Ford Focus hatchback

£16,245 - £26,135

The Ford Focus has been one of the UK's favourite cars since the first-generation arrived in the late 1990s, and the latest version continues that tradition. It remains one of the most enjoyable family hatchbacks to drive, it's well equipped and there's a wide range of engines and trim combinations to choose from, plus you’ll be able to buy and maintain one from pretty much anywhere in the country, thanks to nearly 800 dealers across the UK. 

There's a Focus for every buyer, too. There's the standard five-door hatchback, a practical estate, sporty ST – available with petrol or diesel power and in hatchback or estate bodystyles – as well as the high-performance RS version. 

From the outside, the Focus looks similar to every other Ford model with an Aston Martin-style grille, slim headlamps and a wide choice of colours to choose from. The interior continues the modern theme, with higher-spec models featuring Ford's latest SYNC 2 touchscreen infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard.

Equipment levels are fairly generous in the Focus, although we’d avoid entry-level Style and Studio models. Every trim gets air-conditioning and a tyre pressure monitoring system, but you’ll need to move further up the range to Titanium – our recommended trim - if you want luxuries like dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, the SYNC 2 touchscreen infotainment system and cruise control. 

The Focus is a nice place to spend time in, too. Quality is good, although there are some cheaper plastics lower down on the centre console and on lower parts of the dashboard, but it's generally a solid-feeling car. There's a decent amount of space, but its boot is smaller than those of the VW Golf and SEAT Leon

The engine range is comprehensive, and our favourite Titanium trim is available with the best engines in the range, too. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines are particularly impressive if you don’t cover lots of miles, plus they’re not too expensive to run and nippy around town. We’d go for the higher-powered 123bhp EcoBoost if you spend more time on faster roads. Be aware, though, Ford claims impressive economy figures for EcoBoost engines, but they can be some way off in everyday driving. 

If you cover higher mileages, we’d go for the most powerful 1.5-litre TDCI diesel engine. It mixes plenty of power and impressive economy – it will go from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, but returns a claimed 74.3mpg. If you don’t need the power, there are two less powerful versions of the same engine available. 

On the road, the Focus is one of the most enjoyable compact family hatchbacks to drive. It feels lively in corners thanks to sharp steering and suspension that makes the Focus feel agile, but it's comfortable at the same time. 

The Focus is a safe car, achieving a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and also comes with a full suite of airbags, a driver fatigue monitor and lane-departure warning system.