Ford's Facelifted Focus: Fatter Fiesta?

What's this then?

Underneath that new front-end treatment, this is the 2nd best-selling car in the UK - Ford's Focus. Seen above in estate form, the facelift is part of a range refresh to bring the new corporate look to the roads.

So what's new?

Well, the key word here is "refinements". The new front-end treatment aside - sadly not really reflected by any subtantial changes at the back - the refreshed Focus is largely the old Focus but tweaked.

Minor updates across the board, including suspension geometry, lighting, interior ergonomics and behavioural changes to the electronic driving assists, are part of a package intended to cement the Focus's position as the best-selling car in the sector while retaining the overall Focus-ness buyers are familiar with.

What powers it?

By and large it's the same range of engines as before, with the 1.0 turbocharged petrol 3 cylinder "EcoBoost", 1.6 litre petrol four pot and 1.6 and 2.0 TDCi diesels all continuing their service to the range.

There's two new engines in the line-up though. The first is a 1.5 litre diesel, available either as a 95hp or 120hp unit and offering up to a 19% improvement in fuel economy over existing, equivalent powered Focuses when combined with next year's automatic gearbox option. There's also a 1.5 litre version of the EcoBoost, in 150hp and 180hp states of tune which, bodystyle depending, should prompt the Focus to 60mph in around 7 seconds.

How much will it cost me?

The facelifted Focus won't go on sale before the back half of 2014 and, though prices haven't yet been announced, there's little reason to suspect it won't simply substitute for the current car in the price lists. This means a range of prices from 14,000 for the base petrol to just over 21,000 for the top spec diesel.

Anything else?

You could previously specify your Mk3 Focus with Active Park Assist that would do you a hands-free parallel parking job. This Mk3.5 adds Perpendicular Parking to the mix, with additional sensors that will allow you to do a neat job of parking between the lines at the supermarket - so now there's no excuse for a shoddy bit of abandon-parking.

Any alternatives?

You can't mention a Ford without mentioning a Vauxhall, so the Astra is the most obvious competitor - though the battle lines are now so well drawn it's unlikely buyers of either will cross-shop. The big gun of the sector though is the Volkswagen Golf, and it's more highly rated than the Focus, if more expensive.

If you fancy something a bit different, Peugeot's newest 308 model or the Renault Megane would be good bets, while the Hyundai i30 and Kia Ceed represent strong choices.

In a line...

The market leader, improved in every department.

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