Long-term Review

Living with a... Ford Focus

Phill Tromans swaps an SUV and a pick-up truck for one of Britain’s favourite hatchbacks.

Words by: First published: 9th January 2019
Month One: Welcome
Mileage: 2,250
Costs: £0

The latest addition to the Auto Trader fleet is a common sight on UK roads, and with good reason. The Ford Focus has been one of the country’s best and most popular hatchbacks since it was first introduced way back in 1998.

I have a loose history with it, having run a Focus ST for six months back in the mid-2000s. And my very first car was its predecessor, the Escort, back in my youth.

But that was then. These days, the SUV is king, and I’ve come from a background of much bigger cars. My previous long-termer was the Volkswagen Amarok pick-up truck, and before that I ran a Kia Sportage SUV. So the question is, can a regular hatchback still cut it against the bigger cars? Will I miss the space? Or will I find that small can still be beautiful?

This fourth-generation Focus is an all-new model, launch in mid-2018. Mine is lightly used, with just over 2,000 miles on the clock when it arrived. It’s coated in Race Red paint, and under the bonnet is a 1.5-litre diesel engine, which promises an official combined fuel economy of 80.7mpg (although I’m not expecting to get anywhere near that in the real world).

The trim level is ST-Line, named after the ST badge that adorns several performance Fords. Combined with the Race Red paint name, there’s a definite promise of sportiness, even though this isn’t a hot hatch. The engine develops 120 horsepower, which isn’t likely to blow any socks off, although it should be enough to not feel sluggish. However, the ST-Line package does include stiffer, “sports-tuned” suspension, which should add a bit of zip to the handling and hopefully won’t come at the expense of ride comfort.

The ST-Line trim also means 17-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler, as well as a flat-bottomed steering wheel inside, finished in red stitching (which, for some reason, is meant to be sportier).
Ford Focus
Ford Focus
Other standard features include LED daytime running lights and LED fog lamps, which also act as cornering lights. Turn the wheel past a certain angle and the fog lamp will come on to help light your path around the corner. I’ve also got Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment and navigation system, which features an (optional, for £350) 8.0-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, and comes with DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay for hooking up with my phone. The standard system has a 6.5-inch screen.

There are a few options added on, including rear privacy glass (£250) and the Driver Assistance Pack (£500). This gives me several extra hi-tech systems, including auto high beam and adaptive cruise control, which should prove useful in slow traffic. I’ve also got the Convenience Pack (£750), which gives me a rear-view camera and door edge protectors that fold out of the doors when you open them and stop you dinking the paintwork on a wall that you hadn’t noticed. It also features Active Park Assist, which will take over the steering when parallel parking (if you want it to).

The final option is something called FordPass Connect (£250), which I’ve yet to try. It involves downloading an app and connecting to the car. More on what that is, and how it works, in a future update.

In addition to the options added to the car when it was built, I’ve added a detachable towbar as well, so that I can fix on the Uebler bike rack (£750). As the Focus’ boot is too small to store a bike easily, I need a way of transporting mine around when I’m not riding it.

I picked up the Focus just before Christmas. Soon afterwards, my wife and I went away to see relatives for ten days, loaded with clothes, food and presents. When presented with the Focus and the alternative of my own Skoda Octavia Estate, we chose the Skoda for the extra space. I suspect the real test of how practical the Focus is will come when I have no choice but to use it for ferrying things around.
Ford Focus
Ford Focus
Key specs:
-Model: Ford Focus ST-Line 1.5 TDCI EcoBlue
-List price: £22,850 OTR inc. VAT
-Price as tested: £24,950 OTR inc. VAT
-Engine/gearbox: 1.5-litre turbodiesel, six-speed manual
-Power: 120 horsepower
-Torque: 300Nm
-Top speed: 122mph
-0-62mph: 10.0 seconds
-Economy: 80.7mpg combined (claimed)
-CO2: 93g/km

Everything extra fitted to our long-termer:
-Rear privacy glass (£250)
-Ford Sync3 DAB Navigation System with 8.0-inch touchscreen (£350)
-FordPass Connect (£250)
-Driver Assistance Pack* (£500)
-Convenience Pack** (£750)
-Detachable towbar £TBC

*(Traffic Sign Recognition, Auto High Beam, Adaptive Cruise Control)
**(Rear wide-view camera, door edge protectors, Active Park Assist)

Interested in buying a Ford Focus?