The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Ford Focus may have been around for a while now, but it still delivers a first-rate drive and good practicality. However, an all-new version is imminent.
Reasons to buy:
- Quality interior
- Great ride and handling
- Low running costs
How good does it look?
When a car like the Ford Focus is so common on British roads, it’s easy to overlook how handsomely designed it is. Critics will still say it lacks the original Focus’ flair and originality, but times have moved on. The 2008 facelift saw new lights – most noticeably the Ford Mondeo-like headlamps and new bumpers. The small changes add up to more than the sum of their parts and it still cuts quite a dash on the roads.
What's the interior like?
The 2008 facelift saw a raft of changes to the cabin, but the same basic layout remained. New materials used were far better than before, as was the way it was assembled. As a result it’s now among the best quality its class – although not quite up there with the Volkswagen Golf. The instrument cluster has been redesigned and now has a red glow at night and an uprated centre console is available on the high-end models. Sportier models also get a ‘Ford Power’ start button.
How practical is it?
The Ford Focus has proven to be practical enough for most owners. The rear hatch lifts to reveal between 282 and 396 litres of space depending on whether a full size spare wheel, a space saver or tyre repair kit is fitted. With the seats folded there’s up to 1,258 litres of room although it’s disappointing to note the seats don’t fold fully flat. In the cabin there’s plenty of room for four occupants, although it’s a bit of a squeeze for five. Ford’s Easyfuel system is fitted, which prevents the driver putting diesel in a petrol car, or vice versa.
What's it like to drive?
Despite the obvious family car qualities, the Ford Focus is, and always has been an excellent drivers’ car. Responsive steering is welcome at speed, but is light enough to make a run to the shops easy. The chassis is superbly resolved, offering a good blend of feedback and poise through the bends and decent ride comfort; although drivers looking for a supple ride ought to steer clear of the Sport Pack, which offers firmer suspension and larger wheels. Changes have been made to the diesel models, to isolate the occupants from diesel clatter and vibration.
How powerful is it?
Diesel choices include three 1.6-litre lumps and a 2.0-litre, while petrol buyers can enjoy a pair of 1.6-litres, a 1.8-litre engine and a range topping 2.0-litre mill. The 2.0-litre diesel engine we tested develops 136bhp which is good for a swift 9.3 second 0-62mph time and a 126mph maximum. Two versions of the 90bhp, ‘Econetic’ 1.6-litre diesel, reach 62mph in 12.6 seconds. The 110bhp version cuts this time to 10.9 seconds. The 1.6-litre petrol engines produce either 100 or 115bhp; good for 11.9 and 10.8 second 0-62mph times respectively. The 125bhp 1.8 cuts this to 10.3 seconds and the 145bhp 2.0-litre’s time is 9.2 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
How reliable is it?
Despite the numbers of Ford Focus’ on the road, there are few recurring problems. The car feels as well built as the best in class.
How safe is it?
The Ford Focus scored a maximum five-star rating in the EuroNCAP crash test programme. Standard kit includes Ford’s Intelligent Protection System which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), brake assist, electronic stabilty programme (ESP), traction control and driver, passenger and side airbags (all but the entry-level Studio get curtain ‘bags).
How much equipment do I get?
The entry-level Studio features electric door mirrors, Easyfuel, auxiliary audio socket, electric front windows and remote central locking. Style adds air-con, trip computer and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, while the Econetic gets a host of fuel-saving tweaks. Zetec trim adds alloys, a spoiler, sporty seats, heated windscreen and sports-tuned suspension, while Zetec-S adds 17-inch alloys, a host of sporty addenda inside and out. Titanium receives a digital radio, cruise control, electric rear windows and automatic headlights and wipers.
The Ford Focus is the everyman car. As classless as the original MINI, and built as well as the very best from Germany. But it’s the way it drives that really impresses. Its clever ‘Control Blade’ rear suspension might be expensive to develop and build, but it makes a huge difference.