New Ford Focus Review

There’s an incredible amount of clever technology in the new Ford Focus.

For example, there’s Adaptive Cruise Control to maintain your distance from the vehicle in front, but it can also bring the car to a stop in traffic and pull away again when it starts moving.

Using a forward-facing camera it can monitor overhead gantries and road-side signs for speed limit changes and alter the vehicle’s speed to match, while Lane Centring helps drivers stay centred within their lane by applying subtle steering inputs.

A head-up display keeps your current speed, the posted speed limit, navigation instructions and other info permanently in view, while the new Active Park Assist 2 automates both parallel and perpendicular parking, even changing gears for you on automatic models.

Plus there’s a sizeable array of safety systems such as Pre-Collision Assist that can now detect pedestrians and cyclists, Evasive Steering Assist to help steer around an obstacle, blind spot monitoring and cross traffic alert, which can now brake automatically to avoid a collision.

And so the list goes on.  The Adaptive Front Lighting System can pre-emptively alter the beam pattern before entering a corner by reading the road markings up to 65 metres ahead, while its road sign recognition allows it to widen the beam when approaching junctions and roundabouts to highlight hazards from the side.

Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system offers wireless charging for compatible devices, plus FordPass Connect that uses a built-in modem to provide not just a WiFi hotspot but also functions such as vehicle location, door lock status, SOS, and remote start in some markets.

That’s quite a roster.  Yet still we haven’t mentioned the cylinder deactivation on the three-pot EcoBoost engines, the selectable drive modes, or the Continuously Controlled Damping system.

Clearly, then, this new Focus is a very different beast to the one that went before it.

For one thing, it’s more grown-up.  The company’s designers say they were aiming for a matured, more premium design, so it’s perhaps no surprise that from some angles – particularly the rear – it’s a little reminiscent of a Mercedes A-Class in its lines.

The exaggerated slashes of the Focus Mk I’s interior are now a distant memory, replaced by a far more civilised cabin, although it’s a shame Ford hasn’t quite mastered the use of tactile materials – in some areas, the hard plastic grates a little.

Still, there are some neat touches such as the push-and-slide adjustable cupholders in the centre console, the cool ice-blue illumination, and the super-clear instruments, plus such a wide range of adjustment in the driving position that owners of all sizes should be able to find their spot.

To start with, the new Focus is available with either a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine or 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel.  The petrol is offered in power outputs of 85, 100 or 125ps, the most powerful of which hits 0-62mph in 10 seconds and can achieve up to 58.9 mpg on the WLTP-certified combined cycle.

The 1.5-litre diesel comes in 95 and 120ps guises and is said to achieve up to 78.5 mpg – although at the end of a week’s testing, we’d notched up a fairly consistent 56.5 mpg.

As standard, it’s mated to a six-speed manual with a light and easy-going shift action, although we noticed a curious flat-spot in first gear (presumably a deliberate torque reduction to preserve the transmission) that made pulling out on to a busy roundabout trickier than it should be.

Away from first, the 120ps diesel is pleasingly punchy even with only a handful of revs on the clock, but it was rather noisy at idle, clattering and vibrating away to itself even when fully warmed up.  Thankfully, once on the move it settles down nicely.

That’s just as well, because the new Focus is remarkably quiet.  Wind noise is almost entirely absent, even over the door mirrors at motorway speeds, while road and tyre noise from our ST-Line’s 17-inch wheels was surprisingly well insulated.

The suspension, too, went about its business without announcing its endeavours to those in the cabin, and struck what seemed to us to be the perfect balance between comfort and composure.

There’s that typical Ford trait of offering a sense of engagement to those that want it, without troubling the less enthusiastic buyers who don’t, but even an average driver will be aware that the Focus is easy to place on the road.

Worth mentioning is that ST-Line variants sit 10mm lower, while some of the lesser models sacrifice Ford’s latest independent suspension set-up for a cheaper twist-beam arrangement, so just be sure what you’re ordering.

The new Focus is available in Style, Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale grades to begin with, in both five-door hatchback and estate body-styles, priced from £17,930.

While some of the new techie features might require a casual dip into the extensive options list, most are sensibly priced, although even the entry-level Style has goodies such as Lane Keeping Aid and automatic headlights as standard.

As Helmut Reder, Ford’s Global Vehicle Line Director for the Focus segment says, “driving hasn’t become any less demanding – we just become more accustomed to pressure.”

This new Focus, the most technologically advanced in its 20-year history, is Ford’s way of making our daily lives just that little bit easier.

Given how well it drives, there’s a chance it might make it a little more fun, too.

Tester’s Notes

Entry-level Price£17,930Price as tested£24,600
Engine1.5-litre 4-cyl turbodieselTransmission6-speed manual
0-6210.0 secsTop speed122 mph
Economy78.5 mpgCO293 g/km
Dimensions4378 x 1848 x 1452 (LxWxH)Kerb Weight1363 kg