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 was a game changer when it hit the market at the end of the 1990s, offering a blend of style, practicality and driving characteristics that were a step-change from the often porridgy hatchbacks around at the time.
There have been four generations of Focus now, and twenty years on it’s still one of the best family all-rounders that money can buy.
The success of the Focus is reflected in its name. Ford’s engineering and marketing departments have stuck rigidly to the blend of characteristics that underpinned the original model’s appeal. As such, the latest Focus is as entertaining and pleasurable to drive as it is practical and affordable to own.
The current line-up is offered in a trio of body styles that includes the established five-door hatch and estate models. They’re joined by the Active variant that seeks to cash in on the ‘crossover SUV’ craze, and features a slightly raised ride height and extended wheel arches.
While the first Focus had some very well-established rivals to unseat, including cars such as the Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf and Honda Civic, the breadth of competition is much wider today. The list of desirable contenders vying your cash now includes European rivals like the Renault Megane, Peugeot 308, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, as well as impressive challengers from East Asia like the Mazda 3, Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30. You’ll probably also want to take a look at some ostensibly more premium rivals, including the Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 Sportback.
The Mk4 Ford Focus certainly has the image to mix it with those more upmarket brands. The new design brought with it significant improvements in cabin space and practicality, but it has arresting looks too. From a style point of view it blends the previous model with cues from the Fiesta, and with a windscreen and cabin set well back it has a similar outline to the Mercedes A-Class.
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.
All Focus models are front-wheel-drive, and 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.
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 under £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 technologyThe Focus's interior quality is very good, while the SYNC 3 infotainment system is slick and easy to use.
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThere's plenty of space in the Ford Focus cabin - and the boot should be just about big enough to cope with family life.
- 6Reliability and safetyThe Ford Focus gets top marks for safety and should prove to be a reliable family car.