Ford Focus Hatchback review (2004-2011)
The Ford is still very competent, with revisions giving it a more upmarket feel.
Driving The Focus is straightforward to drive, thanks to its positive controls, while on the open road a snappy gearshift and surefooted dynamics mean it feels solid. Body control is excellent and it remains stable, even when pushed hard. The ride quality is equally impressive, with the suspension gliding over rough surfaces – although the set-up is firmer than some rivals, it’s not easily unsettled by imperfections. Engines are carried over and it’s the diesels that impress most. The 1.6 TDCi is smooth and has a broad spread of pull, while the 2.0 TDCi is punchy and now available with an optional auto – though interestingly, the power band feels narrower. 1.6 and 1.8 petrol engines are fine, while the 1.4 struggles and the 2.0 seems a bit pointless.
Marketplace The Focus is a crucial model for Ford – so, in late 2007, it received a mid-life nip and tick. This was to help regain its position as the best compact hatchback in the sector. With style high on most buyers’ agendas, it’s the looks that received the most attention – every panel apart from the roof was replaced, to introduce the firm’s ‘kinetic’ design first seen on the S-Max. Ford simplified the trim line-up, to Style, Studio, Zetec and Titanium – ditched were old-fashioned LX and Ghia tags. Ford admirably now fits ESP as standard on all versions. There remain three and five-door bodystyles, plus estate and saloon versions, and rivals include the Vauxhall Astra, Honda Civic, Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308 – as well as ‘crossovers’ such as the Nissan Qashqai, and emerging value-led rivals like the Kia Cee’d.
Owning The revised Focus benefited from a significantly updated and more sophisticated-feeling cabin. The quality of the materials has certainly improved, but the design is still conventional and looks a little dated. However, there’s little wrong with the driving position or the layout of the controls. It’s an easy car to get on with, while the finish is high. Passenger space is decent, but when it comes to practicality, the Focus is somewhat limited. The rear seat system lacks flexibility – the backs simply flip down – and there’s isn’t as much storage space, either. Ford has a vast dealer network and servicing costs are inexpensive too, while it’s economical, especially the diesels – and the ‘easy fuel’ system guarantees you’ll never put the wrong fuel in the tank. Retained values are only average though, reflecting the car’s mass-market status.