With a more athletic and dynamic appearance, the all-new fourth generation Ford Focus reinforces its reputation as a true class-leader. And with plenty of spec levels and engine sizes to choose from there really is the perfect car to suit any requirements.
The goodPerformance, style, technology and handling
The badNot cheap... but worth every penny
Ford Focus Active X Vignale Edition 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid (2020)
There is little doubt concerning the popularity and success of the Ford Focus with the model frequently featuring high in the top 10 monthly car sales figures, but now the option of hybrid technology has been added to the mix.
The Focus is available in estate or hatchback body styles and with a large range of powerful and award-winning engines. Now buyers can see improved fuel efficiency along with reduced carbon emissions by choosing one of the hybrid versions.
We tried out the five-door Focus Active X in Vignale trim powered by a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine with a 48-volt battery. This car, costing £28,680 (£29,630 with options), could reach 62mph from a standing start in 9.5 seconds and maxed out at 129mph. According to official figures, under stricter WLTP testing, the vehicle could deliver a combined 51.4mpg with CO2 of 124g/km.
Compared to standard Focus designs, the Active model has a higher ground clearance with SUV styling and bundles of extra cladding. Although it’s by no means a hardy 4×4 there are additional drive modes alongside the more traditional Normal, Eco and Sport ones. These are for extra grip when driving on wet grass or gravel tracks and are called Slippery and Trail modes.
The vehicle looks impressive from any angle with its more upright stance, special Active bumpers, a unique upper and lower grille, branded scuff plates, skid plates, wheel arch mouldings, a panoramic roof, 18-inch black painted alloys, twin tail pipes and body coloured power-folding door mirrors with puddle lamps.
Move inside and the interior is modern and classy with Vignale Leather upholstered seats plus a wealth of technology at your fingertips. There is a premium Bang & Olufsen surround sound system, the Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system with an eight-inch floating touchscreen that introduces a DAB radio, navigation and Bluetooth. There is also a wireless smartphone charging pad plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.
The 4.2-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel can be personalised and the car also features FordPass Connect – an app-based system that allows you to control all manner of functions from your phone, such as locking and unlocking the car, checking the tyre pressure and accessing live traffic reports.
When it comes to performance, Ford’s three-pot EcoBoost engine has proved to be a tried and tested formula over the years. So, there was little doubt that this clever little engine would ever struggle as it powered through country lanes with bundles of acceleration, fizz and zip to overtake slower vehicles.
The road holding is nice and grippy and there is little sign of body sway into tighter bends.
The six-speed manual gearbox is responsive and the front-wheel drive Focus Active is confident clocking up the motorway miles too, although the noise levels within the cabin do increase quite significantly if the engine is pushed too hard for too long.
The car is agile and easy to manoeuvre in busier town centres and the Park Assist helps make light work of squeezing into a tight space.
When it comes to practicality, the Focus Active has all bases well covered. There is ample room for two adults to sit comfortably in the back if the front seats are not pushed right back. Alternatively, a trio of youngsters could fit snugly across the rear seats.
The boot can swallow 341 litres of luggage and this limit increases to 1,320 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. Boot hooks help keep shopping bags upright and there’s lots of handy storage options throughout the car, including cup holders that can be size-adjusted to fit cups or bottles, a glovebox, sunglasses holder, central cubby, decent sized door pockets and a small compartment hidden away beside the driver’s right knee.
When you also factor in the generous levels of on-board safety kit and driver aids that helped the car gain a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating, this Focus Active hybrid model seems to be the ideal all-rounder for any family. It has simply got more efficient along the way, which has to be a positive factor.
Ford Focus (2018) – first drive
It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades since Ford sent shockwaves through the motoring industry by announcing plans to ditch the hugely popular Escort. But, in its place the Ford Focus was launched and with record sales under its belt, it’s proved itself to be a very worthy replacement.
In the last 20 years the Focus has evolved considerably, but Ford claims the latest all-new fourth generation model, which was designed from a clean sheet of paper, is the ‘best ever’ and that’s quite a bold statement to make.
The company listened to plenty of customer feedback and has acted on it, so new Focus is more spacious inside. But the growth spurt is rather deceptive with just an 18mm increase in the length and a wheelbase extended by 53mm so the car’s dimensions remain fairly similar. However, the interior is roomier as a result and that translates into extra space for passengers. Two six footers can sit comfortably one behind the other without any complaints and back seat passengers now have glass to peer through instead of a metal panel.
