When the original Ford Focus was launched back in 1998 car buyers loved its pin-sharp handling and striking design. Buyers loved it so much that Ford shifted over 16 million of the things in the intervening years. So, what do we make of the latest Focus and can it match up to its predecessors? More importantly, can it match up to rivals such as the VW Golf? In this short article we’re going to find out.
A good place to start is the styling. Just by looking at that this car our first impressions is that there seems to be a lot going on. Ford have pushed the A-pillars which means that the bonnet looks a little too long while the large grille at the front certainly won’t cater to everyone’s taste. There’s also a lot of creases and angles too especially around the sides and lower bumper. Overall, we’re not 100% convinced but they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Regardless of how we think the Focus looks, you’re going to be spending most of your time behind the wheel so we should really tell you what it’s like on the inside. Ford’s aim with the Focus’s interior was to make it feel more user friendly and more upmarket than before and we have to say that they’ve pretty much succeeded in this respect. All the materials feel nicely screwed together and although they’re not quite up there with the Volkswagen Golf it’s a very good effort. Controversially, the manual brake leaver has gone in favour of an electronic switch and on automatic models there’s no gear leaver at all. Instead, what you get is a rotary dial like you see on BMW and Jaguar models. Storage space is pretty good although the glovebox and the central armrest could be a little bit larger. There are two nicely sized centrally placed cup holders and deceptively large door bins as well. Overall the driving position is good and everything just feels well placed logically laid out. The SYNC 3 infotainment system remains though in touch-screen form and while the graphics are pretty good it can be a little bid fiddly when you’re trying to use it on the move.
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t hope that Ford had taken across some of the magic from the Ford Fiesta ST into the new Focus. Not least because of the way that the Fiesta handled but simply because it’s a fantastic car to drive. So, have they done this? We’ll the car we’re looking at (the sporty ST Line) for the purpose of this article sits on an all new platform called the C2 platform and has optional rear-link suspension. This is more advanced than the standard twist beam set-up that you find on cheaper models. It’s also got optional adaptive dampers which we touch on a little later. The car we’re looking at for this article is the sportiest Focus currently available and the reason it’s the sportiest is because the suspension is 10mm lower and also specially tuned for giving you a more involving drive. However, whichever Focus you go for you’ll find that it’s really an excellent car out on the road. It strikes a really nice balance between giving good ride comfort and being really fun to drive, which has always been a trait of the Focus. The steering is nicely weighted though you can adjust it in the Drive Mode selector. It’s also quite sharp, so sharp in fact that you’ll find it hard to distinguish between the ST and lower spec trim models. Body control is also excellent and there’s absolutely loads of grip too. There’s so much grip that you’ll have to be going into corners at quite a pace to come unstuck. Unfortunately, the continuously controlled adaptive dampers don’t improve on the excellent ride of the standard suspension and if anything they add more body-roll and make the car feel less stable through corners.
In order to keep up with the competition there are a number of new gadgets in the Ford Focus. The highlights of which include headlights that can adjust their beam to curve around corners, adaptive cruise control and a stop and start function which is helpful when you’re in traffic jams. For the first time (for a Ford that has been sold in Europe) you also get a head-up display. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as good as the Audi system which goes straight on to the windscreen. Instead, you get a kind of Perspex display which pops out of the dashboard. It’s still very clear and the information it displays is nicely presented. It’s also useful when you’re using polarising sunglasses or regular glasses as not every head-up display has this functionality.
For those of you that will want to drive the Focus in and around the city you really do have an able companion as this car is so easy to drive. The visibility is also very good and the turning circle is nice and small. As a bonus there’s an optional automatic parking feature which will not only scan for an available parking space but it will also park the car into it with minimal input from the driver.
The Ford Focus really is good news for families as the space you get in the back of this car is one of its strongest features. Ford have increased the wheelbase by 53mm which means that there’s 50mm of extra knee room and 60mm of extra shoulder room. There’s also a very useable middle seat and because the transmission tunnel is rather flat you’re not going to be fighting over foot space. There’s also some very easy to access IsoFix points on the outer rear seats as well.
If you open up the Focus’s tailgate then you’ll find a good shaped luggage space and minimal intrusion from the wheel housing. With regards to the actual space on offer (375 litres), it’s just shy of what the VW Golf has to offer in five seat mode. However, fold the seats down and the Focus holds the space advantage over the Golf.
Despite the questionable styling there’s a highly accomplished car underneath. It’s got a much better interior than the old car, it has plenty of practicality through to the back seats and the boot, has lots of new kit and the drive is excellent. In fact, this car is quite hard to fault. However, is it as good as the VW Golf? Why not make up your own mind by checking out our used ford focus cars for sale on DesperateSeller.co.uk?