Ford Focus review (2018-2024)

The Ford Focus is a mid-size hatchback or estate that's good value and more fun to drive than most rivals.

Published: 14 December 2022

  • Ford Focus 2018- review

Summary

If you want a mid-size family car but don’t fancy an SUV, few choices are better than the current Ford Focus. Sold new since 2018, an updated version was introduced in 2022 featuring a larger front grille, LED headlights and Ford’s latest infotainment system.

The Focus is available as a hatchback or estate, with petrol or diesel engines and a large selection of trim levels. There’s a high-performance ST model and an SUV-style version called Focus Active with raised suspension and rugged styling. Whichever version you go for, the Focus is good value and enjoyable to drive.

Pros

  • Feels great to drive
  • Lots of models to choose from
  • Good value

Cons

  • Smaller-than-average boot
  • No full-hybrid or electric models
  • Interior not as premium as some rivals
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Interior

Dashboard & tech

Most Focus models have a touchscreen within easy reach of both the driver and a front-seat passenger to use the DAB radio, Bluetooth and sat nav, plus other features. It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity if you prefer to use apps from your phone. 

The touchscreen is easy to use and responds instantly to your touch. Some Focus models also have a digital driver’s display with lots of useful information including sat nav maps.

In models sold from 2018 to 2022, you control the air con and stereo volume using dials and buttons on the dashboard. In models sold from 2022, you control those functions through the infotainment system’s touchscreen or by voice commands.

Comfort

The seats in the Focus are firm but comfortable, so you’re unlikely to feel aches and pains even after a long drive. There's a good range of adjustment for the driver’s seat and the steering wheel, so you should be able to find a position that works well for you. Sportier models have more sculpted seats that hold you in place better around corners while top-spec Vignale models have luxurious-feeling synthetic leather upholstery.

Quality

The interior of the Focus is, if we're honest, a bit dull compared with that of rivals such as the Peugeot 308 and the latest Volkswagen Golf. It doesn't feel as premium inside as those two, either, with a rather functional look and feel in places. Everything feels solid, however, and higher-spec models have a bit more wow factor thanks to their additional features and different trim.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

There’s more passenger space than you might expect in the Focus. Four tall adults fit comfortably and you can even squeeze a fifth to the middle seat, which isn’t always the case in this kind of car. Families with two children should have all the space they need. Getting in is easy for most people because the seats are mounted quite high, although the relatively low roof can make it a bit more difficult for taller people.

Each door has a storage pocket big enough for a drinks bottle, phone and wallet or purse. The glovebox is really only big enough for the owner’s manual but there’s a large compartment under the armrest between the front seats that offers two cupholders. Add in the cubbyhole in front of the gear selector and a sunglasses holder in the roof and you won’t be short of places to stash your odds and ends.

Boot space

Although it gives you more passenger space than some rivals, the Focus give you less boot space than many of them. Its 375-litre capacity is below-average, albeit only by a few litres. The estate version has a much larger 575-litre space, although that too is less than you get with estate versions of the Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf

Despite this, the Focus hatchback should be practical enough for most people's everyday needs. But if you regularly need to carry lots of stuff, the Estate is the better option.

Versatility

The back seats fold down in a 60/40 split, meaning you can lower one part for extra boot space and still have a place for a passenger in the back. In hatchbacks, the seats are released by buttons on the backrest though they don’t fold down level with the boot floor. In estates, you control the back seats with levers in the boot and they do fold level with the boot floor. Once the seats are folded, you’ll get a few dining chairs in the back of the hatchback or bigger stuff like a fridge-freezer in the estate.

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Driving

Driving experience

Where the Focus really stands out is in just how good it feels to drive – agile, responsive and effortless on any type of road. It’s the kind of car you might take for a drive just for the fun of it, especially if you choose a high-performance ST model.

Even long motorway trips are a pleasure because the Focus feels rock-solid at higher speeds and very little noise gets through to the interior.

Performance

Ford uses what it calls EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel engines in the Focus, with several power levels to choose from. They all provide perfectly adequate acceleration, feeling nippy in town and getting up to speed quickly enough on motorway slip roads. The high-performance ST models are very fast indeed.

Manual and automatic gearboxes are available. The manual gear change is light and precise while the automatic gearbox is smooth and responsive.

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

The Focus gives good fuel economy for this type of car. According to official figures, petrol models give 35mpg to 56mpg on average, with the high-performance ST model at low end of that range and the mild-hybrid model at the top.

Diesel models can give 51mpg to 67mpg – again with the ST model at the low end. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions range from 114g/km to 186g/km for petrol models and 121g/km to 126g/km, so the amount of car tax you pay stays within the more-affordable bands. The emissions figures for Estate and Active models are slightly higher because of their different shapes and extra weight, and fuel economy is slightly lower.

Value for money

The Focus is competitively priced against similar mid-size family cars and offers a blend of space, technology and efficiency that gives you great value.

Reliability & Warranty

The Focus is generally a solid and reliable car. As a brand, Ford fared well in the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study, placing well above the industry average and ranking higher than rivals such as Honda, Volkswagen and Renault.

Every Focus comes with a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty from new, which is fairly standard compared to a lot of rivals. That said, several manufacturers will give you more generous cover – Hyundai will cover an i30 for five years and Kia will give you a seven-year warranty on a Ceed.

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Safety

Safety features

The Focus has lots of safety features designed to reduce the chances of an accident. They include automatic emergency braking, speed-limit warning and lane-keeping assist. High-spec models also have adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights. All models have two sets of Isofix child seat mounts on the back seat. 

Safety experts Euro NCAP awarded the Focus a full five-star rating in 2018, scoring it particularly high for protecting both adult and child passengers in an accident.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

Ford has restructured the Focus trim levels several times. On models sold from 2018 to 2022, they are the affordable Zetec, the feature-packed Titanium, the sporty ST-Line, the SUV-like Active, the luxurious Vignale and the high-performance ST. From 2018 to 2020, the low-cost Style was also available.

If you’re looking at a Focus with ‘Edition’ in its name, it has some extra features – for instance, the Zetec doesn’t have sat nav but the Zetec Edition does. Some Titanium, ST-Line and Active models can also be found with what Ford calls the X options pack, which adds luxury features and more-advanced tech. These cars are called Titanium X, ST-Line X and Active X.

On models sold from 2022, Trend replaces Zetec as the most affordable trim level and Vignale has been removed as a standalone trim. Instead, you’ll see cars called Titanium Vignale, ST-Line Vignale and Active Vignale.

All Focus models sold from 2022 have a touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav and smartphone connectivity, air con, cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and front and rear parking sensors.

Models sold from 2018 to 2022 have largely the same equipment packages, though Zetec and Style models aren’t quite as well equipped (they don’t have sat nav, for instance.)

Engines

There are three EcoBoost petrol and two EcoBlue diesel engines available in the Focus. The 1.0-litre petrol engine is available with 83bhp to 153bhp, depending on the model with the 123bhp version being the most popular. Since 2020, you've been able to buy 1.0-litre models have a mild-hybrid system which boosts fuel economy and lowers CO2 emissions.

The 1.5-litre petrol engine is available with 148bhp or 180bhp and the high-performance ST model has a 276 bhp, 2.0-litre engine.

The 1.5-litre diesel engine is available with 93bhp or 118bhp and the 2.0-litre diesel has 148bhp or 187bhp.

Whichever engine you select, you have a choice of manual or automatic gearbox.

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