The new line-up boasts seven variants and costs from £17,930 for the entry-level Style. That’s a price-drop of £2,300 compared to the outgoing model. Then there is Zetec and ST-Line which also get a price-drop and a new ST-Line X, Titanium, Titanium X and a range-topping Vignale model priced from £25,450 to complete the initial Focus line-up.
Customers can choose from an exciting range of petrol and diesel powertrains. The ever-popular three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is on offer with three different outputs 85PS, 100PS and 125PS, and there is an all-new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine delivering 150PS or 182PS.
On the diesel front, there is an all-new 1.5-litre EcoBlue engine delivering 95PS or 120PS along with a 2.0-litre 150PS unit. Buyers also get to select which transmission they want with six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes available.
The latest Focus looks striking from any approach. It has a more aggressive appearance, but isn’t a muscle car so will impress those who want plenty of street credibility without scaring away its more traditional and loyal fanbase.
Fresh design cues include a larger, yet instantly recognisable grille sitting between the horizontally biased headlamps, which like the tail lights, are positioned as wide as possible to accentuate the cars width. The ‘FOCUS’ badging is created by large individual satin letters between the rear lights and looks really neat.
Step inside and there is a fresh, clutter-free feel to the Focus as requested by existing customers. There are 50 per cent fewer buttons, but there is still a wealth of on-board technology to explore. The slimmer and lower console looks smarter, the dashboard is more forward facing and there is genuinely a more premium, upmarket feel to the car.
We tested a couple of models on a road route that incorporated busy city centre driving, motorways and winding country lanes. First up was the Titanium X model powered by the 1.0-litre 125PS EcoBoost petrol engine (EcoBoost is likely to account for 83 per cent of sales). This car, which featured a six-speed manual gearbox, was priced at £22,820 but some optional extras bumped it up to £26,495. It could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 10.0 seconds, topped out at 124mph and could deliver a combined 57.6mpg with carbon emissions of 111g/km.
Comfort levels within the car are sublime and it’s easy to find a good driving position with ample seat and steering wheel adjustment on offer. The pedals also line up perfectly. One new feature to the Focus is a head up display (a first for Ford in Europe) and this was a nice addition with ample height, brightness and readout adjustments on offer. Our car also boasted a pitch perfect Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker, 675-watt sound system (a £350 option), which when pumped up just a few notches will result in people hearing you long before the car turns a corner.
The eight-inch floating touchscreen is nice and clear, and full smartphone connection is a simple process via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The new Focus offers an enhanced ride and driving experience thanks to improvements to the suspension and chassis. As a result, the car is beautifully balanced when cornering meaning it can be driven enthusiastically into tight bends and the cabin is also well insulated against any engine, road surface or wind noise.
There are three drive modes called Normal, Eco and Sport that alter the way the car’s throttle and steering respond with Sport mode adding to the fun factor.
We also had a spell behind the wheel of the all-new Focus ST-Line model powered by the 1.5-litre 120PS diesel engine, once again mated to a six-speed manual box. This car was priced at £22,500 (increased to £24,600 with options) and could complete the 0-62mph sprintin 10.0 seconds, maxing out at 122mph. But the truly impressive stats on this particular model are found in the running costs with combined fuel economy of 78.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 97g/km.
It sits lower to the ground and features sportier styling cues such as a larger rear spoiler, a unique ST-Line upper and lower grille with body-styling and ST-Line wing badges, plus polished twin tailpipes.
The interior is also more dynamic in its appearance featuring a flat-bottomed steering wheel with red stitching, along with alloy pedals. There is sports tuned suspension which feels firmer, but also more confident when pushed hard into bends. And although the performance figures are similar to the more ‘sensible’ Titanium X car that we tested, it felt much quicker.
Ford has announced that the Focus will be available with a new FordPass Connect system. This app-based service, that works in tandem with an on-board modem built into the car, means the Focus can be locked or unlocked from a mobile phone. But it’s not all gimmicks as you can use your smartphone to check tyre pressures, fuel levels, find the vehicle’s location, look for parking spaces (with prices), get live traffic reports and connect up to 10 devices via Wi-Fi from up to 15 metres from the vehicle. Drivers of an automatic Focus can even start the car via the app so it begins the defrosting process in winter.
