New Ford Focus unveiled with 2021 facelift and tech updates

Ford has given the Focus hatchback a refresh for 2021, with a new design and an improved infotainment suite

The current Ford Focus has been on sale since 2018 and since then, a wave of fresh rivals has been released, including the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308 and SEAT Leon. To fend off the newcomers, Ford is updating the Focus with a new look, updated interior tech and trim revisions.

The new Focus starts from £22,465, with a revised trim line-up that begins with the entry-level Trend variant. This is followed by Titanium, with the sporty ST-Line model heading the range alongside the toughened-up Focus Active.

The re-structured range does away with the luxurious Focus Vignale - instead, Vignale now refers to a trim package that can be specified with Titanium, Active and ST-Line cars, bringing additional equipment and bespoke design touches inside and out. 

New Focus design changes

At the front, the Focus adopts Ford’s new family face, as already previewed by the recently unveiled, facelifted Fiesta. The blue oval badge is now housed within a larger, more rounded front grille, as opposed to above it. The grille itself receives a chrome surround and horizontal bars, and the nose of the car has been raised for added road presence.

This new grille sits between with a pair of slimmer, more aggressive headlight clusters, which feature a new running light signature. Full LED headlights are standard, along with automatic high-beam control and Ford’s Maneuvering Light system, which improves visibility while parking, for example. Optional Dynamic Pixel LED headlights bring additional features, such as a glare-free high beam that alters the light pattern to avoid blinding oncoming cars.

Elsewhere, the lower front bumper has also been resculpted with a new side-vent arrangement, and at the rear, the optional upgraded LED tail lights gain a darker finish, with a new running light design. Sporty ST-Line models receive a gloss black honeycomb mesh grille, along with a lower bumper with satin silver inserts. Extended side skirts, a rear spoiler and a black diffuser also feature.

Focus Active, Estate and Vignale updates

The off-road inspired Focus Active gets rugged design cues such as protective plastic body cladding and a raised ride height, along with vertical grille bars and a restyled lower front bumper.

The luxurious Vignale package adds new interior trims and satin-finished upper grille bars and side vents. Exclusive alloy wheel designs are also available with Vignale models, with the Focus receiving five new wheel designs across the line-up.

There have also been revisions to the Focus estate, aimed at improving practicality. The boot area is now trimmed in a more premium, easy-to-clean carpet, and an additional side net has been added to store smaller items. LED lights have also been installed for better load-space illumination.

A central hinge in the boot floor can be used to create a vertical divider, too, and there’s now a ‘wet zone’ in the load space with a water-resistant liner - useful for carrying umbrellas and raincoats, for example. The lining is also removable to allow easy draining and cleaning, and the ‘wet zone’ can be separated from the rest of the boot area using the divider. 

Engines and economy

The new Focus retains the engine line-up of the previous model, with a range of petrol, diesel and mild-hybrid options. Kicking off the range is a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit that produces 99bhp, and drives through a six-speed manual gearbox. This engine is also available in 123bhp guise, and achieves 47.1mpg and 121g/km of CO2 with both power outputs. 

The sole diesel option is a 1.5-litre EcoBlue motor producing 118bhp, delivering a claimed 56.5mpg and 120g/km of CO2 on the WLTP cycle. The diesel-powered Focus is exclusively available with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. 

Ford continues to offer a 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain with the Focus, in the form of a 1.0-litre EcoBoost Hybrid petrol unit. This pairs the combustion engine with an electrical starter/generator, which allows energy to be stored when decelerating. The starter/generator can then act as a motor to assist the petrol engine, for increased torque and improved efficiency. 

The mild-hybrid setup is available with 123bhp or 153bhp power outputs, and both achieve 51.4mpg and 116g/km of CO2 when specified with a six-speed manual gearbox. 

For the facelifted Focus, Ford is offering the mild-hybrid powertrain with a seven-speed Powershift automatic transmission option for the first time. This allows the car’s start-stop system to operate below 7mph to optimize efficiency, although WLTP figures of 47.9mpg and 119g/km are slightly worse than manual-equipped cars.

The driver can choose from Normal, Sport and Eco modes to alter throttle response, steering feel and automatic gearbox calibration of the new Focus, with Active variants gaining Slippery and Trail settings for improved all-terrain ability. 

SYNC 4 infotainment system

The updated Focus can be specified with Ford’s latest infotainment suite, called SYNC 4. The system is operated via a new 13.2-inch central touchscreen, which features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The climate functions are now embedded within the touchscreen, with the physical controls of the current car being removed for a cleaner dashboard design. 

Advanced speech recognition allows the driver to operate media functions, navigation and climate settings through voice control if preferred, and the car’s internet integration allows weather information to be relayed to those on board. The FordPass smartphone app also allows the user to connect to their car remotely to check fuel levels and oil life, for example. An alert system will notify the user of any attempt to enter the vehicle, too.

Buyers who specify SYNC 4 benefit from a trial subscription to Ford’s Connected Navigation, which includes live traffic and weather updates, and the new Focus is also compatible with the brand’s Power-Up system. This enables improved vehicle features over time through software updates, which can be carried out in the background or during scheduled periods with little or no user intervention.


In addition to the outgoing car’s array of driver assistance systems, the refreshed Focus gains Blind Spot Assist, which can apply counter-steering to avoid hitting another vehicle when changing lanes. The system operates from 40mph to 124mph, and scans other vehicles from up to 28 metres away. The car’s blind-spot monitoring can also operate when towing a trailer, once the driver has specified its length and width in the infotainment system.

Also new is Intersection Assist, which uses the Focus’s forward-facing camera and radar to detect oncoming vehicles in parallel lanes. At up to 18mph, the car will automatically apply the brakes if moving into the path of an oncoming vehicle at a junction, for instance. Intersection Assist can also function where there are no road markings, and at night - provided the headlights are switched on.

Active emergency braking, speed sign recognition and adaptive cruise control with ‘stop and go’ functionality also feature, alongside lane-centring assist and a Local Hazard Information system. This warns the driver of road obstacles and hazards, even if they aren’t visible. Fully automated parking manoeuvres are possible, too, with Ford’s Active Park Assist 2 taking control of steering, braking, acceleration and gear selection. The facelifted Focus also receives Rear Occupant Alert, which alerts the driver to check the rear seats for children or pets at the end of a journey, if the rear doors have been opened.

Focus ST

The Focus ST hot-hatch has also been refreshed as part of the facelift. The front-end design is shared with the ST-Line model, but the fully-fledged ST receives a satin grey finish for the lower vent inserts and honeycomb grille mesh. The redesigned alloy wheels are painted in a similar hue, with 18-inch items as standard and larger 19-inch wheels available as an option. A set of revised tail lights, and a new ‘Mean Green’ paint colour, complete the exterior makeover.

Inside, the Focus ST ditches the Recaro seats of the outgoing car, replacing them with in-house 14-way adjustable Ford Performance seats. Under the bonnet, the same 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine remains, delivering 276bhp and 420Nm of torque. This is mated to either a six-speed manual or a torque converter automatic gearbox, controlled by paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel. Power is put to the tarmac through an electronic limited-slip differential. 

The new Focus ST is priced from £33,885 and is available to order now, along with the rest of the range. First deliveries are scheduled for early 2022. 

What does the updated Ford Focus have to beat? These are the best hatchbacks on sale right now...


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