Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 80%

Since its launch at the end of 1998 the Ford Focus has been one of the UK’s most popular cars, selling by the bucket-load.

Ford has added a hot ST version, coupe cabriolet, saloon and estate to the range – models which all hold their own against the competitors.

We spent a week with a basic hatchback Ford Focus to see just why nearly 1.2 million have been sold in the UK alone.

1. Looks 8/10

As one of the most recognisable cars on the road, the Ford Focus still stands out as a brilliant design. At the front are the angular-but-elliptical front lights and grille, while the rear is dominated by the long horizontal lights. It’s curvy and straight in equal amounts with wheel arches housing 16-inch alloys.

2. Looks inside 8/10

The Ford Focus’ interior consists of a large amount of dark plastics with faux chrome housing the quality Sony sound system. As with all Fords, the Focus’ dials are simple and easy to understand. In a similar way to its exterior, the inside is safe looking and practical but not boring. The seats are comfortable and give adequate support to the back.

3. Practicality 7/10

Our five-door model could comfortably seat four adults on a long drive but we wouldn’t recommend having a third passenger in the back. The boot is 364 litres which is adequate, but compared to the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Golf (485 and 420 litres respectively) it’s way off its main rivals.

4. Ride and Handling 9/10

The Ford Focus Climate range is fitted with a sports suspension as standard. As a result the ride is quite firm but is still quite comfortable, soaking up bumps fairly easily. It’s only when you hit battered B-roads when the ride starts to become uncomfy. It remains stable under cornering and has loads of grip, more accustomed to a hot hatch than a standard hatchback model.

5. Performance 8/10

Buyers have the choice of four petrol engines from the entry-level 1.4, which produces 79bhp and has a top speed of 102mph to the 2-litre 16 valve block which will hit 128mph. Diesel buyers get the option a 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines producing 89, 112, 119 and 126bhp respectively.

Our model was fitted with a 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 113bhp and 114lb/ft of pulling power. This leads to disappointing performance with the Ford Focus accelerating from 0-60mph in 11 seconds and on to a top speed of 114mph. And it needs to be revved hard to get the most out of the 16 valve engine, but this leads to poor fuel economy. A better option would be a diesel model which – while having similar acceleration and top speed – will have more pulling power and be better for overtaking and hill-climbing, while being more economical. However, the five-speed gearbox on the petrol is incredibly sleek and changing up and down is as smooth as any hatchback in its class.

Buyers wanting performance can seek out the 152mph Focus ST, which is regarded as one of the UK’s best hot hatches.

6. Running Costs 8/10

According to Ford the 1.6-litre diesel is the pick of the range for fuel efficiency managing a combined 60.1mpg, while the least economical is the 2-litre petrol which still boasts a respectable 39.8mpg.

With its revvy 1.6-litre petrol engine, the Ford Focus we tested has a claimed 42.8mpg average. However, after a significant amount of motorway and city driving, the hatchback was averaging 32mpg. It emits 157g/km of carbon dioxide equating to an annual tax bill of £140.

Insurance groups range from group four for the 1.4-litre petrol to group ten for the range-topping diesel. This shouldn’t mean too many problems getting a respectable premium, while servicing takes place every 12,500 miles.

7. Reliability 9/10

The Ford Focus is a well built car full of solid plastic. Mechanically, the Focus’ Zetec engine is solid and reliable. If something does go wrong you’re covered by a three year / 60,000 mile manufacturers’ warranty.

8. Safety 9/10

All models feature driver and passenger airbags, side airbags, ISOFIX child seat mountings and anti-lock brakes as standard. Our model came with six-airbags as standard and also benefited from electronic stability programme and traction control which costs an additional £250. In the EuroNCAP crash test programme, the Ford Focus was awarded five stars.

9. Equipment 7/10

The standard Focus Zetec Climate is fitted with 16-inch alloys, sports suspension, chrome grill and a heated windscreen. Our model was loaded with more than £3,000 of extras including a Sony sound system, rear park assist, privacy glass and the leather styling pack, which cost a whopping £1,600.

10. X-Factor 7/10

It’s Britain’s most popular hatchback for a reason – it’s great to drive, reliable and has a huge range of engines to choose from. But compared to the space-age Honda Civic it’s fairly conservative looking and is a more common sight on British roads than a traffic jam on the M25.

Specification

Model tested: Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec Climate five door
Range price: £11,522 – £18,162
Insurance group range: 4 – 17
Date tested: November 2007
Road tester: Adrian Hearn