Ford Focus: car review
..a sleeker look and a revised drive in a bid to make it easier and cheaper to live with.
What is it?
Ford has thoroughly revised the UK’s second best-seller. There are new engines, a sleeker look and a revised drive in a bid to make it easier and cheaper to live with.
How safe is it?
The Focus was already a five-star performer for adult occupancy safety prior to the facelift, but now Ford has added an improved stability control system with Enhanced Transitional Stability (ETS).
Who should buy one?
Anyone looking for a comprehensively practical, well made, well thought-out and comfortable car should consider the Focus, especially now it is more refined.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
In almost every measurable way, the facelifted Ford Focus is a much improved car over its predecessor, which dropped the ball in key areas such as refinement and ride comfort. Not so with this updated Focus. It rides with accomplished comfort and panache that stands comparison with any other car in this class and the best from the sector above.
Ford has strengthened the suspension mounts and now uses stronger bushes to better locate and cushion the springs and shock absorbers from the body frame. Along with new wheelarch liners and thicker glass, it makes for a car that is noticeably quieter than the one before.
The improved suspension location also means the Focus resumes its place as the most able car in its class when it comes to dispatching corners. There is little lean from the body, and what there is just the right amount to let the driver know how the car is behaving, and it grips keenly.
There is one small negative, though, and that is the steering has been recalibrated. Ford says this is to improve agility, but it has had the opposite effect and now makes the Focus feel less sporty and less fun to drive. It’s not a deal-breaker as the changes also make the Focus a much better motorway cruiser, less fidgety on bumpy cross-country lanes and easier to slot into town parking spaces.
New engines to the range include 1.5-litre petrol and diesel units. The 1.5 TDCi turbodiesel is expected to account for 45% of sales, with a further 45% taken up by the 1.0-litre three-cylinder Ecoboost petrol engine. With the choice of 94- and 118bhp, the 1.5 TDCi offers the same 98g/km carbon dioxide emissions and 74.2mpg combined economy, with help from Start-Stop technology and lower friction engine internals. With plenty of power and a smooth delivery, this is a good choice for private and company drivers alike.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Ford will sell the revised Focus in the UK as a five-door hatch or estate model only. As the revisions to the car are based on the existing platform, that means there’s no gain in load capacity in either estate or hatch, and passenger space remains the same as before. So there’s decent room for rear passengers and a 316-litre boot in the five-door hatch. That’s acceptable but not up to the best in class such as the Volkswagen Golf or Seat Leon hatchbacks, both of which have 380 litres of luggage space with the rear seats upright.
The driver benefits from a de-cluttered dash that is simpler to navigate and use, while Ford’s latest Sync2 voice control allows easier commands to operate a variety of functions. A height adjustable driver’s seat is standard in all models and the steering adjusts for reach and rake. There is also now more storage around the centre console for smaller items.
Every updated Ford Focus comes with six airbags as standard, along with ISOFIX child seat mounts. There is also now Ford’s Enhanced Transitional Stability programme that predicts an emergency situation from the steering and throttle inputs and prompts the stability control to react accordingly. This means less risk of sliding during an emergency avoidance manoeuvre. Further helping urban drivers is a parking system that will not only get the car into a space without the driver touching the steering wheel but also help get the car out.
There are five trim levels, with Studio now replacing Edge. All come with air conditioning and a much simpler and classy dash, as well as greatly improved build quality. However, if you want the larger eight-inch colour touchscreen that comes with Sync2 you need to look to the top spec Titanium and Titanium X models to have this as standard. Even then, you must pay an extra £250 for satellite navigation. Lesser trim levels have a five-inch screen as standard or you can upgrade to the Sync2 system for £500, although that does then come with the sat-nav.
Although opting for the more expensive Zetec-S and Titanium trim levels is more expensive up front, these models hold their value better in the long term so are worth the paying more for. For private buyers, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost may seem appealing, but the extra economy and emissions advantage of the new 1.5 TDCi engine would steer us in its direction thanks to 74.2mpg and a CO2 output of just 98g/km, which means there’s no VED to pay.
The Focus is now a more considered car, though it still falls short on passenger space.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds
Economy: 74.2mpg combined
Insurance: Group tbc
Tax: Band A – £0
Figures for the 1.5 TDCi 120 Zetec