Ford Focus 2014 ride review

12 Jun, 2014 5:15pm Luke Madden

We've had the chance to try the new Ford Focus 2014 - from the passenger seat

Things move fast in the family hatch class and Ford is well aware that with a new Golf on the road, it needs to up the refinement, tech and green credentials of the Ford Focus. So that’s exactly what it’s done for this mid-life facelift – among plenty of other improvements – and Auto Express has ridden on the new car to find out if it’s cut out to be a class leader.

We’re at Ford’s testing facility in Lommel, Belgium, where we get our first chance to see the car outside of a motorshow hall. The new Ford Focus for 2014 has a smart design out on the road, with the new LED running lights and bold chrome grille creating a much more premium look.

Stepping in to the cabin you’ll notice a new steering wheel with clearer and more defined controls and a larger, sharper touchscreen that controls a few more functions now. It’s allowed Ford to ditch many of the confusing buttons from the old car and it feels immediately more approachable as a result.

The car we’ve got the chance to ride in is powered by a 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine, developed from the old 1.6-litre unit. Power is either 148bhp – as in our car – or 178bhp, meaning it has identical outputs to the car it replaces but with fuel economy that’s 9 per cent better. That means we should see a figure of more than 50mpg when the official numbers are released.

Ford Focus 2014 ride interior

Apparently this engine picks up earlier in the revs than the old 1.6, too, and on a back-to-back ride with the two engines, it felt a fraction more responsive when our driver floored the throttle in a high gear. From a driver’s point of view, it’s likely to be subtle enough that you won’t notice the difference – despite Ford managing to lower emissions and improve economy.

There’s been plenty of work to improve how quiet things are in the cabin, and Ford is now saying that the Focus is more refined than the Golf, the Hyundai i30 and the Audi A3. The extra insulated windows, the improved door seals and the wheel-well insulation all play their part in reducing road and wind noise here but again it’s not a drastic improvement compared with the old car.

One area Ford was particularly keen to talk about was an area that we didn’t have the opportunity to try – the steering. Apparently it’s been made more responsive just off centre and it feels more progressive and – as a result – more confidence inspiring. What’s clear from the passenger seat is that the Focus has lost none of its impressive handling – it’s just as playful as ever, and if the steering is up to scratch, probably even more so.

Ford Focus 2014 ride rear action

In terms of how it rides, there have been some minor changes to the suspension but they’re too subtle to notice, at least on our brief 20-minute passenger ride around Ford’s test facility. It’s fair to say that it’s just as compliant as it’s ever been, though – you shouldn’t have any worries about it being too firm.

With a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine emitting just 99g/km and a new 1.5 TDCi diesel that should manage around 75mpg, this Focus has an engine range that can match and – in some cases – outperform the Golf. With new safety features like a warning for traffic approaching while you’re reversing on to a road it also now has the tech to match the Golf, too.

There wasn’t actually that much wrong with the Focus but with the updated styling, much-improved interior and fuel-efficient engine range the decision between Golf and Focus is tougher than ever. We’ll have to drive it before delivering the ultimate verdict but the Focus is a potential class-leader once again.

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Another boring German engineered car. Yawn....

These passenger rides annoy me a little. They're just a PR stunt and don't really tell you anything about the ride and handling - only a driver can make any reasoned judgements. But on the upside, I really like the new look and the improved interior sounds good. Roll on the proper road test.


It got you to read about it, must not be too boring. Keep driving your 89 cavalier you snoz.

I agree. It's like taxicab confessions of an auto journalist.

Next thing you know, they'll be reviewing them by standing by the side of a road and watching them drive by.

What baffles me most is why they claim the Golf is the best in class, yet award the SEAT Leon the title? Have they forgotten? Oh of course, Volkswagen pays the bills and they have specified that a Volkswagen product must be mentioned in at a minimum of 90% of articles.

It's so misleading to some car buyers who might actually trust the reviews, thinking they're independent and unbiased. Magazines need to make money, but I think regulation is needed to stop these back handed payments.

