- Every model is fun to drive
- Great value to buy and own
- Plenty of engine choices
- Less space than some rivals
- Build quality isn’t as good as the competition
- Styling isn’t very exciting
A great choice for solo drivers and families alike, the Ford Focus is a reliable, affordable car. The later versions have improved space and the huge range of specifications means there’s truly something for everyone.
From cheap-to-run, lower-powered models right up to the fast Focus ST and Focus RS, every driver’s needs should be covered. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to petrol and diesel models too.
The Focus is a good-looking car, whichever model you go for. It’s sportier than a Volkswagen Golf with an almost coupe-like body shape, small spoiler at the back and smart alloy wheels on most models.
The latest generation launched in 2018 and features great improvements to styling and interior design. The materials feel higher quality and there’s more technology with a larger touchscreen that offers access to a wide range of infotainment options. It’s also still just as good to drive.
Inside, it’s smart enough with good quality materials and decent visibility. All the key features feel solid and robust, while the seats are comfortable yet hard-wearing, making it perfect for everyday life.
All models have a good level of luxury equipment. For example, every car comes with air con.
An update in 2014 added more equipment including Ford’s excellent SYNC infotainment and navigation system. SYNC is Ford’s own system which allows drivers to perform functions such as controlling music and making phone calls using voice commands. The navigator-spec models also add sat nav to standard trim levels.
There’s plenty of space inside the car with storage areas for odds and ends. The boot will be fine for most people offering 316 litres with the rear seats up or 1,101 litres folded down.
Later versions have had more premium upgrades to the lights, although the bodywork stayed the same. In 2018, the Focus saw further dynamic styling inside and outside, as well as more upmarket materials and the latest tech.
The Focus comes top when it comes to driving fun without compromising on comfort.
The pick of the Focus’ engine range is the 1.0T Ecoboost engine. It's a clever three-cylinder unit with performance that’s better than its small size suggests. The 100 hp (horsepower) version has good enough acceleration for most people, although the 124 hp unit considerably increases the performance level. Both are quiet at motorway speeds.
High-mileage drivers are well served with the quiet and frugal 1.5-litre TDCi models, while the 2.0T Ecoboost is found in ST models with real hatchback performance. Pre-2015 Focus’ were available with older 1.6-litre engines, so the newer models are the ones worth looking for.
The diesels shouldn’t be discounted if you do enough miles to justify one (around 12,000 a year) or regularly use A-roads and motorways.
The sheer number of Focus models around means they tend to offer better value than other family hatchbacks. They usually depreciate more from new, which provides great value for used car buyers.
Running costs are reasonable, especially on cars with the new engines which have fuel-saving technology. Maintenance is low, while insurance and road tax costs are competitive. Servicing is required every 12,000 miles or once a year.
The Focus follows Ford’s reputation for reasonable reliability and if things do go wrong, maintenance prices are generally lower than on comparable cars.
The Focus tends to have average scores in customer satisfaction surveys. Owners praise the way they drive and the equipment levels, but are critical of build quality in some places.
All models have a decent level of safety equipment. The Focus received a full 5-star Euro NCAP crash rating when the car was tested in 2012. The latest generation also received five stars and now includes autonomous emergency braking and more driver assistance systems.
Best for economy - 1.5 TDCi Zetec
Best for families - 1.0T Ecoboost (100 hp) Zetec
Best for fun - 1.0T Ecoboost (124 hp) Zetec-S
Aim for the Ford Focus Zetec as a minimum and the 1.0T EcoBoost. It offers a nice level of safety and luxury equipment with sporty looks. The peppy 100 hp version of this engine will give the best blend of performance and economy.
Zetec models are most common and that’s no surprise with their sportier look, alloy wheels, large eight-inch infotainment touchscreen and heated windscreen. Zetec-S models continue the sports theme, while Titanium and Titanium X models introduce more luxury.