Ford Focus hatchback

£15,995 - £29,995

The Ford Focus is incredibly popular with private owners and company-car drivers alike – and with good reason. It's more fun to drive than just about any other current family hatchback and is well ahead of strong rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Kia Cee’d in this respect. The Focus also has lots of equipment and a large choice of economical engines, while the abundance of Ford dealers in the UK makes buying and servicing one extremely easy.

The latest Focus is better built than its predecessors and it also has a five-star crash-protection rating from Euro NCAP. It comes with the likes of front, side and curtain airbags, a driver tiredness monitor and a lane-departure warning system.

If you need more space, then the Ford Focus estate is available, but we’re concerned only with the five-door hatchback here, which has a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines. The tiny, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engines have particularly impressive figures (they’re capable of up to 65.7mpg in the Focus) but that number is pretty hard to achieve in real-world driving conditions.

They’re very cheap to tax, though: the 98bhp EcoBoost is exempt and the 123bhp version costs just £20 a year. They’re both smooth and responsive, which makes them excellent for anyone who does a lot of driving in town or covers low-to-average mileage. The 123bhp version is better if you plan to spend a little time on the motorway.

The diesel engines are the best bet for high-mileage drivers. The 1.5-litre is available with three different power outputs and is very cheap to run. The most powerful of the three offers the best mix of performance and economy, as it can do 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds and returns 74.3mpg.

If you fancy something faster, there's always the Ford Focus ST hot hatchback It has a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and is good for 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds – plus there's even a diesel ST that's both quick and economical.

There are six trim levels for the standard Focus if you don’t count the ST. The entry-level Studio and Style models are not particularly well equipped, but the mid-range Zetec really improves things, while the subsequent Zetec S, Titanium and Titanium X versions are very well kitted out indeed.

Previously, we’ve recommended the Zetec trim level, but Titanium is now our Focus of choice, as it offers more equipment when compared to direct rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf Match. It's available with a wider choice of engines and the specification includes an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and cruise control.

Even the most basic Focus gets electronic stability control, tyre-pressure monitors and air-conditioning, though, while DAB digital radio is standard from Style upwards. Only the Titanium models come with Ford's latest SYNC2 touchscreen infotainment system.