AE it's morally wrong. Either make it more explicit about the commercial relationship you have with VW or cut all ties.

And the Golf would be declared the winner thanks to its "stupendous street appeal" or something equally ridiculous.

Looks like an even more downmarket Kia Cee'd! No thanks.

It's not like the focus needed some improvement handling wise or anything. These are all compomised small family cars in the end. If you care to do a-weight db measurements you'll see that in terms of refinement they are all very close.

At least the horrible front end is remedied. But the small boot remains an obvious -buy the SW- nod...It's biggest drawback.

It's not German. The engines are designed and made in the UK and much of the rest done in Ford Belgium and Germany.

Why does the golf have to be mentioned pretty much every other sentence? There are other rivals ya know. The VW group advertising has become too blatant, would be nice for even one review to be unbiased....

Some of the engines are built in the UK and the Transit van has its roots here, but the UK is a tiny part of the Ford Europe jigsaw.

The HQ is in Cologne, Germany but more importantly, the Ford research and development HQ is also in Germany, Aachen. This is where the vast majority of engineering R&D takes place. The "Kinetic Styling" of modern Fords, was the work of a Brit, based in Germany.

Of course Ford International is American, as was good old Henry but most of the European Fords can be called German.

Another dull Ford trying to look like an Aston.
If this is styled in Germany, it cann't be by the Germans.

The face lift has most defiantly improved the rather dreary Focus styling, but as small family cars go I’d still have the Mazda 3.
Having said that if it was only a choice between a Golf or Focus, I’d defiantly have the new Focus any day and hour, and minute and any second over the bland VW Golf.

I think the SMMT UK car sales for May say it all.

No2 VW Golf 7,134, sales up 36%
No4 Ford Focus 5,824, sales down 23%

VW are the new kings of the UK, Ford are slowly on the way out.

VW now sell loads more cars in the UK now, if you add up all the VW owned brands UK sales, V.A.G. quietly overtook unnoticed Ford at about the time Ford replaced its British made Escort with a German made Focus.

May UK sales
VW (Audi - Porsche - Seat - Skoda - VW) 44,451
Ford 23,549

The Focus will need a complete transformation to be quieter on the road than the latest Golf. And the mpg figures for that petrol turbo are still far worse than the Golf: its 1.4tsi 150 gives 60mpg combined. Have owned many Fords over the last 20 years and have a lot of affection for them, but the latest Golf is hard to beat.

Have you ever heard the expression, lies, damn lies and statistics? The figures for May show the Ford Fiesta as top seller. The year to date figures show that the Ford Focus has out sold the VW Golf. The sales volume of every model dips just before a new version is released. Ford are not on the way out!

So it took all of them brands to less than double Ford's (a single brand) sales? That shows how strong that one brand is if it takes 5 brands to not even double it's sales, according to your figures.

definitely or defiantly? I'd definitely have anything, even a Hyundai, over a Ford.

Ford are really only popular in the UK though. Look at any other country, they are outsold by VW and many other makes.

As i said above, Ford are really only popular in the UK though. Look at any other country, they are outsold by VW and many other makes.

I think you mean most not some engines. Dagenham produces more than 50% of all Ford's diesel engines sold Worldwide. Add in the petrol capacity of Bridgend and they can make 2 million units in the UK. Last time I checked it was running at around 1.3-1.6 million units pa.being produced.
The 2012 International engine of the year award was won by the 3 cylinder power-plant designed by Ford UK.
The details above are on Fords own website.

The Golf is nothing special IMO - there are a few of its competitors I would take over it.

Agree - borrowed a new Mazda 3 over a weekend and was highly impressed with it - its the one I'd put my own money on, but would also rather have a Focus over the dreary Golf. The Focus and 3 are easily the best 'drivers cars', and look the part too.

Not true, Ford are a huge global company. Ford out sell V.A.G. in many markets, the U.S.A. being one. Globally V.A.G. do sell more cars than Ford. World wide, VAG are the third largest manufacturer and Ford are the fifth.

