Ford Focus Review
The Ford Focus is an excellent, do-it-all family transporter, and a good choice if you don’t want an SUV.
- Great to drive
- Intuitive and spacious interior
- Wide choice of engines and trims
- Little interior flair
- No premium image
- Average boot space and warranty
Should I buy a Ford Focus?
In the first six months of 2003, Ford sold just under 70,000 Focuses and the car topped the sales charts. Two decades later, the familiar Focus isn’t even in the top 10. That’s partly down to new rivals – you couldn’t buy a Kia Ceed in 2003 for example – but also premium alternatives like the Mercedes A-Class not being too much more expensive on a PCP finance deal. The rise of SUVs plays a part too, with Ford’s own Puma and Kuga also stealing sales from the Focus.
That’s a shame because the current Focus is the best yet, and a great car in many areas. It has a simple-to-use and well-equipped interior, spacious rear seats and a good sized boot. It’s comfortable and quiet, and still has some of the driving sparkle that modern Fords have been known for. It’s roomier than the Puma and easier to park than the Kuga. And, while it doesn’t have bucketloads of kerb appeal, the Focus offers such a variety of trim levels that there’s something to suit every buyer – whether you want crossover ruggedness, luxury features or racetrack-ready performance.
You’ll find pre-facelift and post-facelift Focus models on sale at Motorpoint. Differences between them are ultimately quite small, but you’ll notice that the newest cars have slimmer, pointier headlights and that the Ford badge has grown and now sits on the grille rather than above it. The tail-lights have a tweaked design.
Interior and technology
The Focus plays it safe in terms of interior design, with a large, flat tablet screen taking care of all your infotainment and navigation functions. There are plenty of buttons on the steering wheel and physical controls for the air conditioning, which are very easy to use while you’re driving – and that’s probably a little more important than the slightly cleaner look that some rivals have.
A facelift in 2022 took some of the centre console buttons away, and put the climate controls at the bottom of a freshly upgraded and much larger touchscreen. You may need to test out both systems if you’re looking at a nearly new Focus to decide which you prefer.
This is another area where the current Focus is massively better than its predecessor. Rear-seat space is good for the class, and the boot is pretty much the same size as a Volkswagen Golf’s – decent but not class-leading. You’ll easily get a weekly shop or a pushchair in the boot.
Of course, the Focus also comes as an estate, which has an enormous 593-litre boot that should be more than enough for family holidays or a couple of large dogs. If you need a big boot, the Focus Estate is a better choice than the Kuga.
Engines and performance
The Focus follows a pretty conventional family hatchback formula, and that continues under the bonnet. A range of petrol and diesel engines are available, called EcoBoost and EcoBlue respectively, but there’s only limited electrification. Despite the prominent hybrid badges on mild-hybrid Focuses, these versions of the EcoBoost engine still feel like normal petrol engines and can’t power the car with electricity alone.
A 1.0-litre engine doesn’t sound like it’ll be up to the task of moving a car like the Focus but, with 125hp or 155hp available, it’s powerful enough to offer decent acceleration. Take it steady and you’ll get over 50mpg. A 1.5-litre diesel engine suits high-mileage drivers, while the 2.3-litre petrol engine in the Focus ST is a powerful range-topper that’ll please enthusiasts.
Driving and comfort
The Focus might not offer the luxury trimmings of a Mercedes A-Class, but it still has a slick driving experience that most rivals struggle to match. The steering is quick and accurate, which makes the Focus a joy to drive on a twisty B-road. If you’re after hot hatch thrills, the Ford Focus ST turns the wick up and is one of the finest-driving cars you can buy for a relatively modest budget.
While enthusiasts will seek out the red ST badges and sporty seats that mark it out, most buyers will find the 1.0-litre petrol engine perfectly suited to their needs. The 125hp engine has enough power to keep up with traffic, while the 155hp version feels noticeably punchier. Both the manual and automatic gearboxes are great, but for different reasons – the manual is satisfying to use and makes you feel like a part of the action, while the automatic gearbox’s shifts is barely noticeable.