Once a best-seller for Ford, the popularity of the Focus has declined somewhat in recent times, as the brand’s SUVs have gained momentum, with the firm prioritising production of these models.
But the Focus’ days are far from numbered, as Ford is now back with a mid-life update to keep this hatchback and estate as fresh as possible. Design changes follow those seen on the Fiesta, including a new grille, redesigned badge replacement and further design differentiation between the trim levels.
Inside, the new Focus adopts Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system, which on higher spec cars sees the addition of a new wide 13.2-inch touchscreen – the largest of any car in this segment – and brings significant connectivity and technology updates. But can these changes make the Focus stand out next to newer rivals like the Peugeot 308 and Seat Leon.
Much of the updated Focus range is based around Ford’s well-known 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, which is available with outputs of 123bhp or 153bhp. Mild-hybrid tech is available as an option on the less powerful version, and included as standard on the higher-output version, helping to boost both performance and efficiency. A choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic are available on both too.
Accelerating to 60mph takes 10 seconds with the 123bhp car, or just 8.2 seconds if you fancy the additional poke of the 153bhp model. Slightly unusually, the more powerful choice is the most efficient, returning a respectable 54.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
High-mileage drivers still have the option of a diesel – a 118bhp 1.5-litre unit that can come with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. A 9.6-second 0-60mph sprint time is possible, while Ford claims a seriously impressive 67mpg fuel economy figure, with 110g/km CO2 emissions.
Ride and handling
The Focus has always been one of the more enjoyable cars to drive in the family hatchback class, and this new Focus continues to impress in this area. It’s more fun down a winding country road than many rivals, while the 153bhp engine in our test car feels rather sprightly, and delivers a great combination of performance and efficiency.
The engine itself isn’t the most refined, though, and the ride is perhaps not as comfortable as models like the Volkswagen Golf. But where fun is concerned, it’s one of the best options this side of a proper hot hatch.
Chief to the changes in the Focus’ interior is that new 13.2-inch touchscreen, which works like a big tablet. It’s crystal clear, while the latest Sync 4 software is impressive, feeling much quicker and more responsive to use than the old system. Wireless updates also mean this system will continue to get better over time.
The Focus also remains a practical choice that’s well-suited to smaller families that don’t want an SUV. There’s plenty of rear seat space, while the boot is competitively sized by class standards.
Ford has rejigged the trim levels on the latest Focus. Key to the changes are that the Vignale – previously the range-topping model – is now purely an options pack for various grades.
Kicking off the range is the Trend, which is equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, a heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors and an eight-inch touchscreen. It could be worth upgrading to the Titanium, however, which brings keyless entry, the large 13.2-inch touchscreen and dual-zone climate control. An optional ‘Titanium Vignale’ is also offered with this getting larger 17-inch alloys, heated front seats and steering wheel and digital instrument cluster.
An Active version is also offered, bringing a more rugged exterior design, while the ST-Line gets a sportier look instead. A Vignale specification is available on both, too.
The Focus is pretty good at catering to all, with a whole variety of specifications available, and there’s something to suit most budgets.
Prices kick off from £23,500 for an entry-level 1.0-litre Trend model, while the Titanium is available from an attractive £24,750. Prices do rise quite significantly as you go up the range ladder, with the flagship ST-Line Vignale model costing north of £30,000 with a more powerful engine.
In a day and age where crossovers dominate the sales charts, the Ford Focus is a true reminder that you don’t have to get an SUV if you want a practical family car.
Bringing plenty of style, technology and a great driving experience, the Ford Focus remains one of the most accomplished cars in the family hatchback segment.