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Ford Focus hatchback (2004-2011)

“This is one of the best small family cars to drive and offers a range of powerful diesels. ECOnetic versions offer great fuel economy."

Carbuyer Rating

3.0 out of 5

Owners Rating

1.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Great build quality
  • Excellent to drive
  • Wide choice of models

Cons

  • Steep depreciation
  • Entry-level cars lack equipment
  • Smaller engines low on power

Ford’s Focus proves that you don’t need to buy an expensive sports car to enjoy great handling. This is one of the best small family cars to drive, and offers a range of great engines to complement its impressive chassis. Diesel engines offer good economy, although we think the entry-level petrol-powered models are best, particularly the 1.6 115 Zetec S. Zetec models are sporty and affordable. Build quality and luxury - particularly in Titanium badged cars - is just about a match for upmarket rivals like the VW Golf. ECOnetic editions offer great fuel economy, while the high-performance ST and RS versions are fun to drive. Both three and five-door models are spacious, while the latter is the better family choice.

MPG, running costs & CO2

The Focus is not the most expensive car in its class to run

Despite big depreciation, the Focus is not the most expensive car in its class to run. Adding together servicing costs, fuel economy and the cost of consumables, such as new tyres and replacement parts for the braking and transmission system, means that comparatively cheap parts help to offset the effect of the Ford’s low resale price.

Engines, drive & performance

The car feels very stable on winding roads

Supportive seats, accurate steering and a light gearshift help to ensure that the Focus is an easy car to drive and control. Strong brakes are backed by traction control and electronic stability control, and the car feels very stable on rough, winding roads. A big windscreen means visibility is good, and there is a feeling of space that’s missing from rivals like the Vauxhall Astra. While entry-level 1.4-litre models are a little underpowered, both 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engined cars offer a good blend of performance and economy. Of the three diesel engines, our favourite is the 1.6 TDCi, which in green ECOnetic trim returns 66mpg and strong acceleration.

Interior & comfort

The cabin is quiet and the ride is comfortable

Sporty Zetec and Zetec S models offer affordable fun. However their firm suspension settings mean ultimate comfort is sacrificed. Five-door cars offer plenty of space for driver and passengers, while on the motorway, the cabin is quiet and the ride is comfortable. More cabin storage space would be welcome, and despite the improvements made by the 2008 facelift, we think the cabin quality of rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf is better.

Practicality & boot space

The Focus can still teach rivals a thing or two

It's not the most modern family car on the market, But the Focus can still teach rivals a thing or two. With its large boot and carefully designed cabin, the Focus offers class-leading stowage space and an easy to access luggage area. While the rear seats of the three-door model are large enough for children, five-door models offer more headroom.

Reliability & safety

13 recall notices have been issued for the Focus

Both JD Power and Driver Power satisfaction surveys mark Focus models out as reliable. However, some 13 recall notices have been issued for the car for a range of issues, the most recent highlighting concerns over the nuts used for the rear wheels on cars built between February and April 2009. The model scored top marks in the Euro NCAP crash test – with five stars.

Price, value for money & options

Rivals like the Renault Megane or Kia Cee’d offer more equipment

Pay the list price for a Focus, and you won't be getting value for money - similarly priced rivals such as the Renault Mégane or Kia Cee’d offer more equipment. However if you are prepared to haggle, the Focus is available with big discounts.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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