The new Ford Focus gets chintzier grilles and a wet zone | Top Gear
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The new Ford Focus gets chintzier grilles and a wet zone

Mid-life update for a former UK bestseller brings a gamut of tech and a more practical boot

Published: 14 Oct 2021
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The Ford Focus has traditionally had a very firm grasp on one of the podium spots in Britain’s top ten bestselling cars. But in recent times, not so much; EVs and crossovers are commanding more sales than ever and its grip has weakened. Time for Ford’s bread ‘n’ butter to go a bit more sourdough 'n' tapenade, then. Or something.

Being a mid-life facelift, we’d be remiss if we weren’t to immediately mention its new lights and grille. Because of course it has those; LEDs are now standard all round, the front pair bookending a bold new grille and the rears wearing a new darker tint for extra assertiveness.

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Much like the recently updated Fiesta, the grille morphs depending on your trim level, getting ever chromier with the pounds you spend. The ST-Line’s honeycomb pattern apes that of the full-bore ST hot hatchback, a car whose refresh has seen diesel power dropped. Read more on that right here. Posh Vignale trim remains for the regular Focus, as does the ