 1.6L Focus, so the transmission is six-speed PowerShift A/T, not manual. The 1.6L Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (TI-VCT) Duratec engine produces 123.29 HP and 159 Newton-meter max torque. When it was delivered to me with a full tank (55 liters), it had 12,865 kilometers on the odometer. By the time the odometer read 12,988, or 123 km later, the fuel needle was fluctuating between one-half and three-fourths tank full, so it was difficult to accurately pinpoint how many kilometers were traveled per liter. But undoubtedly, the six-speed A/T boosts fuel efficiency in the Trend, helping the Focus to overcome the gas-guzzling reputation of the previous generation.
Focus models, whether 1.6L or 2.0L, are considerably pricier than their Japanese and Korean competitors in the compact-car segment because of Ford’s extremely solid build, impressive craftsmanship and impeccable fit-and-finish. The Focus line is noted for frisky performance and a fun-to-drive DNA. Focus cars are also better-equipped, with the following as standard: disc brakes front and rear, stabilizers fore and aft, torque vectoring control, and Hill Launch Assist and Electronic Stability Program in the Trend aside from ABS (antilock braking system), EBD (electronic brake force distribution) and BA (brake assist)—not to mention the Microsoft-powered Ford SYNC connectivity system. The only conveniences lacking in the P998,000 Trend are a reverse parking camera or rear parking sensors, speed-sensing door locks and a key bezel that lights up at night.
THE GLX. At P825,000, the 1.6L Lancer EX GLX M/T costs P34,000 less than the entry-level 1.6L Focus Ambiente M/T, yet it has a reverse parking camera which the P998,000 Focus Trend lacks. The Lancer GLX was delivered to me with a full tank (59 liters) and 3,736 km on the odometer plus a “480 km to empty” indicator. Four days later when the odometer read 3,951 km and “340 km to empty,” the fuel gauge showed that the tank was still two-thirds full. I was hoping that after running 215 km, the gas would have gone down to half-tank so that I could compute the mileage per liter. But I’m not very good at doing math, although my father was an actuary and statistician.
The Lancer GLX’s 1.6L 16-valve twin cam MIVEC engine delivers 115.40 HP and 154 Nm max torque and is mated to a precision-tuned five-speed M/T. Although the GLX is by no means a high-performance car, I enjoyed rowing through the gears as the M/T gave an exhilarating feeling of hands-on control and connection to the road. The 1.6L Lancer compares adequately with the 1.6L Focus in terms of swift acceleration, handling and agility. The Lancer GLX has as standard equipment four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, EBD and BA.
The advantage presented by the 1.6L Focus Trend and the 1.6L Lancer GLX over mass market subcompact cars is that they have the interior space to accommodate five passengers (including driver) while at the same time offering above-average fuel efficiency. They may cost more and may consume a bit more fuel than subcompacts but they are safer, more fully kitted and much more comfortable to ride or drive, especially on long out-of-town trips.
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