The Ford Focus is a great-handling family hatchback that also matches is rivals on interior quality and cabin space

The Ford Focus is one of the mainstays of the British car market, and it’s easy to see why. The well-judged chassis delivers a composed, comfortable and enjoyable drive on UK roads, with excellent body control and responsive steering. The engines – particularly the 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125PS version – are punchy enough, but also refined. And the latest Mk4 Focus has better cabin space than its predecessors, quality that’s pretty much a match for the best in class. Keen pricing and finance offers seal the deal, and the latest Focus should be on the shortlist of any buyer looking for a new hatchback.

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Ford Focus Titanium 1.0 125 EcoBoost

2018 was an important year for the the Ford Focus, with the arrival of the new fourth-generation model. And while we'll have to wait a little longer for the sporty ST and RS versions, the standard hatchback for sale now keeps up tradition by being an enjoyable compact hatchback to drive.

That's important, because it has always been the forte of the Focus, and it helps the car stand out in a class that's more competitive than ever. As well as taking on long-established rivals such as the VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic, the Focus has to challenge cars that have raised their game, such as the Renault Megane, Peugeot 308 and SEAT Leon. Then there's the spacious Skoda Octavia, the Mazda 3, Kia Ceed and Hyundai i30, while upmarket models such as the Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 Sportback are all on Ford's radar, too.

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The big changes for the Focus Mk4 are improvements in cabin space and efficiency. The overall look of the latest Focus blends parts of the outgoing car with design elements from the smaller Fiesta. The cab is set back and quite low - it's similar in silhouette to the latest Mercedes A-Class, but has all of Ford's current design cues on display.

There's a longer wheelbase, which improves space inside, while the cabin has been overhauled to create more room, too. The current Focus has a far bigger boot than the previous generation as a result, while an electric parking brake and revised cockpit means the front seats feel spacious, and the rear has decent legroom, too. As always, the Focus comes as either a five-door hatchback or a more practical estate.

Power comes from either 1.0 and 1.5 EcoBoost petrols or 1.5 and 2.0 EcoBlue diesels, and all cars come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while some engines are offered with an eight-speed auto as an option. All Focus models are front-wheel drive. In the future, a 48-volt 'mild hybrid' Focus will appear, although currently there are no plans to replace the previous generation Focus Electric.

There are a broad range of Focus models available in showrooms now, starting with the basic Style, then running through Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X, ST-Line, ST-Line X, Vignale and even the off-road inspired Focus Active, which arrives later in 2019. As already mentioned, there will be a Focus ST hot hatchback joining the range at a later date, and don't bet against a super-fast Focus RS joining the line up later still, as the last model was a popular machine.

Even Style cars get 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, auto lights, air-con and remote central locking, while a small 4.2-inch colour display with DAB radio is fitted.

Move up to Zetec and you get a 6.5-inch touchscreen display that features Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity. Also included is a Quickclear heated windscreen, as well as cruise control, and leather trim on the steering wheel and armrest.

For sporty ST-Line models, there are gunmetal grey 17-inch alloy wheels sportier front and rear bumpers, a keyless start button, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and alloy pedals. The X pack adds a bigger eight-inch SYNC 3 screen and also has bigger 18-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, electric adjustment on the driver’s seat, privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

4.5
4.5/5
In either of its two suspension configurations, the Focus is more fun than a family car has any right to be
4
4/5
Petrol engines are efficient enough to recommend them over diesel, unless you’re focused on sub-100g/km emissions
4
4/5
Conservative design belies a considerable amount of tech, including slick SYNC 3 infotainment on most versions
4.3
4.3/5
Plenty of space in the cabin for a family with fast-growing children - and the boot should be just about big enough to cope with their luggage too
4
4/5
New platform brings some risk but the engine line-up features some proven motors. Warranty is slightly above average

Titanium is aimed at those who want loads of kit but without the sharper edge of the ST-Line cars. As such, it includes many of the ST-Line X’s features, such as the rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors and larger screen, but it stays on 16-inch alloys. It also gets dual-zone climate control and powered folding door mirrors with puddle lights. Titanium X moves the wheel size up to 17 inches and brings the electric adjustment on the driver’s seat, part-leather upholstery.

The range-topping Vignale features 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, full leather seat trim and a B&O stereo set-up that also brings active noise cancellation. The Focus Vignale will offer the same ‘special Ford relationship’ as the other models with that trim level (like the Mondeo and S-MAX Vignales), including a free wash for the your car when you’re able to pop into the dealer.

Prices for the latest Focus remain competitive, with the Style model kicking off the range at around £18,500, with the Zetec costing about £1,000 more when fitted with the same engine (although not all engines are offered in all tims. We think Zetec offers better overall value, too. You then have a choice of trim grades at the same price, as ST-Line, Titanium and Active are all around £1,750 more than Zetec, while Vignale cars are a hefty £4,900 more than Titanium models.

Last updated: 
17 Jan, 2019