The FordPass Connect service is free for the first two years then costs ranging from £89 for the modem and £60 for live traffic alerts come into force.
Clearly the Focus is a vital car for Ford and is more often than not only beaten in the UK sales charts by its stablemate, the Fiesta. So hot on the heels of the five-door hatchback will be the arrival of an estate version in October/November with an Active Crossover model following at the turn of the year.
Ford Focus RS
If anyone out there is desperately striving to discover their inner-hooligan then look no further than the all-new third generation Focus RS which ticks all the right boxes.
It comes powered by the same 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine that features in the company’s mighty Mustang muscle car, but it has been enhanced even further to deliver more grunt which results in the most exhilarating and thrilling performance capabilities imaginable.
The 345bhp helps the fastest ever RS model burst from 0-62mph in a very rapid 4.7 seconds which is clearly supercar territory and it tops out at a whopping 165mph. In addition, the car has an extremely sophisticated and very clever four-wheel drive system to keep you on the straight and narrow at all times even in wet, slippery conditions.
Despite rolling off the same production line as the more basic Focus models the fire-breathing RS, which is priced from £29,995 (rising to a £31k starting price from the beginning of May), is immediately distinguishable thanks to some outrageous design cues. These include a huge honeycomb grille with matt black surround, muscular and bulging wheel arches, a prominent front splitter and a large tailgate spoiler. There are large 19-inch alloy wheels plus twin tailpipes which help to create the ultimate look that would not be out of place on the most challenging of rally circuits. But the Ford team is quick to highlight the fact that none of the features are cosmetic – they all serve a practical purpose.
Move inside the five-door, five-seater and it bears a remarkable resemblance to a spaceship cockpit which, when lit up, looks magnificent with neon blue needles on the dials and plenty of RS badging. There are body-hugging Recaro sports seats, along with more traditional Focus techno treats such as SYNC 2 connectivity which provides access to audio, sat nav, climate control and mobile phones via voice control or an eight-inch colour touchscreen. You can even ask for directions to the nearest race track which is very convenient. Other features of note include a Sony premium sound system with 10 speakers, a new flat-bottomed steering wheel and alloy pedals.
But the blue RS colour theme that runs throughout the car is a hint that this isn’t just any old Focus and that suggestion is reinforced by a bank of gauges positioned just above the central console that display data such as the turbocharger boost pressure, oil temperature and oil pressure. Then there are the Drive Modes which is another first for a Ford RS model. These include Normal and Sport which we are all familiar with and are ideal for road use. However Track and Drift are something we don’t come across every day and that’s what makes this particular Focus really stand out in a crowd. It may have the aggressive looks of a fiery hot hatch, but it needs to have the performance capabilities to match … and it does.
On normal roads the Focus RS is as composed as you want it to be and despite a somewhat firm ride, it copes effortlessly with everyday life moving smoothly through the six-speed manual gearbox. Admittedly, you will get some puzzled looks from bystanders mainly due to the car’s distinctive styling and the accompanying soundtrack, but all in all the Focus RS can be used as a practical vehicle. The boot is slightly smaller than the standard Focus because the all-wheel-drive system eats into its space, but that aside the car can be respectable and sensible when you want it to be, delivering combined fuel efficiency of 36.7mpg. After 90-minutes on winding country lanes, dual carriageways and busy villages we were averaging 27.8mpg. Carbon emissions are 175g/km.
However, when the fancy takes you, the Focus RS has a very explosive character to be explored and that means a visit to the track – Silverstone to be precise.
And it’s in those testing conditions that car really flexes its muscles and some of those ‘press me if you dare’ buttons come into play.
For instance, there is a launch control button that keeps revs at precisely the right level to ensure fast getaways and the ear-blasting symphony of pops, burbles and bangs will likely be heard by Tim Peake on the International Space Station.
Then there is the ‘drift’ mode which will allow you to slide into corners at full throttle in a controlled drift. There are no more understeer issues and tight bends can be exited at higher speeds without any heart-in-the-mouth moments. The ‘connected’ steering as Ford likes to call it results in instant responses without any throttle, braking or steering delays and that means the car reacts the split second you do.
