Ford Focus review
The Ford Focus is a great-handling family hatchback that matches is rivals on interior quality and cabin space.
The Ford Focus is one of the mainstays of the British car market, and it’s easy to see why. The well-judged chassis delivers a composed, comfortable and enjoyable drive on UK roads, with excellent body control and responsive steering. The engines – particularly the 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125PS version – are punchy enough but also refined. And the latest Mk4 Focus has better cabin space than its predecessors, plus quality that’s pretty much a match for the best in class. Keen pricing and finance offers seal the deal; the latest Focus should be on the shortlist of any buyer looking for a new hatchback.
About the Ford Focus
The Ford Focus is the car that shook up the family car market when it first arrived in 1998; its combination of dashing looks, flexible packaging and genuinely engaging handling was unprecedented. Twenty years and four generations later, the Focus can still be found at the top of its game.
The latest car is intended as a practical, competitively priced family hatchback in the traditional mold, with as much attention given to driver enjoyment and ride quality as to interior space and practicality. A good range of petrol and diesel engines compliments a model lineup that includes a hatchback, estate and toughened-up Active crossover.
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As well as taking on long-established rivals such as the VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic, the Focus has to challenge cars that have raised their game, such as the Renault Megane, Peugeot 308 and SEAT Leon. Then there's the spacious Skoda Octavia, plus the Mazda 3, Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30, while upmarket models such as the Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 Sportback are all on Ford's radar, too.
The big changes for the Focus Mk4 are improvements in cabin space and efficiency. The overall look of the latest Focus blends parts of the outgoing car with design elements from the smaller Fiesta. The cab is set back and quite low - it's similar in silhouette to the latest Mercedes A-Class, but has all of Ford's current design cues on display.
There's a longer wheelbase, which improves space inside, while the cabin has been overhauled to create more room, too. The current Focus has a far bigger boot than the previous generation as a result, while an electric parking brake and revised cockpit means the front seats feel spacious, and the rear has decent legroom, too. As always, the Focus comes as either a five-door hatchback or a more practical estate.
Petrol power for the core range comes from the 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, available either in standard 123bhp form, or versions with 48v mild-hybrid technology producing 123bhp and 153bhp. The lower-powered cars use either a six-speed manual, or eight-speed auto transmission, while the 153bhp versions are offered solely with the manual 'box. The sporty 2.3-litre ST model delivers its 280bhp via a six-speed manual or seven-speed auto gearbox.
The 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesels, produce 118bhp and 148bhp, respectively, and all are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. An eight-speed auto is offered as an option. The diesel ST model puts out 187bhp and comes with the six-speed manual.
All Focus models are front-wheel drive. In the future, a 48-volt 'mild hybrid' Focus will appear, although currently there are no plans to replace the previous generation Focus Electric.
The Focus range was revised in late 2019; entry Style trim was ditched, with Zetec kicking things off instead. ST-Line, ST-Line X, Titanium, Titanium X and Vignale make up the rest of the standard range, while the off-road-inspired Active, Active X and Active X Vignale round things off. A sporty ST model is also available, although there’s no full-fat RS.
Zetec now forms the entry point to the range, with prices starting at just over £22,000. Standard kit includes Ford’s eight-inch SYNC infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity, plus 16-inch alloys, and automatic headlights. Also included is a Quickclear heated windscreen, as well as cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-keep alert.
For sporty ST-Line models, there are 17-inch alloy wheels plus sportier front and rear bumpers, a keyless start button, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and alloy pedals. The step up to ST-Line X adds larger 18-inch wheels, automatic wipers and dimming rear-view mirror, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, dual-zone climate control and the upgraded SYNC 3 system with voice control.
Titanium is aimed at those who want loads of kit, but without the sharper edge of the ST-Line cars. As such, it includes many of the ST-Line X’s features, such as the rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors, but it stays on 16-inch alloys. It also gets keyless entry and start, plus LED rear lights. Titanium X moves the wheel size up to 17 inches and brings the electric adjustment on the driver’s seat, plus rear privacy glass.
The range-topping Vignale features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, full leather seat trim and a B&O stereo set-up that also brings active noise cancellation. The Focus Vignale will offer the same ‘special Ford relationship’ as the other models with that trim level (like the Mondeo and S-MAX Vignales), including a free wash for the your car when you’re able to pop into the dealer.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Ford Focus is a great-handling family hatchback that matches is rivals on interior quality and cabin space.
- 2Engines, performance and driveIn either of its two suspension configurations, the Focus is more fun than a family car has any right to be.
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsThe Focus has great fuel economy, is reasonable to insure and doesn't fare too badly come resale time.
- 4Interior, design and technologyConservative design belies a considerable amount of tech, including the slick SYNC 3 infotainment system
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spacePlenty of space in the cabin for a family with fast-growing children - and the boot should be just about big enough to cope with their luggage too.
- 6Reliability and safetyThe Focus gets top marks for safety and should prove to be a reliable family car.