Formula One returns this weekend, and the British carmaker is celebrating
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The Top Gear car review:Ford Focus
For:Ford's improved the weak bits and rekindled some of the famed Focus verve
Against:Those prices are looking pretty ambitious
1.0 EcoBoost 125 Zetec 5dr
What’s this then?
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What we say:
Looks smart, great to drive, plenty of tech on offer. It's not the UK's best selling family hatch by accident
What is it?
The Ford Focus last year got a big overhaul. It’s a mid-life nip and tuck for the third-generation model. From the outside, the changes are slight, with new lights and a glitzier grille pretty much the sum of it (saying that, the effect is pronounced, making it seem prettier and less dumpy). You can’t blame Ford for leaving the design largely untouched, though: this has been the world’s best-selling car for the last two years, and this new one is all set to extend that run.
The Focus has always been a fine car to drive, with a ride and handling balance to shame many cars with much sportier pretensions. When the mk3 launched in 2011, though, it lacked a little of the sparkle that its predecessors had made their own. Happily, though, a few comfort-minded tweaks – lighter steering and more compliance in the suspension – have actually rekindled the fun factor. This is a hatchback for people who like driving, with a keen front end and a rear axle that’s happy to play a role in cornering, too.
Engine wise, there’s a pair of new 1.5-litre diesels which dip below the magic 99g/km mark, and will account for around half of UK sales, Ford’s spunky little 1.0-litre turbo triple taking most of the other half.
There’s also a new 1.5-litre petrol turbo, which comes in 148 and 180bhp guises. It’s a broadly satisfying engine, delivering power with the linearity of something naturally aspirated, but it’s lacking in urge below 2500rpm. That’s one of the prices you pay for downsizing - good job Ford makes nice gearboxes, then.
On the inside
This was an area begging for improvement, the dashboard specifically. Festooned with buttons, it was a bit of an ergonomic headache. Ford has seen to that by introducing a new touchscreen media system. As well as dramatically cutting the button count, its software is also pretty slick, with clear inspiration from the studiously developed systems offered by the big three German premium brands – yes, it’s a Focus with a bit of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz inside it.
Overall, the cabin is spacious, comfortable and well appointed, though prod too many of the plastics and you may pine for a Golf. Nothing offends, though, which is another step on from before.
Pricing is high – opt for the new 180bhp 1.5 petrol and you’re actually well into the Focus ST’s ballpark. Let’s be honest, though, Ford loves a good discount, and you’d be unlucky to pay the list price on a well-specced Focus (steer towards Zetec as a minimum, Titanium if you can). CO2 emissions across the range are low, with some tunes of the 1.0-litre petrol tax exempt. Though while claimed fuel economy figures are strong, you’ll do very, very well to match those attached to any of the Ecoboost petrol engines.