In-depth reviews

Ford Focus hatchback review

“The Ford Focus is as great to drive as ever, plus it’s spacious, well-equipped and comfortable”

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Attractive looks
  • Entertaining drive
  • Spacious interior

Cons

  • Indifferent image
  • Lacklustre residuals
  • Average after-sales record

The Ford Focus is one of the most familiar car names in the UK, as, along with the Fiesta it’s one of the bestselling cars. This family hatchback is well known for being good to drive but it has plenty of other positive traits as well. Its rivals are models such as the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Kia Ceed.

Best hatchbacks

Some buyers are moving into more upmarket models such as the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class, so the latest fourth-generation Focus got a posher interior to help it compete. A new Active version with off-road styling was even added to the range in the hope of preventing some buyers jumping ship to an SUV like the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 or SEAT Ateca.

The Focus has been updated, so it’s more handsome than before but it still struggles to stand out in many ways. It’s not as trendy as an SUV or as eye-catching as, for example, the latest Peugeot 308 but the Focus is still a smart-looking family car. Whatever you think of its looks, the appeal of the Focus has always been under the skin.

The Ford Focus has built a reputation on fun handling and this new model is very much in keeping with that; it’s among the best cars of its type to drive. Its suspension is sophisticated and manages to control the car’s body nicely when on a twisty road, yet it’s also comfortable and smooth on bumpy surfaces. Its sharp steering means it’s fun no matter what kind of road you’re on, plus there’s a good selection of petrol and diesel engines and even a fast ST model (reviewed separately).

Those engines are familiar from other Ford models, but have been developed further for better response and economy. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost features a cylinder-deactivation system that Ford claims is the first offered on a three-cylinder engine – it can run on two cylinders when full power isn't required. A four-cylinder EcoBlue diesel is available in 1.5 or 2.0-litre guises, and an eight-speed automatic gearbox is offered, with control via a rotary gear selector.

The more distinctive style of the latest Focus' exterior is matched inside, where Ford boasts big improvements in interior quality. There's loads of space inside, too, and the boot is almost on a par with that of the Volkswagen Golf. Standard equipment is comprehensive on the entry-level Zetec Edition, generous on the mid-range Titanium Edition and you get a different look on sporty ST Line versions and rugged Active versions.

A convincing five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP means the Focus is one of the safest cars in its class, with more safety technology than any Ford before it. Ford's 25th-place finish out of 29 manufacturers in our 2021 Driver Power survey isn't particularly impressive, however.

And that really would seal the deal, because the fourth-generation Focus really is the best yet. It looks fresh and up to date inside and out, drives brilliantly and has all the technology most buyers will need. Some rivals may be more practical or upmarket – the latest Volkswagen Golf is still the class-leader for interior quality – but the latest Ford Focus is a brilliantly talented all-rounder and far more than just a competent family car.

Recommended

MG 5 EV estate review
MG 5 Estate
MG 5
15 Oct 2021

MG 5 EV estate review

Dacia Duster SUV review
Dacia Duster SUV  front 3/4 tracking
Dacia Duster
14 Oct 2021

Dacia Duster SUV review

Cupra Formentor SUV review
Best Hot SUV: Cupra Formentor
Cupra Formentor
14 Oct 2021

Cupra Formentor SUV review

MINI Convertible review
Best Convertible: MINI Convertible
MINI Convertible
14 Oct 2021

MINI Convertible review

Most Popular

Top 10 best 4x4s and SUVs 2021
Peugeot 3008 SUV rear 3/4 tracking
Family SUVs
29 Sep 2021

Top 10 best 4x4s and SUVs 2021

Top 10 best company cars 2021
Hyundai Ioniq 5 front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
14 Oct 2021

Top 10 best company cars 2021

Electric MG 5 EV estate gets new look for 2022
New MG 5 EV
MG 5
12 Oct 2021

Electric MG 5 EV estate gets new look for 2022

More on Focus

Updated Ford Focus gets SYNC 4 infotainment system
2021 Ford Focus
Ford Focus
14 Oct 2021

Updated Ford Focus gets SYNC 4 infotainment system

The new Ford Focus gets a minor redesign, along with upgraded safety technology and the brand’s latest infotainment system
Top 10 best hot hatchbacks 2021
Hyundai i20 N
Hot hatches
8 Oct 2021

Top 10 best hot hatchbacks 2021

The best hot hatchbacks offer sports car thrills and performance with everyday usability and practicality for a reasonable price.
Ford Focus Active hatchback review
Ford Focus Active hatchback
Ford Focus Active hatchback
16 Sep 2021

Ford Focus Active hatchback review

"The Ford Focus Active brings crossover appeal to the Focus range and teaches SUVs a thing or two in the process"
Top 3 used estate cars for £10,000
Best estate cars under £10k - header image
Estates
8 Sep 2021

