The Focus is one of the most fun family cars to drive and comes with a huge range of frugal engines – just avoid the uneconomical 1.6-litre petrols
The Focus is offered with a broad selection of petrol and diesel engines and even as a fully electric model. Both manual and automatic gearboxes are available, too, and every Focus comes with start/stop as standard to help you save fuel in traffic jams.
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost models are smooth, fairly fast and efficient – especially around town. Unfortunately, they aren’t perfect. The cheapest 100hp versions rasp rather noisily if you accelerate hard and matching their claimed 65.6mpg fuel economy figure is a near-impossible task.
The 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine is the pick of the petrol range and the best choice if your commute takes in a mix of town and country driving. Even the most basic 150hp model feels far more spritely than its 1.0-litre siblings and, in the real world, can return similar fuel economy.
Entry-level models are fitted with an old-fashioned 1.6-litre petrol engine with either 85 or 105hp. They might be cheap, but they’re certainly not cheerful – neither can return more than 50mpg and accelerating from 0-62mph takes 14.9 and 12.3 seconds respectively. As a result, they are best avoided.
More powerful 125hp versions come with a six-speed manual gearbox in place of the 100hp car’s five-speed ‘box, making them quieter on the motorway and smoother around town. their claimed 60.1mpg figure is still a little far-fetched, however – drive carefully and they’ll return a figure in the mid fifties.
Don't be tempted to save money by buying one of the 1.6-litre petrols – they're thirsty and incredibly slow
If you do lots of motorway miles then go for one of the Focus’ diesel engines. The entry-level 95hp 1.5-litre diesel model is both fast enough and frugal enough to make it easy to ignore the more powerful 120hp 1.5-litre and larger 2.0-litre versions. In the real world it won’t return Ford’s claimed 74.3mpg figure but you can expect it to manage an impressive 62mpg with relative ease.
Most mid-range Focus models are offered with the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a slick twin-clutch automatic that’ll add £1,250 to the price. The manual will eke out a little more fuel economy than its automatic counterpart but the optional auto ‘box really helps take the stress out of long drives and tiring traffic jams.
The Focus feels sportier to drive than any other small family hatchback. It corners sharply and grips well without leaning excessively or bouncing over deep potholes and badly rutted roads.
If you go for the optional 18-inch alloy wheels – offered on sporty ST-Line and range-topping Titanium X models – you’ll find the Focus feels a touch firmer and less able to cope with poorly maintained roads. For a more comfortable ride, stick with the standard 16 or 17-inch wheels.
The reasonably light steering, well-placed pedals and fairly wide rear windscreen help make parking a breeze. If the thought of parallel parking doesn’t fill you with glee then go for a Titanium model with its rear parking sensors, or even a Titanium X model which can park itself.
The Ford Focus received an impressive five-star safety rating in the 2012 Euro NCAP test. It’s worth noting the testing procedures have become significantly stricter since, but the Focus is still a safe small family car. Titanium models have automatic emergency braking that makes them safer than the rest of the range.