Ford Focus Review

The Ford Focus is one of the UK’s most popular new cars, and combines great value with practicality and an enjoyable driving experience.

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Out of 5


  • One of the best cars in its class to drive
  • Good value
  • Huge array of trim and engine choice


  • Some rivals are more spacious
  • Interior quality lags behind rivals
  • Steep depreciation
Model review

The Ford Focus has been one of the best-selling C-segment cars in the UK ever since its introduction in 1998.

When it first burst on to the scene to replace the iconic Escort, it was met with near-universal praise. Contemporary reports commended its stylish looks, excellent handling and high equipment levels, winning it numerous ‘car of the year’ awards.

Buyers agreed, with four million being sold in the first six years of production, making it Britain’s best-selling car for each of those years. Sales took a bit of a hit though, with the downsizing revolution of the mid-2000s and the introduction of less bold styling on the second-generation car.

Even so, the Focus has been a mainstay at the top of sales charts and continues to be one of the most enjoyable family cars around to drive.

Latest model

The latest fourth-generation Ford Focus arrived on sale in April 2018, with the firm actually cutting its prices next to is predecessor. Vast improvements were also made in terms of on-board technology, with the new Focus being the First Ford model to feature a head-up display, along with tech such as self-parking functionality.

The model arguably looks smarter and more modern than ever, too, while the line-up is the most extensive it’s ever been, with Ford introducing a new, more premium Vignale grade as well as a crossover-styled Active trim. An ST hot hatch also followed, though Ford has signalled that the current generation of Focus will not get a flagship RS model.

Later in 2020, Ford will also introduce new mild-hybrid powertrains, with the tech already been shown in the new Puma crossover.

Value for money

While the latest Focus cost less than £18,000 when Ford introduced it in 2018, the firm has bumped up the prices recently, while also ridding the range of the entry-level grades – meaning the base car is now the Zetec. Prices start from £20,690, though standard equipment is generous, and includes an eight-inch touchscreen, a heated windscreen and 16-inch alloy wheels, though just be aware that both the Vauxhall Astra and Seat Leon are more affordable to buy. Active, Titanium and ST-Line grades also come well-equipped, though high-spec ‘X’ and Vignale grades don’t represent the best value – the latter costing upwards of £30,000.

It’s a great used buy, not least due to the fact that as it’s one of the UK’s most popular new cars, there is a huge number to choose from.

Looks and image

The Focus has always been a stylish choice, but the latest model is arguably one of the most attractive yet – its sleeker and more modern look being an improvement over its predecessor’s somewhat bland styling. The sheer choice on offer means that there will be a Focus to suit most, with each model getting a unique look. From the sportier styling of the ST-Line of ST grades the chunkier and more rugged looks of the Active to the more high-spec look of the Vignale, there has never been more different looks on offer for the Focus.

The interior design has also improved, with the new model getting an eight-inch touchscreen, which is fitted to all versions. While not being the best system in its class, it’s easy to use and quick to respond. Plenty of soft-touch materials are used throughout and it feels more upmarket than the previous Focus, but look closer and there are quite a few low-rent materials being used. A Volkswagen Golf remains the best choice if you’re wanting a more quality product in this hatchback market.

Video review

Space and practicality

 The Focus is by no means the largest car in this class, but it’s easily spacious enough to be utilised as a family hatchback. The 375-litre boot isn’t huge, but it’s competitive with the likes of the VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra and is a practical shape with no intrusions. If you require some extra room, you can also choose the Estate version, which offers a huge 608 litres of load space.

Rear space is also plentiful, with all but the tallest adults likely to have plenty of room in the back, and it’s one of the best cars in its segment for this area.

Safety is also a strong area for the Focus, with the model being awarded a five-star Euro NCAP rating – an 87 per cent child occupant protection rating is particularly impressive. Standard safety kit also includes autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition.


There is certainly no shortage of engines available on the Focus, whether you’re looking for a petrol or a diesel model.

Starting with petrol engines, there’s Ford’s popular 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit, which is available with outputs of either 99bhp or 123bhp. If you fancy a bit more punch, there is a larger 1.5-litre available, which you can choose with either 148bhp or 179bhp. Choose the latter and it’s the quickest Focus available outside of the ST derivatives – accelerating from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds, and reaching a top speed of 138mph.

If you’d prefer a diesel, the line-up kicks off with a 1.5-litre EcoBlue unit, which is available with either 94bhp or 118bhp. The former is very efficient, but offers underwhelming performance. Further up the range there is a 2.0-litre unit, which comes with 148bhp, and delivers a good balance of performance and efficiency. Aside from the entry-level petrol and diesel engines, each model comes with the choice of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox instead.