And it’s these outstanding performance capabilities along with the dynamic styling that attracted 3,000 buyers to place orders before a single model had rolled off the production line in Germany. And of those initial sales, 61 per cent have chosen the dazzling Nitrous Blue paintwork and 91 per cent have added the Luxury Pack costing £1,000 extra which introduces the likes of powered windows, cruise control, privacy glass and rear sensors.
All in all, the Focus RS is a jaw-dropping beast of a car. It can be tamed, but is happiest when unleashed to run riot – if you get my drift!
Ford Focus ST-3 Estate 2.0
The words practical and performance rarely go together when describing a car – it’s normally one or the other. Not so the Ford Focus Estate ST.
For this beauty handles just like its hatchback counterpart but boasts all the versatility and flexibility of an estate.
Admittedly, if a car is delivered with Tangerine Scream paintwork, it gives an inkling to its potential and with its 2.0-litre petrol driven engine the car can soar from 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 154mph.
This car looks amazing from any angle. The front end is identical to the standard ST with its unique ST bodystyling kit and ST 18-inch alloys. But as you approach the rear of the vehicle the raised waistline and smarter LED tail lights are unique to this estate model.
The interior on this top-of-the-range ST-3 model is feature-rich with sporty techno treats at every turn and the test model included a range of optional extras which bumped up the asking price from £26,595 to £29,140.
The Recaro heated sports seats can be adjusted eight ways to find the most comfortable position and all dials and readouts are ideally positioned for driver usability.
Well, let’s face it – you will want to concentrate on driving and nothing else when behind the wheel of this high performance car.
Creature comforts include automatic headlights and wipers, a Sony DAB navigation system with rear view camera, nine speakers, Bluetooth, USB, voice control and five-inch colour screen, plus plenty more besides.
There is a generously-sized boot with a knee-high floor which makes loading much easier on this four-door model, and the storage capacity can be increased further thanks to 60:40 split-folding rear seats.
From the second you push the power button and the engine roars into life, you know this car is going to be a little bit special.
And it doesn’t disappoint. The beauty of the estate model is it handles almost identically to its hatchback counterpart.
Acceleration through the six-speed manual transmission is blistering, road-holding superb and comfort levels good, but bouncy!
There is a lot of engine noise, but when a car looks like a giant satsuma it’s got have some sort of driving presence to match!
And if the noise is too much, simply crank up the volume on the sound system.
Ford has packed a comprehensive range of safety specifications into the ST Estate, including a driver assistance pack which features active city stop, traffic sign recognition, driver alert, auto high beam and blind spot info system.
All in all, the Ford Focus ST Estate is a rare creation that really does offer all the fun and driving dynamics associated with ST models along with all the practicality required from an estate.
Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Petrol (100 PS) Titanium 5 door
With eyes firmly fixed on the economy and families searching for ways to save precious pounds, Ford has produced an engine powerful enough to drive its mighty Focus model without compromise on performance, yet frugal enough to make a real difference.
Oh too often manufacturers claim to have developed an engine with low CO2 emissions and excellent fuel efficiency and generally those models have to be handled Driving Miss Daisy style to see any noticeable results.
That’s not the case with the new Focus powered by a 1.0-litre engine that’s capable of reaching from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds, has a top speed of 120mph, boasts combined fuel economy of 58.9mpg and emissions of 109g/km.
It sounds almost too good to be true and I really expected the engine to struggle under testing conditions, but the Focus lived up to Ford’s big build up.
And another factor to take into account is the car’s overall size.
It looks massive compared to early generation Focus models but is driven in some style by a tiny three-cylinder engine generating just 100PS output.
The five-door Focus looks fantastic from all angles with its sculpted bonnet, smart sweeping light clusters, 17-inch alloys (£300 optional extra over 16-inch alloys), body-coloured rear spoiler, body-coloured door mirrors and handles, tinted windows and eye-catching streamlining.
And you won’t be disappointed once you take your seat behind the multi-function steering wheel as the level of on-board technology really is first class.
The cloth seats feature smart design patterns and offer excellent support and comfort levels and there is bags of room for back seat passengers to stretch out too.
Creature comforts include cruise control with speed limiter, dual-zone electronic air conditioning, ambient lighting, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a Sony sound system compatible with modern day devices and plenty more besides.
