Ford Focus: Third report

16 Nov, 2011 2:00pm Darren Wilson

Five-door Focus has won over our family man with its entertaining drive as well as its gadgetry

For: 
The Driver Assistance Pack is great. Sensors incorporate Active City Stop, Traffic Sign Recognition and the Lane Keeping Aid, while there’s also Driver Alert, Auto High Beam and a Blind Spot Information System. It’s well worth the £750 – Active City Stop has already paid for itself by preventing an accident.
Against: 
Rear visibility is limited and the cream boot trim reflects in the rear window. This can catch your eye and makes it look as if a car has moved into the blind spot. And while our Titanium car has a raft of standard kit, I think it should include rear parking sensors as standard.
Our Focus is packed with technology. You can bypass traffic jams, monitor your blind spots and prevent low-speed shunts around town, but the fun really starts when you reach some open roads. The key to falling for this Ford is getting out of town.

It really is a hoot to attack some country lanes with. The confidence-inspiring grip and well judged steering allow you to make the most of the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine. After running a string of diesel models, I’m really enjoying the fruity soundtrack of the high-revving petrol engine.

The turbo provides nippy performance and pushes you to drive quickly. Throw in a six-speed manual box and precise brakes and you get a highly entertaining family hatchback.

It’s comfortable, too. The driving position is ideal, as the seats provide plenty of support and the pedals are exactly where you want them. I can sometimes feel my six-year-old son’s feet pressing through the back of my seat, which suggests space in the rear is limited. But this is more down to the fact he struggles to keep still for any length of time.

So what about the technology? Well, after initially being daunted by the array of buttons covering the dash, I now get it. Like most things, the layout is quite simple and reasonably intuitive once you have lived with it for a few days.

Controlling the sound system is a doddle. The joystick to the left of the steering wheel scrolls through various options, much like an original iPod. And when you connect a music player, you can control it from the dash, which is great. But unless I hit the shuffle option, I tend to listen to music beginning with the letters A, B and C, as I can’t be bothered to scroll down the list. So sadly there’s no chance of getting any Velvet Underground or Yazoo.

Still, Ford fits a DAB radio to the Focus as standard, so it’s debatable whether you need to connect a device at all. If you’re a news and sport fan, once you’ve heard Radio 5 Live without the medium-wave crackles, you won’t want to go back.

Some of the other technology from the Driver Assistance pack is incredibly clever and needs no effort on your part. I experienced Active City Stop when I got too close to a truck. The brake pedal dropped from beneath my foot and I felt the familiar grind of ABS as we came to a sharp halt. So the £750 option pack paid for itself without me lifting a finger (or pressing a pedal).

I’ve yet to experience the Focus steering itself, but I keep telling myself that my failure to trigger the Lane-Keeping Aid by staying alert and awake is a good thing. In any case, it’s amazing to find this level of kit in a family hatch – although rear parking sensors are a surprising omission. I’ve seen the TV ads highlighting the self-parking function. For me, this is a step too far, but limited rear visibility means sensors would help around town.

The boot isn’t huge, but it’s had no problem with camping trips, family holidays and weekly shopping. A Christmas getaway could be more of a challenge, but I’m more excited about tackling the open road than packing...

Extra Info

“I think I’m alone in actually finding the Focus quite attractive, but then it’s not hard to look good next to a Golf. Other than that, I just find it a little, well, dull. Yes, it drives nicely and the engine’s great, but it just doesn’t feel special. And the keyless go system is bonkers – you only need to press a button on the dash to start or stop the car, but you have to dig the keys out of your pocket to lock it.”
Steve Fowler, editor-in-chief

Disqus - noscript

From a modern, 1.6 car of modest output? We haven't moved on very far, have we - my old Ford Pop used to do that. 40 years ago.

I'm a little disappointed with the econonmy of my 1.6 (125PS) focus as well. 34.6 around town and about 42 average on a run.

my old 1989 1.6 Cavalier, with a carburettor, managed 42 around town and a whopping 55mpg on a run. Actual tank-to-tank calculated numbers.

Modern technology eh?!!

Is a deal breaker. Simple as that.

My new Focus is a joke and so are Ford they do not want to know about helping I get 45 mpg out of my new 1.6 Diesal estate not the 67 they say and i drive like a snail to get it better. I think we have another rip off Britain here. Can anyone help with how to get them to tell the true figuers.
These road tests tell you what Ford say but very few are brave enoth to say what thye get from the demo cars

I am glad to see a few speaking up about the fuel on this new Focus, us Brits are too soft and think we must be wrong and Ford are right when we can't get the 67 mpg they say. Who is going to stand up for us and make these big guys tell the real fuel figures, i think they would loose too many sales and this would not do.
Yes they have been at this for years but now is a time we can't afford to be 28p a litre worse off, as that is what it amounts to.Come on AC speak up and be on the readers side and not pamper to the Fords of this world. 'Please'

The styling is drab and the slab-like dash doesn't help with it's machine gun splatter of indeterminate buttons. Plus it's not as good to drive as its dad....

My MK5 Astra Sport Hatch 1.6T SRi is returning about 40mpg despite some 'vigorous' B-road driving as well as 6th gear cruising.
And apparently it has a bigger boot too?

Finally matched their fuel figures!!

52.3 mpg!!! trouble is I had to sit at 48 mph for the entire trip! 56 mph and I get 43-45 mpg, then the crunch, 60 mph and we're doen to 38mpg!!

Key specs

  • On fleet since: June 2011
  • Price when new: £19,745
  • Running costs: 30.4mpg
  • Mileage: 4,782
  • Engine / Power: 1.6-litre 4cyl/148bhp
  • Trade-in value now: N/A
  • Insurance Group / Quote: 19
  • Costs: None so far
  • Any problems?: None so far
  • Equipment: Driver Assistance Pack (£750), Candy Red pearlescent paint (£745), Convenience Pack (£525), sat-nav (£550), City Pack (£275), full-size spare (£75)
AEX 1,339
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