AT12MARThere used to be something desperately tragic about a 1.0-litre engine. Trundling along in the slow lane, lacking the power to take on the cut and thrust of traffic, a 1.0 was never a viable option in anything but the smallest hatchbacks. Fast forward to 2012 and it’s a very different prospect. With the cost of motoring increasing in every area, the potential for greater economy outweighs the need for speed in the eyes of most.

Thankfully, we can now have our cake and eat it, thanks to Ford’s range of EcoBoost engines. Already available in 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre guises, there is now a 1.0-litre turbocharged three cylinder version which will be first available in the Ford Focus.

Producing 123bhp – the power of a conventional 1.6-litre engine – and returning combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg, it may prove the ideal solution for those looking to save on fuel bills without skimping on performance or opting for a diesel model. Peak pulling power of 125lb/ft is available from 1,400-4,500rpm, which ensures that you won’t need to rev it mercilessly to make decent progress.

A lower powered 99bhp version will also be available, with an even better fuel consumption figure of 58.9mpg.

Official performance figures for the Focus 1.0-litre have yet to be confirmed, but don’t expect it to be lightning fast. However, the Ford Focus has a rare quality: it mates the drip-dry practicality needed in a family hatchback with a driving experience that will excite you like none of its competitors when you show it a winding stretch of tarmac. It probably won’t get you to your destination any quicker but it will be a whole lot more fun. And in this age of austerity, surely it’s fun and not outright speed that matters most?

12-plate wish list

Feb 01: Hyundai i40 Tourer
Feb 02: Audi A4
Feb 03: Ford Focus
Feb 06: Citroen DS4
Feb 07: Volkswagen up!
Feb 08: Vauxhall Astra GTC
Feb 09: Audi A1 Sportback
Feb 10: Renault Scenic
Feb 13: Subaru XV
Feb 14: Renault Twingo (video)
Feb 15: MINI Coupe
Feb 16: Nissan LEAF
Feb 17: MINI Coupe (video)
Feb 20: Hyundai i30
Feb 21: Chevrolet Camaro
Feb 22: Porsche 911 (video)
Feb 23: Kia Picanto
Feb 24: BMW 1-Series
Feb 27: Honda Civic
Feb 28: Hyundai Veloster