Review

Ford Focus hatchback

Price  £13,995 - £23,520

Ford Focus hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Great to drive
  • Excellent range of engines
  • Better looking than previous model
Cons
  • Boot is a bit small
  • High price for top-spec models
  • Interior quality not best-in-class

At a glance

The greenest
Titanium X 1.5 TDCi 120ps (s/s) 5dr £22,995
The cheapest
1.6 Ti-VCT 85 PS 5dr £13,995
Top of the range
Titanium X 1.5T EcoBoost 182ps 5dr £23,520

"The Ford Focus is now much more stylish, but it's still the best car in its class to drive."

The Ford Focus has dominated the small family hatchback class in the UK for a long time and is one of the manufacturer's most successful models. With the new version, Ford has attempted to address criticisms of the previous one, which predominantly concerned the car's slightly bland styling. The new car is much more striking to look at, while also improving on its predecessor's efficiency and handling, making it the best Focus yet. As ever, the Focus' biggest rival is the Volkswagen Golf – it feels more upmarket, but the Focus is more fun to drive.

Buyers can choose from six different trims. Entry-level Studio and Edge models are reasonably priced, but the mid-range Zetec and Zetec S cars have significantly more equipment and accessories, with the S offering better handling and a sportier ride. The top-of-the-range Titanium and Titanium X trims are pretty expensive, but they do have lots of equipment, which has made them popular with buyers in the past.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.6 / 5

The new Ford Focus has impressive range of engines, with low running costs across the board

The new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol and 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engines have the same power output as the outgoing 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, but with improved fuel economy. Ford also says they have better power delivery – with more power available more of the time – as well as being smoother and quieter.

Driving them back-to-back with the old engines reveals the differences are so minor that you’ll barely notice them, but they’re fantastic engines all the same.

We like the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, as it performs well, sounds good and is pretty cheap to tax.

Engines, drive & performance

4.6 / 5

The Ford Focus is, as ever, the most fun car to drive in its class

For a car that's clearly been designed to priotise comfort and efficiency over driver enjoyment, the Focus is still remarkably fun to drive. Ford's tendency to soften its models over successive generations seemingly hasn’t hurt their overall quality.

The Focus remains more exciting to drive than rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra thanks to its agility and a sense of fun that Ford has managed to carry over from the first two generations of the car. In the small family hatchback class, it remains the first choice for those who really enjoy driving. As part of the recent facelift, Ford improved steering response and handling. We tried the new car back-to-back with the old one, and it does feel fracrtionally better to drive. It’s definitely the class leader when it comes to fun.

You get best-in-class electric power-steering and superb grip in all driving conditions, thanks to a system that redirects power to whichever wheel needs it most. This gives you greater confidence behind the wheel.

There's plenty of performance on offer from every engine in the range – even the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol accelerates strongly while returning very impressive fuel economy. The line-up also includes 1.6-litre petrol engines ranging from 104bhp to 180bhp, plus 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesels going from 95bhp to 161bhp. The diesel are really only worth looking at if you regularly clock up a lot of miles per year.

Interior & comfort

4.3 / 5

All Ford Focus models get an uncluttered dashboard and smooth suspension

Ford has got rid of all the tiny confusing buttons that littered the centre console of the last Focus and replaced them with a much clearer colour touchscreen. The heater controls are also much simpler now. Every model in the range except the entry-level Studio version has the colour touchscreen.

The design and the quality of materials in the Focus still aren’t quite as good as they are in the Golf, but they're certainly an improvement over the previous model. Of the other cars in this class, only the Audi A3 and the Golf are ahead of the Focus in terms of interior finish.

Ford has slightly tweaked the suspension settings for better handling and comfort in the latest model. In all honesty, the changes are so subtle that we struggled to tell the difference. This isn’t a problem, though, as the previous Focus dealt with bumpy roads and potholes incredibly well and the new one is no different.

As with most cars, the smaller the alloy wheels, the better the ride.

Practicality & boot space

2.5 / 5

The new Ford Focus boot is small compared to rivals

The boot of the new Focus remains the same size as the old one, so it'll still hold 316 litres of luggage, which is less than the class average and only 17 litres more than the smaller Ford Fiesta. The VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra offer 64 and 54 litres more than the Focus respectively – it’s worth bearing this in mind if you regularly need plenty of boot space.

One of the Focus' best features is its standard split-folding rear seats, which fold flat easily to make loading cumbersome items much easier. However, if you really do want maximum practically from the Focus, you should consider buying the estate version of the car.

There’s decent head and legroom for rear passengers, which compensates slightly for the disappointing boot space.

Reliability & safety

3.9 / 5

Quality and safety are improving, but the Ford Focus isn't as well built as a Volkswagen Golf

The Focus’ main competitor has always been the Volkswagen Golf, and the Focus has consistently come second-best to it in terms of reliability. That's still true, but the gap has never been closer, with Ford's entire current range of cars making significant improvements in this area.

Ford itself didn't perform well in the 2014 Driver Power survey, especially when you consider it makes two of the UK's best-selling cars – the Fiesta and Focus. It dropped two places from 2013 to rank 25th out of 33 brands in the manufacturer rankings.

The Focus' interior layout and the quality are better than they've ever been, though, so there's definitely reason to be optimistic about build quality.

The new Focus has yet to be crash-tested, but the previous model earned the maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP and we'd expect this one to do the same. The car now has a system that can detect approaching traffic when you're reversing out of a space.

Price, value for money & options

3.8 / 5

Quite expensive, but the Ford Focus gets plenty of standard equipment

The Focus is expensive, with most models in the range costing more than the equivalent Volkswagen Golf. The Focus does come better equipped as standard and should be cheaper to run than a Golf, although it can't match German car’s resale values. 

The Ford Focus range begins with the Studio and Edge trims, which have a DAB digital radio, air-conditioning, a Bluetooth phone connection, electric windows and central locking as standard. The mid-range Zetec models include 16-inch alloys, a Quickclear heated windscreen and heated door mirrors, while the top-of-the-range Titanium and Titanium X trims add automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, keyless go, cruise control and hill-start assist.

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 1 review
4.0 / 5
"Ford has injected more class into the Focus, better equipping it for a family hatchback market which demands ever more luxury and technology."
Last updated 
8 Sep 2014

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