The Ford Focus is superb to drive, offers good space and has the latest driving technology onboard. Its infotainment and interior quality are the only downsides.
If ever there was a reason to shun the SUV craze and drive a family hatchback instead, it’s the Ford Focus. In fact, we love it so much we gave it our Family Award in the 2018 carwow awards. It’s up against a long list of strong alternatives, from the Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Astra, to the Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
In terms of size, the Ford Focus sits neatly between the smaller Ford Fiesta and large Ford Mondeo. There’s also an estate version of the Ford Focus if you need even more space and practicality, and keen drivers will be catered for later down the line with sporty Focus ST and Focus RS models likely to join the range.
The new Ford Focus’s interior is pleasant to look at, with a central band of shiny trim on the dashboard topped with a soft-touch section that spreads as far as the top of the door cards. The buttons for the Focus’s climate control and other functions are all large and well labelled so are easy to hit.
Entry-level Ford Focus Style models get a modest 4.2-inch colour display, Bluetooth, DAB radio and a couple of USB ports. Next-up Zetec models come with a larger 6.5-inch screen that sits atop the car’s dash, and also adds voice recognition technology, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring. The touchscreen is responsive and bright, but the onscreen graphics aren’t quite as sharp as in, say, an Audi or Mercedes and the general menu structure isn’t quite as intuitive, either.
From ST-Line X models all the way to the range-topping Vignale model the screen size increases to 8.0-inches and sat-nav is thrown in, although it’s essentially the same basic menu layout. Also added from ST-Line X is a 4.3-inch colour instrument cluster screen for clearer driving information on the move. A wireless smartphone charging pad can be added to all but entry-level models for relatively little money, too.
Two tall adults will have no problems with the amount of leg room and head room around the Ford Focus’s front seats, while the driver gets a decent amount of manual seat and steering wheel adjustment, as well as manual lumbar adjustment as standard. In terms of practicality, the Focus betters almost all alternatives for space in the back – save an Octavia. Two adults will sit behind the two in the front quite happily.
Ford has done it again: the Focus is superb to drive, is now filled with an impressive level of tech and safety kit and offers good space for families
Surprise, surprise, the Ford Focus’s boot is dwarfed by a Skoda Octavia’s, but then so are the boots of every other family car. However, there is good news. At 375 litres, Focus’s boot space is actually slightly larger than that of an Audi A3 or Mercedes A-Class.
Ford’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is available in no less than three power outputs (85, 100 and 120hp), while its three-cylinder 1.5 petrol comes in 150 and 182hp forms. Then there’s a four-cylinder 1.5 diesel available in 95 and 120hp power outputs, and lastly, a 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces 150hp.
Our experience of the Ford Focus’s 125hp 1.0-litre petrol suggests that’ll be the engine to go for. It’ll never feel off the pace and will be cheaper to buy and run. That said, if you’re constantly slogging up and down the motorway, then one of the diesels will be a far better bet in the long run. In particular, the 120hp 1.5 diesel will have all the punch you need and comfortably achieve 60mpg.
Driving the Focus is a joy, especially with more advanced rear suspension fitted. In fact, we think it’s the best family car to drive full stop. Its steering feels natural, the car’s body control is great and the car manages to remain composed through corners no matter what you throw at it. ST-Line cars also benefit from sportier suspension that has been lowered slightly for even better control through tight bends, but with no detriment to the Focus’s comfortable ride.
Overall then, the Ford Focus does very little wrong and should be at the top of your shortlist when buying a family hatchback. For a more detailed look at the Focus, read on for our interior, practicality and driving sections.