In-depth reviews

Ford Focus review

The Ford Focus is a great-handling family hatchback that matches is rivals on interior quality and cabin space.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Price
£20,435 to £33,760
  • Agile and involving chassis
  • Comfortable ride quality
  • Efficient engine range
  • Hesitant auto gearbox
  • Uninspiring cabin
  • Screen on base models

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.

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.

For an alternative review of the latest Ford Focus Hatchback visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 EcoBoost 125 Vignale Edition 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £0

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 EcoBlue 120 Active Edition 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £23,915

Fastest

  • Name
    2.3 EcoBoost ST 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £32,310

More on Focus

Ford Focus Estate review
Ford Focus Estate Vignale - front
Ford Focus Estate
18 Sep 2020

Ford Focus Estate review

The estate option adds another dimension to the fun-driving and family-friendly Ford Focus line-up
Ford Focus ST Mountune m330 review
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
28 Aug 2020

Ford Focus ST Mountune m330 review

The easy-fit Mountune upgrade boosts the Ford Focus ST hatchback to 326bhp and a huge 515Nm and offers great value.
SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus
Family hatchbacks
11 Jul 2020

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus

The Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon are all long established hatchbacks - we find out which is best among the latest crop
New Ford Focus Ecoboost Hybrid engines arrive with Zetec Edition trim level
Ford Focus
22 Jun 2020

New Ford Focus Ecoboost Hybrid engines arrive with Zetec Edition trim level

Two new mild-hybrid engine options arrive on Ford’s Focus hatch priced from £23,610, there's new interior tech and a minor equipment boost, too
Ford Focus ST Estate: long-term test review
Ford Focus ST Estate
11 May 2020

Ford Focus ST Estate: long-term test review

Third report: our rapid load-lugging Ford Focus ST Estate meets a Transit with a difference
Best hot hatchbacks 2020
Hot hatches
7 May 2020

Best hot hatchbacks 2020

The best hot hatches offer giant-killing performance and a gripping drive, all wrapped in a user-friendly package
Ford Focus ST review
Ford Focus ST - front tracking
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
28 Apr 2020

Ford Focus ST review

The new Focus ST isn’t the most powerful or the cheapest on the market, but it’s still a great hot hatch.
New Ford Focus Vignale Active X trim level revealed
Ford Focus Active X Vignale
Ford Focus
6 Dec 2019

New Ford Focus Vignale Active X trim level revealed

New Ford Focus Vignale Active X aims to bring luxury feel to rugged off-road Focus
Kia XCeed vs Ford Focus Active
Kia XCeed vs Ford Focus Active
Kia XCeed
19 Oct 2019

Kia XCeed vs Ford Focus Active

Can the new Kia XCeed encroach on the Ford Focus Active's hatch-based territory?
Long-term review: Ford Focus Titanium X
Ford Focus Hatchback
16 Oct 2019

Long-term review: Ford Focus Titanium X

Final report: Fun-driving Ford Focus proves a great car for everyday life
Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus vs SEAT Leon
Vauxhall Astra triple test
Vauxhall Astra
12 Oct 2019

Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus vs SEAT Leon

The Vauxhall Astra has beaten the Ford Focus and SEAT Leon before, can it do it again?
Ford Focus RS (2016-2018) review
Ford Focus RS 2016 - cornering
Ford Focus RS hatchback
16 Sep 2019

Ford Focus RS (2016-2018) review

Wild looks, rocketship speed and sharp handling put the Ford Focus RS at the top of the hot hatchback tree
Ford Focus ST vs Hyundai i30 N vs Honda Civic Type R
Ford Focus ST group test
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
16 Sep 2019

Ford Focus ST vs Hyundai i30 N vs Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R is our reigning champion and the Hyundai i30 N has proved a good first attempt, but can the new Focus ST muscle in?
New Ford Focus ST 2019 review
Ford Focus ST - front tracking
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
27 Aug 2019

New Ford Focus ST 2019 review

We sample the new Ford Focus ST petrol hot hatch in the UK for the first time – is it a Honda Civic Type R beater?
New Ford Focus ST Estate 2019 review
Ford Focus ST Estate - front
Ford Focus ST Estate
26 Aug 2019

New Ford Focus ST Estate 2019 review

The new Ford Focus ST Estate offers all the thrills of the standard hot hatch, but in a more practical package
Skoda Scala vs Ford Focus vs Honda Civic
Skoda Scala vs Honda Civic vs Ford Focus - main
Skoda Scala
24 Aug 2019

Skoda Scala vs Ford Focus vs Honda Civic

We test the brand new Skoda Scala against hatchback royalty - the Ford Focus and Honda Civic
New Ford Focus RS Mountune boasts 513bhp
Ford Focus RS Mountune
Ford Focus RS hatchback
19 Aug 2019

New Ford Focus RS Mountune boasts 513bhp

British tuner Mountune has launched a pair of performance packages for the Mk3 Ford Focus RS, with the more potent M520 boasting 513bhp
Ford Focus - best family cars
Ford Focus
Ford Focus
6 Aug 2019

Ford Focus - best family cars

It’s easy to see why the Ford Focus remains so popular with its agile handling and spacious cabin
New Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost review
Ford Focus - front
Ford Focus Hatchback
30 Jul 2019

New Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost review

We drive the all-new Ford Focus on British roads to see if the family car is back to its best
Mazda 3 vs Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf
Mazda 3 vs Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf - header
Mazda 3
22 Jun 2019

Mazda 3 vs Ford Focus vs Volkswagen Golf

The new Mazda 3 aims to muscle in on the UK’s best-selling family hatchbacks, the VW Golf and Ford Focus. We put it to the test
Ford Focus is the UK's most frequently stolen car
Ford Focus
24 May 2019

Ford Focus is the UK's most frequently stolen car

The Ford Focus proved to be the most stolen car in 2018, while Staffordshire had the street with the highest number of thefts
New 2019 Ford Focus ST: prices and specs announced
Ford Focus ST - front
Ford Focus ST Hatchback
23 May 2019

New 2019 Ford Focus ST: prices and specs announced

Ford has quietly released prices and specs for the new Focus ST ahead of its launch this summer, with the base model starting from £29,495
New Ford Focus ST Estate joins hatch in line-up
Ford Focus ST Estate - front
Ford Focus ST Estate
16 May 2019

New Ford Focus ST Estate joins hatch in line-up

The new Ford Focus ST Estate arrives with petrol and diesel choices, generating 276bhp and 187bhp respectively