*NEW HA HA LOL More like a face lift.

They make parts and components and even whole cars in lots of different countries. This is because they get grants and tax breaks from all the govts involved. All the big manufacturers do this. The fact is that Ford Europe HQ and R&D HQ are based in Germany. It's the same with GM Opel/Vauxhall. They are German! They don't advertise this fact because they want potential customers to think that they are benefiting their own country when they buy these cars.

Nissan's European design centre is in London. Their engineering HQ in Cranfield in Bedordshire and their Sunderland plant produced more cars than Italy last year. Using your logic they are a British company. In fact they are a Japanese multinational. Ford is an American multinational.

If Ford didn't have the UK as it's fanboy buyers country, the Fiesta would be struggling to hit the top 20 best sellers in Western Europe, and the Focus would barely reach 10th. Only selling in UK as so many companies buy them and get hefty fleet discounts, same with Vauxhall. Maybe in USA they sell well, they are an American brand afterall. But as for Europe, VW Golf alone has sold over half a million units in the first trimester of this year, taking number one spot. Focus is 2nd with over 200,000 cars less, and would be in 10th, behind Octavia if it wasn't for high sales in UK .

Ford is not just big in the U.K. and the U.S.A. The Focus has been the best selling car in the WORLD, for the last two years. Ford sold over 400000 Focus cars last year, just in China. I don't know why you have a problem with Ford? I drive an Audi, but I have no problem with any other car brand.

LOL carry on living in your deluded bubble! Actually, the Almera was a British design but was just a project sent from Japan. The same with the last Honda Civic. Ford Germany/Europe is on a whole different scale. They are as German as JLR are British! Why do you think that Ford's HQ and R&D centres are in Germany when Germany has some of the most expensive labour in the world? And why do you think the German sponsored press love Fords so much? As I said Ford have factories and design facilities across Europe including Dunton but they get huge grants from our government to keep them going. It's a total con.

Some folk here seen to be blind to just how VAG have overtaken Ford UK, since they stopped making the British made Ford Escort, Ford UK fortunes seem to have gone down hill since the German made Focus arrived in the UK.

May 2001 UK sales
2001 Ford 40,368
2001 VAG 24,861

May 2014 UK sales
2014 VAG 44,451
2014 Ford 23,549

Brits now buy more cars from VW Group in 2014 than they did, back in 2001.

I think the SMMT UK car sales for May say it all.
No2 VW Golf 7,134, sales up 36%
No4 Ford Focus 5,824, sales down 23%

Some of the posts here make me laugh, to the fickle Focus posters here, why the question l ask you why were VW Golf sales up +36% in the UK in May ( Not to bothered with poor excuses for the 23% drop off in sales) ?

Me l am just neutral, and very pleased to see the Mustang arriving in the UK next year.

World Car of the year 2009 & 2013 was the VW Golf awarded by a jury of 48 international automotive journalists from 22 countries. To many other mags to name here have also voted the same way.

When did the Focus last win World Car of the Year, l supposed 48 international automotive journalists from 22 countries are all wrong as well, they should have listened to CarGeeks own narrow mind own self opinion is that counts? LOL

I think the SMMT UK car sales for May say it all.
No2 VW Golf 7,134, sales up 36%
No4 Ford Focus 5,824, sales down 23%

Did VW they bribe all those Focus/Golf class buyers in May, oh my God the plot thickens?

Crumbs, okay. I suppose you're right. Let's just allow your average car buyer to be duped into thinking it's Golf or nothing in the family hatch class.

So you've done a half decent job of proving Golf's sell well, but nothing else. Your point, please.

Much ado about, well, perhaps, something! AE cranking on about a vehicle they only could ride in for twenty minutes, yet alone drive. Quite enough though to set assorted doughboys and stormtroopers off banging on about nothing in particular. More than ever like a bunch of football supporters.

