Ford Focus review – everyday hero back to its best
It may not be quite as sharp as its predecessor, but Ford filled in the gaps making for an impressive family hatchback
The Ford Focus has been a consistent entity for over 20 years for good reason. Circumnavigating crossover fads and changes to perceived customer interest, the Focus’s combination of a sophisticated driving experience, no nonsense demeanor and affordable price point appeal as much now as they did in 1997.
The current fourth generation Focus was initially launched in 2018, and while it might look the same there have been all sorts of changes under the skin to keep it competitive against renewed rivals like the new Golf 8 and SEAT Leon. The new powertrains will also have a better handle on new emissions laws that are tightening their grip across the industry.
Those changes begin under the bonnet, with Ford introducing a mild-hybrid system across most petrol models, and consolidating its diesel and non-hybridised engine range to reduce the range’s average CO2 rating.
Being a core model on the UK sales chart Ford has also done an extensive job in diversifying the Focus, now having a whole family of models made up from ST-Line, rugged Active X, posh Vignale and ST model to creating one of the most varied ranges on sale.
Ford Focus: in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical highlights > Alongside the all-new chassis is a new engine range with mild-hybrid petrols and diesel options
- Performance and 0-62mph time > Petrol models are adequately brisk for the class, but hardly earth-moving
- Ride and handling > Extremely competent, entertaining even, the Focus’s driving experience doesn’t disappoint
- MPG and running costs > High MPG and low running costs mean the Focus is still a strong value proposition
- Interior and tech > The last Focus’s interior was a major low point, but the new cabin is smart and functional, if not exactly glamorous
- Design > The Focus has gone through a big step change in design, trading the previous model’s messy mono-box design for a more in-vogue two-box silhouette
Prices, specs and rivals:
It comes as no surprise that one of the UK’s highest-selling models is available in a vast variety of engines and specs. It can all be a little bewildering, in fact, but what you need to know is that the Focus generally sits in the middle of the pack in regards to price. Like the previous model, the new Focus is only available in five-door hatch and estate form in the UK.
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Prices start at £22,210, a rise of nearly £4000 compared to when the current Focus launched, but so too has Ford removed a vast majority of the low-level trim levels and engines. Now, Focus models start at the Zetec level with a 120bhp turbocharged three-cylinder engine in contrast to the 84bhp base car that came before.
From here the range splits into a few branches, with Titanium and ST-Line available in base and higher-specification X forms for between £23,610 and £26,460. At the top of the ‘standard’ range is the Vignale, which does its best impression of luxury motoring for the masses starting at £28,010. Active X models differ again with (supposedly) rugged styling elements and start at £24,060, but can be upgraded to its own Vignale spec which adopts many of the posh trim elements from the aforementioned luxury flagship.
Compared to its rivals, spec for spec the Ford is more expensive than an equivalent Vauxhall Astra, Hyundai i30 or Kia Ceed by a few hundred pounds, sits just underneath the Honda Civic and Peugeot 308, but is substantially less expensive than the new Volkswagen Golf. Using a 148bhp Focus ST-Line model as an example, an equivalent Golf R-Line is a hefty £3500 more expensive.