Ford Focus

The Focus competes in one of most hotly contested classes in the market, going head-to-head with models such as the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and even more upmarket offerings such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. It's available as a five-door hatchback or estate, and a facelift in late 2014 improved styling, refinement, technology and emissions, helping it take the fight to the VW Golf more effectively than ever before. Thankfully, it remains great to drive.

Ford Focus hatchback

£13,995 - £25,885
5 Doors
4.4 / 5
  • Sharp handling
  • Efficient diesel engines
  • Punchy turbo petrol engines
  • Boot is quite small
  • Studio version feels basic
  • EcoBoost's real-world economy disappoints

Following its late 2014 update, the Ford Focus now has the upmarket looks it needs to challenge the Volkswagen Golf. Ford also introduced a range of slightly more efficient petrol and diesel engines, making the car cheaper to run than ever. If you do less than 15,000 miles a year, we'd recommend the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol, but buyers doing more than that should think about the 1.5 or 2.0-litre TDCi diesels. Ford also offers the spacious Ford Focus estate and the fast Ford Focus ST performance version – the latter available as a diesel for the first time as part of the late-2014 facelift.

Ford Focus Estate

£18,180 - £26,985
5 Doors
4.1 / 5
  • Looks good inside and out
  • Great petrol and diesel engines
  • Good fun to drive
  • Hatchback is slightly better to drive
  • Some rivals have even more luggage space
  • Doesn’t hold its value well on the used market

The Ford Focus estate was heavily revised along with the hatchback in late 2014. It retains the model's characteristic practical interior and generously sized boot practical, making it an ideal car for small businesses and families alike. As with the hatchback, the sweet spot is in the middle of the range, as the entry-level trim is pretty sparse and higher-spec versions suffer from excessive depreciation.

Ford Focus ST hatchback

£22,495 - £26,295
5 Doors
4.6 / 5
  • Just as practical as standard car
  • Great value for money
  • Comfortable yet fast
  • Subtle styling
  • No three-door version
  • Not the fastest hot hatchback

The Ford Focus ST is a performance version of the standard Ford Focus hatchback, but is built with an eye on everyday usability as well. As a result, it's not only blisteringly quick in a straight line, but also comfortable and refined. The car's suspension strikes a great balance between ensuring sharp handling and softly sprung comfort, while the engine sounds quiet below 3,500rpm. Unlike the old Focus ST, the current model is only available as a five-door, but this time around it comes as an estate model, too, which means it's more of a family car than ever before. It also starts with a price tag that greatly undercuts its main rivals.

Ford Focus ST estate

£23,595 - £27,395
5 Doors
4.5 / 5
  • Fun and engaging to drive
  • Powerful and responsive engine
  • More subtle and practical than hatchback
  • Ride is quite firm
  • Not suitable for towing
  • Bigger estates are available

Like the Ford Focus ST hatchback, the ST estate is a high-performance version of the regular car that remains practical and relatively affordable for everyday use. It's also fast, comfortable, refined and superb fun to drive, but adds the extra appeal of a large estate-car boot to the ST's already compelling formula. A great-value price and the choice of petrol or diesel power completes the package.

Ford Focus Electric hatchback

£23,885 - £31,145
5 Doors
2.8 / 5
  • Very quiet
  • Cheap to run
  • Plenty of equipment
  • Expensive to buy
  • Poor range compared to petrol car
  • Extra weight compromises handling

The Ford Focus Electric is a purely electric version of Ford's popular family hatchback. It's powered by a 143bhp electric motor that's linked to two batteries, so CO2 emissions are zero. The car comes with plenty of standard equipment and a high-quality interior, but the batteries are heavy and fitting them in the Focus has compromised practicality. Arguably the biggest problem is the car's price, which makes it much more expensive than a number of rivals and roughly the same price as the excellent BMW i3 Range Extender, which offers double the 100-mile range of the Focus Electric, is better to drive and has a back-up petrol engine for when the batteries run out.