The Ford Focus has been Britain’s best-selling car for each of the ten years since it went into production.

Now the second generation Ford Focus is back with a fresh new look to complement its formidable ability as a multi-ability driver’s car.

Web Editor Adrian Higgins drove the Ford Focus on UK streets for the first time.

If you’re looking for a five door family hatchback the chances are you’ve considered a Ford Focus.

The figures speak for themselves.

View more images of the all-new Ford Focus

For every 20 cars sold in the UK one will be a Focus, more than a million have found homes in the UK since it was launched ten years ago and a further four million have been bought globally.

And then there’s the fact it has outsold every other car in the UK every year since 1998.

So why is that?

Well when we drove the car on the Ford Focus European Launch in the south of France it simply underlined the fact this practical, mass-selling, ubiquitous car is fantastic to drive.

That was in part thanks to a route which coupled jaw-dropping scenery with a series of hairpins any car enthusiast would love to tackle and a revised Ford Focus living up to its starring role.

It was no different when we swapped the Riviera for Surrey at the UK launch.

Driver confidence

OK the view had changed a bit, but we were immediately reminded what a sure-footed, engaging car this is to drive, superb through corners and a model which fills the driver with well-placed confidence.

It really is a very accomplished car and one which does not demand a trade-off in ride comfort.

We took stints as front and rear passengers and experienced comfort you would expect from a more luxury car. This is partly down to improved torsional stiffness over the outgoing model.

However, Ford Focus drivers will probably have already noticed the biggest change to the car is its looks, which have now been brought into line with new family member the Ford S-Max and the 2007 Ford Mondeo.

This means a more dynamic bonnet shape, enlarged lower grille and new eye-catching headlamps as well as a new rear spoiler which better reflects this is a practical car as well as a fun one.

Smart and Stylish

The car looks smart and stylish with large speedo and rev dials flanking the smaller temperature and oil gauge while other information is displayed digitally between.

The five-door hatchback might be the most familiar to UK motorists but there is also the option of three- and four-door door versions and five-door estate with a sporty ST model and updated Ford Focus coupe-cabriolet to come.

We drove the load-lugging estate and still found it fun to drive in addition to boasting additional practicality.

And as Britain’s most popular car there is a considerable range of engines to choose from depending on budget, priorities and usage.

The range starts with 1.4-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines with 2.5-litre Ford Focus ST models at the top and 2-litre petrol and diesel models in between.

Dizzying range

Three- and five-door models provide a dizzying range of performance, practicality and economy.

Want performance? The 2.5-litre Ford Focus ST promises a 6.8 seconds 0-62mph time, a top speed of 150mph, average return of 30.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 224g/km – which currently place it in car tax band F with a £205 annual bill.

Want to shift stuff? We tried out the 2-litre diesel estate with its 9.5 seconds 0-62mph time, top speed of 126mph, average return of 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 147g/km – which place it in car tax band C with a £115 annual bill.

Want the cheapest motoring? Wait for the more environmentally-friendly 1.6-litre Econetic model which will deliver a 0-62mph time of 12.6 seconds, top speed of 112mph; average return of 65.6mph and CO2 emissions of 114g/km which place it in car tax band B and a £35 annual bill.

It will also be exempt from the London Congestion Charge when new rules are introduced in October.

The Ford Focus provides buyers with a huge range of choice and that is extended to the range of equipment available through the four specification levels. These are Studio, Style, Zetec and Titanium.

Ford Easy Fuel

The outgoing Ford Focus earned a maximum five stars following EuroNCAP crash test results and the new model boasts the addition of drivers’ aid electronic stability programme, which helps the motorist retain control of the car, from the entry-level upwards.

The Studio trim also incorporates the addition of another handy new feature: Ford Easy Fuel, which removes the risk of filling up with the wrong fuel, pioneered in the Ford Mondeo.

The Style range adds body-colour handles and mirrors, leather steering wheel, front fog lamps and trip computer.

The Zetec trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, body colour rear spoiler, sports suspension and seats and heated windscreen.

The range-topping Titanium trim comes complete with chrome grille, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, leather gear knob and cooled glove box.

Other features which can be added include sat-nav, cruise control, folding mirrors and metallic paint.

Ford has kept all that was good with the Focus and made well-received improvements to a few key areas to raise the overall appeal – in particular, it is now a better-looking car.

And it’s just made it that bit more difficult for the competition to keep up.

Key facts

Models tested: Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi 115PS; Ford Focus TDCi 2.0 135PS; Ford Focus Estate 2.0 TDCi 135PS
On the road price: £17,545; £18,295; £19,145
Price range: £11,945 – £20.595
Date tested: 14th February 2008
Road tester: Adrian Higgins