Top 3 used estate cars for £10,000

“Dear CarBuyer, I want a good family estate car for a budget of £10,000 - what do you recommend?”
Top 10 most economical family cars 2021
Skoda Octavia hatchback
Best cars
26 Jul 2021

Top 10 most economical family cars 2021

Choose one of our top ten most economical family cars and you'll save money while being able to carry passengers and their luggage.
Top 10 best diesel cars 2021
BMW 3 Series
Best cars
1 Jul 2021

Top 10 best diesel cars 2021

Diesel cars are well known for excellent fuel economy and great performance - here are 10 of the best on sale today
What is Ford SYNC 3?
Ford Focus ST Estate infotainment display
Ford Focus hatchback
30 Jun 2021

What is Ford SYNC 3?

Everything you need to know about the Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system
The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks

While hatchbacks might normally be used for trips to the shops, the hot hatch power war has resulted in the fastest models being quicker than most spo…
Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?
2020 Ford Puma - front tracking
Ford Focus hatchback
4 Jun 2021

Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?

Everything you need to know about Ford’s high efficiency EcoBoost engine technology
New Volkswagen Golf GTD Mk8 vs Ford Focus ST diesel: rivals comparison
Volkswagen Golf GTD vs Ford Focus ST header image
News
30 Apr 2021

New Volkswagen Golf GTD Mk8 vs Ford Focus ST diesel: rivals comparison

How does the new VW Golf GTD compare to Ford’s diesel-powered ST?
Top 10 best used hatchbacks 2021
2014 Skoda Octavia in blue driving around a corner
Family hatchbacks
12 Feb 2021

Top 10 best used hatchbacks 2021

Cars like these are easy to park, spacious, well-equipped and cheap to run. We pick out the best used hatchbacks
Facelifted 2021 Ford Focus nears production
2021 Ford Focus in camouflage
Ford Focus
8 Feb 2021

Facelifted 2021 Ford Focus nears production

New Ford Focus set to take on latest VW Golf with updated looks and infotainment
Ford Focus ST hatchback
Ford Focus ST hatchback front cornering
Ford Focus ST hatchback
12 Jan 2021

Ford Focus ST hatchback

"The Ford Focus ST is one of the most exciting hot hatchbacks on sale but is no longer a cheap option when compared with its rivals"
New 2020 Citroen C4 and e-C4: prices start at £20,990
Citroën C4 Cactus
1 Oct 2020

New 2020 Citroen C4 and e-C4: prices start at £20,990

The new Citroen C4 gets an SUV-style design, new tech, and full range of powertrains
Ford Focus Estate
Ford Focus Estate
18 Sep 2020

Ford Focus Estate

"The Ford Focus Estate is a practical car that's good looking, comfortable and great to drive"
Top 3 used family hatchbacks for £6,000
Ford Focus hatchback
4 Sep 2020

Top 3 used family hatchbacks for £6,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I need a spacious family hatchback that’s economical. What do you recommend for a budget of £6,000?”
Ford Focus Vignale review
Ford Focus Vignale - 3/4 front view
Ford Focus hatchback
10 Aug 2020

Ford Focus Vignale review

The Ford Focus Vignale adds premium appeal to the range if you can live with the high price
Ford Focus range gets mild-hybrid technology
Ford Focus
22 Jun 2020

Ford Focus range gets mild-hybrid technology

2020 Ford Focus mHEV offers slightly better fuel economy and extra equipment
New Ford Focus vs VW Golf vs Vauxhall Astra: rivals comparison
Ford Focus
28 Apr 2020

New Ford Focus vs VW Golf vs Vauxhall Astra: rivals comparison

The Ford Focus is better than ever, but how does it compare to the new Volkswagen Golf and updated Vauxhall Astra?
A3 vs Golf vs 1 Series vs A-Class vs Focus
Ford Focus
23 Mar 2020

A3 vs Golf vs 1 Series vs A-Class vs Focus

The Audi A3, VW Golf, BMW 1 Series, Mercedes A-Class and Ford Focus all have plenty to offer, but each provides a unique take on the class
“Ignore the official figures and change how you drive for better fuel economy”
BMW 3 Series Touring driving - front view
BMW 1 Series hatchback
13 Mar 2020

“Ignore the official figures and change how you drive for better fuel economy”

Considering shelling out for a more economical car? You may be better off just changing how you drive, says Buyacar editor Christofer Lloyd
Ford Focus ST Estate
Ford Focus ST estate
25 Feb 2020

Ford Focus ST Estate

"The Ford Focus ST Estate is just as good to drive as the hatchback but has a much bigger boot"
Top 3 used quick estates for £15,000
Skoda Octavia vRS estate
24 Jan 2020

Top 3 used quick estates for £15,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I want a performance estate to cover long journeys with enough room for my cello. What are my options for £15,000?”

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
29 Sep 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2021
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
12 Aug 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks