Ford Focus Review
- Model spec: ST-Line X Diesel, 8-Spd Auto
- Price: £100000
- Engine: 1.5-Litre Turbo Diesel
- Max Speed: 120
- 0-60: 10.2 seconds
- BHP/Torque: 120 / 300
- Economy: 64mpg combined
- C02: 115g/km
- Tax: 205/year
The most sold car in Britain this year to date? That’s the Ford Fiesta, year after year. But the second most popular is another option by Ford, the Focus family hatchback. With almost 7,000 of them registered this year, I took to the roads in the latest and greatest Focus. Now in its twentieth year of production, you’d expect Ford to have refined its family hatch and brewed a formula of perfection.
Most drivers, however, spend the majority of their time on the road alone, so it’s the front seats that are most important. Rivals like the Golf are clean and simple, but lean towards the boring side a bit, but that’s not the case with the Focus. The light and airy cabin takes Ford in a new direction with premium switchgear, high definition displays and improved connectivity with the new SYNC 3 infotainment system. It’s the right mix of playful and sensible.
Traditionally, buyers have been favouring diesel engines with their cheaper running costs, which leaves just two simple options. The 1.5-litre 120 hp unit and the 150 hp 2.0-litre engine. Petrol is where the party is really happening though, the tried and tested 3-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine comes in three flavours, 85, 100 and 125 hp, and a 1.5-litre EcoBoost with 150 and a fruity 182 hp. Haters of 3-cylinder engines might be more put off by the cylinder deactivation technology which turns the engine into a 2-cylinder unit under light load, but this is no detriment to the car.
The third cylinder can re-engage in 14 milliseconds, helping it to achieve up to 60 mpg. Still, diesel’s not on its way out yet, with the 1.5-litre EcoBlue engine promising 80 mpg and sub-100 g/km CO2 emissions. At the moment there’s no Focus ST or RS, but we can expect those later down the line with the ST arriving in time for the summer with either a 2.3-litre 280 hp petrol engine or a 190 hp 2.0-litre diesel.
The 6-speed manual transmission is where most sales will be directed, but I tried the 8-speed automatic mated to the 120 hp 1.5-litre diesel. Its rotary style gear shifter and electronic parking brake make for a clean looking centre console, but the 8-speed automatic doesn’t quite achieve the same levels of performance as other manufacturers’ options. I found very little difference between 2nd and 3rd gears in manual mode having to flick up twice from 2nd, and it was rather slow to kick down. For a comfortable town and motorway rider, it’s a perfect, smooth choice, but for those looking for a more engaging drive the 6-speed manual is still a better transmission.
Entry-level Style models start at £18,300 and come with the staples – DAB radio, air conditioning and automatic lights. The lack of alloy wheels and interesting styling make it a slightly dismal option. Next up is Zetec with 16-inch alloys, the 8-inch SYNC 3 infotainment system, cruise control and heated windscreen – this is the true starting point in my opinion and kicks off at £19,650. From here, things get a bit confusing. There are three routes to take, premium, sporty or outdoorsy. Premium gives you Titanium, with Titanium X and range-topping Vignale sitting above it at £25,800. Sporty takes you in the direction of the ST-Line and ST-Line X, while outdoorsy gives you the 30mm higher Active and Active X. Both sporty and outdoorsy options set themselves apart from the regular Focus with distinctive bodykits. In terms of pricing, the Focus sits between the i30, Cee’d and Megane on the lower end and the Astra and Golf at the top end.
The previous generation Focus was frankly a bland choice aimed at people who needed a car to get from A to B, and although was solid and reliable, was very hard to recommend overall with competition so strong. This latest model, however, gives it the strength it needed to pull it back into the game, and thanks to that it’s now one of the best looking family hatchbacks available today.