Ford Focus review

Ford has updated the Focus with fresh styling and technology, and the result is as good as ever.

Pros: great new touchscreen, impressive handling, efficient engines

Cons: no hybrid option, lumpy ride in Active models, minor aesthetic upgrade

The arrival of a new Ford Focus is always a big news story in motoring, but this time around the popular family hatchback has only received minor updates. A new front end and some fresh tech is about as far as the revamp goes, but is that enough to ensure the Focus remains a firm favourite?

Ford Focus Design

Externally, the Focus’ upgrades are limited. The most obvious change is the new front grille, which sees the Ford logo move down from the end of the bonnet to the car’s nose, and the new headlights, which now use LED bulbs as standard. There are more minor changes at the rear, and there are new bumpers all around, but the overall silhouette is much the same as before.

Of course, some of the Focus’ styling features will depend on which model you choose. As with its predecessor, the new car is offered in a choice of estate and hatchback forms, and there’s a choice of luxury-orientated Titanium models, off-road-inspired Active versions and sportier ST-Line options. There’s also a high-performance ST version with lots of motorsport-derived styling and mechanical upgrades.

Ford Focus Interior

While Ford may not have made too many changes to the Focus’ exterior design, the interior has been upgraded – primarily with a huge new touchscreen. It uses the same Sync4 system as the electric Mustang Mach-E, which means it’s clear and very easy to use on the move. High-end Focuses also complement that screen with a digital instrument display, which is equally sharp and easy to navigate.

The inclusion of the new touchscreen has also allowed Ford to remove the climate control switchgear, shifting all those features to the screen. That means the dashboard is less cluttered, but it also means the useful heating controls are slightly harder to access. Fortunately, the Sync4 system is good enough to ensure that isn’t too much of a hardship.

As with the old Focus, the new car’s cabin quality is a bit of a mixed bag. The overall quality and solidity of the construction is beyond doubt – everything fits together nicely, and the switchgear feels substantial – but there are one or two hard plastics in surprisingly noticeable areas, and that means the Focus doesn’t feel quite as luxurious as some of its rivals.

On paper, the standard hatchback’s 375-litre luggage space is a tad small compared with the VW Golf and Peugeot 308, but it isn’t a drastic reduction. And it’s slightly bigger than the space you’ll find in the back of a Toyota Corolla.

Ford Focus Performance & Drive

While Ford has been busy with the inside and outside of the Focus, it hasn’t done much under the skin. The engine range is much the same, with a selection of 1.0-litre petrol engines joined by a 1.5-litre diesel and the 2.3-litre petrol unit that’s exclusive to the ST. Every model, including the Active, comes with front-wheel drive, but there’s a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes.

The diesel engine is the least potent option, with 120hp, but it’s the most economical, using 4.6 litres of fuel every 100km. That said, the 1.0-litre petrol engines are more powerful – outputs range from 125hp to 155hp – and only a little thirstier, with all using less than six litres of unleaded every 100km on the official economy test.

Performance is not especially lively, but although the engines sound small they offer adequate pace and there’s always the ST version for thrill seekers. But although the mainstays of the Focus range may not be fast, they still have the impressive handling characteristics that have help made the Focus such a hit. The car turns into corners keenly and provides rapid response to driver inputs. Of all the family hatchbacks on the market, it’s one of the most enjoyable to drive. But it isn’t the most comfortable. It doesn’t ride too badly, even in jacked-up Active form, but it does feel a little unsettled at times.

Ford Focus Pricing

The new Focus starts at €26,424, which buys you the basic Trend model with its steel wheels, manual air conditioning and eight-inch touchscreen. That makes it considerably cheaper than the entry-level Volkswagen Golf and the Toyota Corolla.

Carzone Verdict: 4/5

The Focus is still among the best family hatchbacks on the market, mixing impressive handling with fresh technology and more up-to-date styling than before. It’s also very fuel-efficient and competitively priced, putting it firmly up there among the class leaders.

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