Used Ford Focus review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Ford Focus covering the Focus Mk2 (2004-2011) and the Focus Mk3 (2011-date)

For more than a century Ford’s family cars have dominated in the UK thanks to a blend of affordability, availability and choice. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Focus.

After six generations of Escort, the Focus arrived in 1998 and instantly raised the bar for Ford. The Mk2 of 2004 pushed things even further, then the 2011 Mk3 was better again. As before, there was a wide choice of hatchbacks and estates, and six years after its arrival the third-generation Focus is one of the best used family cars you can buy.

Models covered

  • Ford Focus Mk2 (2004-2011) - The huge-selling Mk2 Ford Focus hatch still makes a great used buy.
  • • Ford Focus Mk3 (2011-date) - Third-generation family car offers a winning mix of quality, fun and value.

Ford Focus Mk3

History

The Focus Mk3 arrived in spring 2011 with 1.6 and 1.6T petrol or 1.6 TDCi and 2.0 TDCi diesel engines. The initial five-door hatch was joined within weeks by an estate, offering the same engine choices.

Initially, the clean 1.6 TDCi emitted 109g/km of CO2; by spring 2012 the ECOnetic had cut this to a mere 95g/km. Soon after, a 1.0T EcoBoost appeared in 99bhp and 123bhp forms, and at the same time, the 247bhp Focus ST went on sale.

A facelifted Focus reached showrooms in August 2014, with greater connectivity, 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines, plus revised suspension and steering. A year ago, the first 345bhp RS rolled off production lines; used examples of that car now start at £33,000.

Ford Focus Mk3 prices

Two-year-old cars will be between £9,000 and £20,000 depending on specification, while a four-year-old Focus will be in the £7,000 to £13,500 bracket.

Visit our sister site BuyaCar for the latest used Ford Focus prices and deals

Ford Focus Mk3 reviews

Ford Focus in-depth review Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium X reviewFord Focus 1.0 EcoBoost ST-Line reviewFord Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Zetec S reviewFord Focus 1.5 EcoBoost Titanium X reviewFord Focus 1.6 Zetec reviewFord Focus 1.6 EcoBoost Zetec S reviewFord Focus 2.0 TDCi Zetec S reviewFord Focus 2.0 TDCi Titanium X reviewFord Focus Zetec reviewFord Focus Zetec S reviewFord Focus Titanium reviewFord Focus ST in-depth reviewFord Focus ST Mountune reviewFord Focus ST-3 reviewFord Focus RS in-depth reviewFord Focus RS Mountune reviewFord Focus Electric reviewFord Focus long-term test review

Which one should I buy?

There are no engines to avoid as such, but the regular 1.6 offers little in the way of zest; the turbos (petrol and diesel) are all much more punchy. This includes the 1.0T, which starts at £6,000 – and there are plenty to choose from – but the 1.5T and 1.6T EcoBoost also offer a blend of economy, performance and driving enjoyment.

Trim levels are confusing. They start with Studio, then progress through Edge, Zetec, Zetec Navigator, Zetec S, Titanium/Navigator, then finish with Titanium X Navigator. All cars get ESP, air-con, electric front windows and a space-saver spare wheel. Zetecs have alloys, plus a heated screen and mirrors; Titanium adds auto lights/wipers, dual-zone climate control and a multimedia system. 

Alternatives to the Ford Focus Mk3

Our current favourite used small family hatchback is the SEAT Leon Mk3, with its smart, roomy interior, excellent practicality, sharp looks and generous equipment levels. It’s also affordable and great to drive.

The Mazda 3 is stylish and well built, dynamically excellent and generously equipped as standard. Other key alternatives include the Toyota Auris and Honda Civic, which major on reliability but tend to be priced higher than the Ford.

The Hyundai i30 is one of the best all-rounders out there. You could also take a look at its close relative, the Kia Cee’d. The Volkswagen Golf is the small family hatchback with everything, but you’ll have to dig deeper than if you were to buy an equivalent Focus.

What to look for:

Coolant

Certain engines can use coolant – and potentially a lot of it. This is usually because of a leaking thermostat housing, which is easily replaced.

Space-saver

Some cars have a space-saver spare wheel, while others come with a compressor with sealant. You can buy a full-sized spare though.

Wheels

Larger, 18-inch wheels aren’t unusual and they look great. They don’t seem to harm the ride, but do increase the road noise noticeably.

Stop/start

Some Focuses have stop/start, which some owners find works erratically or not at all. This is usually down to the car’s battery being on its way out.

Interior

A superb driving position and well stocked dash make long-distance drives a breeze – for those in the front. Space in the back could be better; headroom is fine, but legroom is tight. Boot space isn’t great, either. There are 316 litres with the rear seats up, or 1,101 litres when they’re folded.

Running costs

All Mk3s must be serviced every 12 months or 12,500 miles. The 1.6 Ti-VCT FFV needs new oil every 6,250 miles, and PowerShift boxes require a change of fluid and microfilter every three years or third service, at £250.

There are minor, intermediate and major services; pricing varies depending on engine. Expect to pay £150-£170, £205-£225 or £260-£290 for each of these. Cars over four years old get a Motorcraft service, with a simple minor or major schedule priced at £125 or £195.

All engines have a timing belt that has to be replaced every eight to 10 years or 100,000-150,500 miles. You will pay £340, or £450 with a new water pump, too.

Recalls

The Focus Mk2 was the subject of a worrying 17 recalls, generally because of potentially major problems, which started within months of the model’s introduction. These included fuel leaks, failed fans, brake servo issues and hub-retaining bolts working their way loose, plus the risk of fire due to short circuits or leaky power-steering.

But the Mk3 has yet to be recalled. With the earliest cars soon to celebrate their sixth birthday, it would seem that development has been much more thorough this time. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The Focus Mk3 fell from 65th place in our Driver Power 2015 satisfaction survey to 102nd in 2016. Its best score last year was for handling (38th), although owners rated in-car tech and ride quality highly, too, at 65th and 68th respectively. Build quality and seat comfort were criticised, though; it scored 129th and 125th here. 

Verdict

Small family hatches are the biggest-selling cars across Europe, so the Focus is up against some very stiff competition. And while the more expensive VW Golf is our favourite new car in this sector, it doesn’t offer the value that the Focus does on the used market, and it’s also not as much fun to drive.

Indeed, as an all-rounder the Ford is pretty hard to beat, which is why it was commended in our 2016 Used Car Awards, trailing only the Leon.

The Focus took gold the previous year, though, because of its fabulous mix of quality, comfort and handling – not to mention some very keen used prices.

Click through to page two for our full buyer's guide on the Ford Focus Mk2 sold from 2004 to 2011...

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