The deep boot is generous in size and can be extended further thanks to 60:40 split folding rear seats.
In slow moving traffic, the Focus cruises along effortlessly and then the engine bursts into life on the open road.
There is certainly no shortage of power or acceleration as it moves up through the six-speed manual transmission and the road-holding is flawless.
Ford has packed a comprehensive list of safety features into the new Focus, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability programme, traction control and emergency brake assist.
And the test model also featured more advanced safety qualities such as lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, blind spot information system and much more besides.
All in all, the new Focus EcoBoost may feature a small engine, but it is very big on power and performance and all for £22.2k including £3k worth of optional extras.
Ford Focus Estate 1.6 EcoBoost Titanium
Boasting an all new sleek and sporty styling the Ford Focus Estate has just developed the wow factor.
And if you’re not convinced by looks alone then check out its performance.
The test model – the EcoBoost – boasted 150bhp but offers a petrol-powered engine with all the possible acceleration needed whilst combining superb fuel economy (47.1mpg combined) and low carbon emissions (139g/km).
Supplied in candy yellow which means you are guaranteed never to lose this car in a crowded car park, the exterior is instantly eye-catching. The front end is very sleek with a three section grille and neat light clusters.
The rear is more beefy with rugged shoulders and elsewhere there are tinted windows and smart 18-inch alloys.
The boot area is massive and can easily accommodate several larger sized suitcases and, should the need arise, the capacity can be quickly increased thanks to split-folding rear seats.
Once inside, the build quality is apparent at every turn with state-of-the-art technology by the bucket-load.
The multi-function sporty steering wheel houses a number of controls and the list of creature comforts is plentiful including cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, a quick-clear heated screen, start/stop technology, a Sony sound system and plenty more.
The interior is very spacious with ample room for five adults and there are a number of handy storage compartments throughout.
Fitted with a six-speed manual transmission, one of the first driving features to really impress was the incredibly smooth acceleration and constant power on demand. In fact, on one occasion I had to double check it was a 1.6-litre engine.
The road-holding was exceptional and cabin noise almost non-existent – even at higher speeds and on rougher road surfaces.
All-round visibility was excellent and Ford has certainly sorted that “plastic interior” feel that I felt often let the branding down. The new models boast high quality materials with flashes of colour-contrasting strips around the doors and gear-stick.
Safety features are very comprehensive and the test model boasted an optional extra of Ford’s Driver Assistance Pack (£750). This adds active city stop, lane departure warning, lane keeping aid, driver alert, traffic sign recognition (this shows a display of the current speed limit and changes instantly when the limit alters), auto high beam and blind spot monitoring.
I suppose Ford vehicles are never going to be considered cheap and the test car was priced at £20,850 but optional extras added a further £1,645.
But one thing is guaranteed. For that outlay you get a great looking car packed to bursting with top notch features and it will be exceedingly safe to drive while maintaining a real fun factor too.
Ford Focus ECOnetic 1.6 TDCi (DPF) 5dr
The economy, the environment and fuel efficiency of cars are all hot topics these days, so what better time to produce a car that boasts the lowest emission figures in its class?
That’s exactly what Ford has done with its Focus ECOnetic model, but, make no mistake, the performance is as powerful as ever.
With a Green Car of the Year award already under its bonnet, the 1.6-litre engine delivers ample power and performance both in and around town and on the more open road and with its outstanding fuel economy, pit stops are kept to a minimum.
Another bonus is that for a reasonable outlay, you get a highly comfortable vehicle that is jam packed with technology and classy specifications.
For example, there are electric windows, air conditioning, powered and heated door mirrors, an excellent sound system, plus plenty more… all as standard.
And the safety features are top notch too.
These include anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, numerous airbags and an immobiliser and anti-theft system for peace of mind.
The Focus has boasted being best UK seller for the last 10 years – in fact, more than one in 20 cars sold in the UK is a Focus, which means the company has consistently been at the top of its game. A major attraction to buyers is that the Focus has all the mod cons and gadget-like features to match its rivals, but simplicity and easy-operation is paramount. What you see is what you get, and believe me, it’s a great deal for the price tag.
Ford has a reputation for evolving and the latest aerodynamic ECOnetic is yet another revolution in the right direction.