Last two Golf models both won World Car of the Year 2009 & 2013, you can't blame Auto Express for giving them the award. 48 international automotive independent journalists from 22 countries were all wrong as well?

When did the Focus last win world car of the year?

Firstly the Seat Leon got the AE award.

Secondly I'm not a Focus fan, so makes no difference to me how the Focus is rated.

Thirdly, you have no real point except that the Golf sells very well and has won awards. I'm not arguing with these facts.

Probably because VW Group includes Audi and Skoda, whose sales have increased exponentially since the late 1990s. 88% growth for Skoda and 84% for Audi over the last 10 years, so that is where most of the increase is coming from. As VW has a broad spread of brands it has been able to take full advantage of strong growth in the premium and budget sectors.

Ford does not have an answer to this and neither does anyone else. Acquiring and nurturing Audi and then Skoda was a very astute move. Having said that, Ford has done reasonably well over the last 10 years and has certainly faired better than the likes of Renault and Honda. The Focus is a lot more competitive than 1990s Escorts ever were, but sectors of the market in which Ford has been traditionally strong, e.g. large mid-priced family cars, have shrunk.

Both the Focus and Mondeo are due for replacement in next few months, so sales of the current run-out models will inevitably dip until their replacements are in the showrooms. Most buyers who are in the market for a new Focus will wait for the new model or choose an alternative if they cannot wait that long, and by September the Golf will be behind again. A perfectly valid point and the same pattern applies to all models from all manufacturers.

I would like to point out that I have never owned a Ford and it is 18 years since I owned a VW.

The Escort has nothing to do with it. No one really thought much of them at the time and the Focus was always far better. Escorts were also built in Germany and from the Mk3 onwards much of the design and development work was done there. Even the chief designer and product planner were German!

VW Group does well because it has a wide portfolio of brands and therefore benefitted from rapid growth in the premium (Audi) and budget (Skoda) sectors of the market. Ford is basically mainstream mid-market so does not have comparable flexibility.

Also, VW are the masters of branding, advertising and marketing. There is not a manufacturer out there that could not learn a lesson or two from them.

Does a COTY award necessarily make a car a good buy? Would you want a Citroen XM, Fiat Bravo/Brava or Peugeot 307? No, neither would I. All these have won COTY awards and whilst they have their merits, I can think of many non-COTY cars which were better.

So what do you drive?

Seriously? In 2013 the Focus was the best selling car globally and the Fiesta was in 8th place. The Jetta was the best selling VW in 3rd place, the Golf was 7th and the Polo was 10th. The idea that Ford is only popular in the UK is, frankly, laughable.

VW Group also sell large numbers of cars at big discounts to fleet operators. Why wouldn't they? Every other A3 on the road is a lease or fleet car and everyone from Green Flag to takeaway chains is using them. Very classy!

Why? What do you drive?

Curious to know what part of the VAG Group of companies Old Fred Works for, seems very pro VAG (and to be fair we get enough biased reporting on this site without VAG employees hijacking all the comments threads), just to prove the point could you please carry out a direct comparison of like for like i.e Ford sales vs VW Sales (only VW not the whole VAG Group!) and to balance your argument please could you also compare for us the sales of Ford Transit Vs VW Transporter, please feel free to just look at Custom (excluding 75% of the Transit range if the figures don't prove your Ford Decline point (Oh sorry that won't work out for you either). To sumarise, I think VW are one of the most over rated brands in the UK (look at the independant engine failure rates), you on the other hand are VW fanatic. Can we not just agree to all get along, different people have different ideas, make your point and move on there is no need to go on about it as if you are nobody elses opinion is valid!

A VW Golf, and you?

Volvo S40. To be precise, a 2010 1.6 SE in Passion Red.

you believe to much in your dreams..

Key specs

  • Price: From £14,500 (est)
  • Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.5 sec (est)
  • Top speed: 130mph (est)
  • Economy/CO2: 50mpg/130g/km (est)
  • Equipment: Eight-inch touchscreen, multi-function steering wheel, electric windows, air-con
  • On sale: September 2014