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In-depth reviews

Ford Focus review - Reliability & safety

Ford Focus safety impresses, but ownership experience remains unproven

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Reliability & safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Ford Focus has routinely been one of the UK’s best-selling cars and Ford has made every effort to ensure it’s also one of the safest on the road. There are more active safety systems than ever before on the Mk4 model to help keep the Focus from having a bump, if at all possible. It’s just a shame that owner satisfaction and reliability aren’t higher: Ford doesn’t tend to perform very well in our annual Driver Power survey.  In 2023, the brand came 28th out of 32 manufacturers, with 21% of owners reporting a fault within the first year.

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The pre-facelift version of the Focus came in 72nd out of the top 75 cars in the 2021 survey, but as that was one place above its closest rival, the VW Golf, and only a couple of places behind the Vauxhall Astra, it seems these popular family cars should all offer similarly good ownership experiences.

The Focus dropped out of the top 75 cars in our 2022 and 2023 surveys. The Citroen C4 was the best-rated family hatch in our survey, and actually came in first place overall.

Safety

The Focus has received an impressive five-star safety rating from independent body Euro NCAP, despite stringent new standards. Ford certainly made a big push in active safety technology with the latest Focus, fitting it with three radars, two cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors - more than any Ford in history.

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In this battle to prevent collisions before they even happen, the Focus’ latest tool is ‘Evasive Steering Assist’, which can help you take avoiding action to steer around a slow-moving or stationary vehicle. This sits alongside standard autonomous emergency braking, while the Focus can now detect pedestrians and cyclists near the road, or who may be about to cross. A suite of safety kit labelled 'Co-Pilot 360' includes adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition and a system to help keep the Focus in the middle of its lane on the motorway.

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Even the reversing camera has been tweaked to give a ‘near-180 degree’ view of what’s happening behind the car, making it safer to reverse out of parking spaces. Other innovations include the first head-up display to be offered in the Focus and adaptive headlights that automatically adjust to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.

As well as new technology, Ford says the underpinnings that form the foundations of the Focus can withstand 40% more load in a front impact than the previous generation car’s.

Servicing

Ford has the largest network of dealers and authorised workshops of any manufacturer in the UK, which is one of the reasons its cars are so popular. It also means that routine maintenance should be convenient, with a workshop in most big towns. Servicing is required every year or every 12,500 miles, whichever comes first.

Your Ford dealer can arrange a service contract that takes your annual mileage into account, and this can make it easier to manage running costs. Consumable parts such as tyres and brake components are all readily available, which helps keep costs down – even the biggest 18-inch tyres are of a size and specification that's also used by many rival cars.

Warranty

Every Ford sold in the UK has a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which can be extended to four or five years at extra cost. A year's roadside assistance is included, too, but this warranty package is now badly overshadowed by those from Hyundai, Kia and Toyota – 10 years or 100,000 miles in the case of the latter.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV Titanium 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £28,470

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV Titanium 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £28,470

Fastest

  • Name
    2.3 EcoBoost ST 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £39,005

Steve Walker is group web editor at Autovia, overseeing the online presence of Auto Express, Carbuyer, evo and DrivingElectric. Steve has been working as a motoring journalist, road tester and editor since 2002 and has written about cars for numerous titles over the years from Coach and Bus Week and the Yorkshire Post to The Scotsman, AutoTrader, MSN and the Wall Street Journal

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