Nearly three years ago, when I said to my accountant that I was considering buying a Ford Focus XR5 Turbo, he told me quite plainly, that I had rocks in my head.
“These bloody turbo cars are rubbish,” he said. “They drink fuel like crazy and you cannot drive that fast on public roads.”
While he didn’t buy it, I did.
I carefully noted down the XR5’s virtues but, if I’m being completely honest, I decided to buy it for the sound the exhaust makes when you floor the throttle. As I did this, my notes about boot capacity and servicing costs flew out its open windows…
When it comes to cars, I am easily seduced by aural gratification and the XR5 Turbo is special in this regard. Quiet and refined when cruising at steady revs, put your foot down and it clears its throat and before you know it, sounding like Pavarotti gargling Listerine.
This is not to say that the XR5 is one dimensional. For one thing, it rides remarkably well for a performance-oriented vehicle. Yes, sometimes there is too much body roll around corners, but for the most part, Ford engineers got the ride/handling balance spot on.
The steering is excellent. It’s meaty, progressive and full of feel. The Recaro seats hug you tightly in all the right spots but are also supremely comfortable during long journeys. The relationship and weighting of the clutch and gearshift is also well thought out.
Of course, the XR5 is not perfect. Its Achilles heel is fuel consumption. You are generally doing well if you manage to get more than 400km out of its 45-litre fuel tank. And let’s face it, when an engine sounds as good as the XR5’s, you are going to be putting your foot down just for the sake of it, and that never helps fuel economy.
As much as I have enjoyed owning my XR5, it is now time to let it go and experience something different from the world of performance motoring. My accountant is pleased, but this is because I am yet to tell him that I will be replacing it with a car that he is going to disapprove of even more – a Porsche Boxster.