It's not easy being a mid-size family hatch. One minute you're the
shiny new kid on the block, next minute you've been knocked off the front pages
by a glut of younger, techier rivals.
And so it is for the MkIII Ford Focus. Launched fewer than four
years ago, it has since been attacked by the MkVII VW Golf (not to mention all
its MQB clones), Peugeot 308 and Mazda 3, along with Nissan's new Qashqai and a
bunch more upstarts.
Not that the Focus has fallen out of favour with you lot: in 2013, the Focus was Britain's second best-selling car, beaten only by little brother Fiesta.
But clearly erring on the side of caution, Ford has facelifted the Focus, treating it a pointier new face - including a ‘Fiesta-style' grille definitely not appropriated from a parts bin the the Gaydon area - along with new tech and new engines.
Most exciting of these is a new 1.5-litre version of Ford's lovely EcoBoost petrol, available for the first time in Europe in two power-flavours: 148bhp and 178bhp. There's also an even-cleaner version of the 1.0 Ecoboost three-pot, now emitting under 100g/km of CO2.
The 1.5 and 2.0 litre TDCi engines are more frugal, too: you'll go as much as 19 per cent further on a tank of diesel, says Ford.
Replacing the current Focus's button-fest of a dash is Ford's new ‘SYNC 2' infotainment system, featuring an eight-inch colour touchscreen and voice control. Apparently if you shout ‘I'm hungry!' at this system, it'll bring up a list of nearby restaurants. Producing a bacon sandwich from the centre console would be even better, Ford.
There's more fresh tech, in the shape of an automatic parking assistant and a ‘collision assist' system which, thankfully, doesn't assist you with collisions but rather prevents shunts by scanning the road ahead and braking if necessary.
There are mild chassis revisions, too: the Focus's suspension bushes are stiffer, the shock absorbers retuned and the power steering altered to ‘make the driver feel even more connected to the road'.
The Mk3.5 Focus will go on sale in the UK later this year. Expect prices to remain similar to the current car.
What do you make of that new face?