As with previous generations, the Focus remains fantastic to drive – having balance, well-weighted steering and generally being more fun than a regular five-door hatchback has the right to be.

Running costs

All engines outside of the petrol ST model should prove to be affordable to run, though if you’re looking for the most efficient choice, you should look at the diesel models. Both 1.5-litre diesel versions can manage a claimed 62.8mpg, with CO2 emissions of 118g/kn. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines are also good on fuel, with Ford claiming they’ll return 53.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 120g/km.

Later in 2020, Ford is set to introduce new mild-hybrid versions of the 1.0-litre petrol, which are already available on the new Puma. These new powertrains will be both more efficient and offer improved performance than the existing units.

Things to look out for

While all versions of the current Focus will be covered under manufacturer warranty until 2020 (providing they don’t exceed the 60,000-mile cap), there have been a surprising number of owners that have reported complaints with the latest model. It’s primarily been electrical issues (and they only affect a tiny number of cars), though some owners have reported issues with their eight-speed automatic gearboxes.


The family hatchback class remains a rather competitive one, though given the Ford Focus is one of the UK’s most popular new cars, it’s a good sign. That said, if you’re looking for a model to compare it to, you should consider the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Seat Leon. Other credible models in this class include the Peugeot 308, Honda Civic, Kia Ceed and Mazda3.

Depreciation warning

Given how popular the Focus is, it’s perhaps not surprising that the model hasn’t held its value all that well, as despite it only being on sale for a couple of years used versions are already available for as little as £11,500 - though it’ll be a low-spec Zetec version. ST-Line versions remain the most desirable, though, with these available from around £14,000. As for more rugged Active versions, these can be picked up from around £15,000, while £16,500 buys you a plusher Vignale model.

Trims explained

Few cars are as available with the sheer choice of trim levels as the Focus, with nine different grades to pick from. Equipment highlights and pricing are as follows.


Standard equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, cruise control with a speed limiter, as well as an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You also get air conditioning, a trip computer and a leather steering wheel, while on the safety front it comes with automatic lights, autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist.

Priced from £20,690


In addition to Zetec, this grade brings revised 16-inch alloy wheels, LED rear lights, front and rear parking sensors and automatic wipers. You also get keyless entry and start, satellite navigation and heated front seats.

Priced from £22,690

‘Titanium X’

This model comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, part leather seats, an electric driver’s seat and tinted rear windows.

Priced from £23,940


This high-spec model comes with additional chrome accents, a revised front end, LED headlights and a reversing camera. You also get a B&O premium sound system, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, leather upholstery throughout and park assist.

Priced from £26,730


ST-Line builds on the Zetec, and comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a sportier styling kit, sports suspension and keyless start. You also get a dark headlining, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and polished twin tailpipes.

Priced from £22,940

‘ST-Line X’

This ‘X’ grade brings front and rear parking sensors, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows and red brake callipers. It also gains heated front seats, an electric driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control and satellite navigation.

Priced from £25,190


If you want more rugged looks, choose the Active grade. This adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a rugged styling kit, raised suspension and satellite navigation on top of the Zetec. It also comes with tinted rear windows, new ‘Slippery’ and ‘Trail’ driving modes, along with keyless start.

Priced from £22,940

‘Active X’

This brings larger 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, part leather seats and a panoramic sunroof. You also get dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, heated front seats and an electric driver’s seats.

Priced from £25,230

‘Active X Vignale’

Combining the rugged looks of the Active with the high specification of the Vignale, this trim adds LED headlights, a reversing camera, full leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel. Other features include a head-up display, ambient multi-colour LED lighting and a B&O sound system.

Priced from £27,130


  1. Great to drive
  2. Huge variety of trim and engine choice
  3. Stylish looks
  4. Eight-inch touchscreen fitted as standard
  5. Rugged ‘Active’ grade brings crossover looks
  6. Available as a hatchback or estate
  7. Efficient engines
  8. Average boot space…
  9. But generous rear room
  10. A fantastic family hatch that is deservedly very popular

Alternative models

  • Vauxhall Astra

    The Astra is one of Britain’s most popular hatchbacks, and offers lots of standard kit and great value for money

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  • Volkswagen Golf

    With eight generations to choose from, the Golf remains one of the most popular cars ever in Britain

    View review
  • SEAT Leon

    View review
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