In 2014, Ford facelifted its third-generation Focus, which had launched in early 2011. This was a comprehensive alteration of the looks: while the pre-facelift model had a three-aperture lower front bumper and a narrow radiator grille above, framed by large headlight clusters, the facelifted car (often known as the Mk3.5, so comprehensive was the update) had one trapezoidal radiator grille, sleek lamps and a wholly re-sculpted front airdam. As ever, the Focus was available as a five-door hatchback, a four-door saloon and a five-door estate.
There was a normally aspirated Ti-VCT 1.6-litre petrol engine in the Focus Mk3.5 line-up but, in the main, the petrol and diesel engines are all turbocharged and are all largely excellent, too. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol is a real gem, offering up to 140hp, but the 1.5-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder (which replaced the old 1.6-litre EcoBoost four) is a brilliant all-rounder, offering good power without breaking the bank to run. Over on the diesel side, the 1.6 TDCi Duratorq four-cylinder engine was replaced by the 1.5-litre TDCi Duratorq, but the two actually ran side-by-side between the introduction of the 1.5 in 2014 and the final phasing out of the 1.6 in 2016. A large 2.0-litre TDCi Duratorq was offered with either 150- or 185hp, the latter derivative being the one found in the engine of the performance ST TDCi model (available as a hatch or estate). Focus Mk3.5 buyers could also opt for an ST with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine rated at 252hp, while – in 2016 – the ultimate Focus Mk3 arrived: the monster RS, employing a 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine (also used in the Mustang in a lower state of tune), which delivered 350hp to all four wheels.
Any version of the RS could be an investment piece, as they typically appreciate in value, but the high-performance Focus Mk3.5 is really expensive to buy and run, so it’s not an ideal second-hand purchase for everyday needs. The sweet spot is therefore that 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol if you can find one; go for an estate for maximum practicality, although the hatchback is a fine car too.
Ford Focus 1.5T EcoBoost Titanium X Hatchback
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Maximum speed: 222km/h
0-100km/h: 8.6 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.9 litres/100km
• Sharp chassis
• Much improved looks with facelift
• Strong turbocharged engines
• Lacklustre infotainment
• 1.0-litre models fun but not very frugal
• Saloon looks ungainly
The Ford Focus has always been there or thereabouts, challenging for C-segment class honours, ever since it first launched way back in 1998 – and while the Mk3 was a good car from the off in 2011, the 2014 facelift really improved the formula. Loads of good choice on the second-hand market makes this a really impressive used buy.