The new fourth generation Ford Focus tested on Irish roads
Pros: Brilliant drive, added practicality, better technology
Cons: Rivals better finished, no hybrid option
When the first Ford Focus went on sale in 1999, Cher’s “Believe” was dominating the airwaves, Meath were crowned All-Ireland Senior Football Champions and we were all gearing up for the fearsome millennium bug. Two decades later, the Focus remains one of Ireland’s best-selling cars, and a new fourth generation model has just arrived. The Focus is based on a completely new platform, with sharp new styling and improved infotainment, and it goes up against other popular hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf and the forthcoming Toyota Corolla Hybrid. Can the new Focus prove as successful as its predecessor? We spent a week with it on Irish roads recently to find out.
What is it like?
The Focus is based on a new ‘C2’ platform and it looks quite different to the outgoing model. While styling is ultimately subjective, we like how it looks, especially in ST-Line specification. The Focus’ grille and headlights are much more pronounced, and it also has a lengthier bonnet and a side profile. This ST-Line model is brimming with features such as sportier body styling with dual chrome exhausts, optional 18-inch Katana alloy wheels and most notably a vibrant Desert Island Blue paint scheme. Of course, the entry level ZETEC specification Focus is a tamer proposition.
Stepping inside, the Focus has also changed significantly with an integrated tablet-style display on the centre console and sleeker controls. There is more space and leg room for passengers, particularly in the rear seats thanks to a flatter floor and longer platform. Technology has evolved with the addition of a new optional heads up display that projects driving information onto the windscreen and various safety aids such as Adaptive cruise control with Lane Centering and traffic jam stop and go assist. Practicality is strong with plenty of areas to store items throughout the cabin, enough room to seat four tall adults in comfort and a sizeable 375 litre boot.
The driving position is very comfortable too with a suitable range of adjustment available through the seat and steering wheel. Ford’s eight-inch touch screen system is easy to use with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto intergated as standard, although the touch screen isn’t as impressive as the equivalent system in the Volkswagen Golf, and the same can be said for outright interior finish and feel. Other helpful features such as an optional wireless smartphone charger (€180) are definitely worth considering.
The Focus is available with a choice of 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines and 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engines. We drove the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol, which offers 125 horsepower and punchy three-cylinder performance. It’s fun to drive and offers plenty of oomph at higher speeds, with a smooth shifting six-speed manual gearbox. During a week of mixed driving, we achieved 7.3l/100km in fuel economy (circa 39MPG), while annual motor tax is rated at €190. Those seeking superior fuel economy should consider the 1.5-litre diesel model.
The Focus is well-known for being one of the best cars to drive in its class and this continues with the new model. On twisty roads, it turns quickly and holds the road very well. The ST-Line model also adds firmer sports suspension which adds extra agility on tight and twisty roads. The Focus offers strong ride quality too and is refined on the move. The large 18-inch wheels and sports suspension on our test car does add extra noise at motorway speeds, while speed ramps also have to be negotiated with caution.
Prices for the new Ford Focus start from €22,495 for the entry 1.0-litre EcoBoost, and there are three specifications to choose from with Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and a range-topping Vignale model. As standard, the Zetec is equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, front cornering fog lights, a heated windscreen for those frosty mornings, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, cruise control and Ford’s 6.5-inch touch screen system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
ST-Line specification adds 17-inch alloy wheels, LED fog lamps, a rear spoiler, twin exhaust pipe, a sports steering wheel, alluminium pedals, dark roof lining and red stitching and various other sporty upgrades. The high specification Titanium model adds LED rear lights, chrome detailing outside, front and rear parking sensors, heated seats, dual zone air conditioning, ambient lighting, keyless entry and an eight-inch touch screen display.
Carzone verdict: 4.5/5
The new Ford Focus builds on the success of its predecessor, with improved connectivity, technology and style. It also remains the best car to drive in the class thanks to a balanced chassis and well-weighted engines. The Volkswagen Golf still offers a premium advantage, but the Focus remains the leader in terms of performance and drive. Expect the new model to sell like hot cakes.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Ford Focus ST-Line
Prices from: €22,495
Price as tested: €30,830
Annual Road Tax: €190
Engine: 999cc three-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost petrol
Top Speed: 193km/h
0-100km/h: 11.3 seconds
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 316 litres
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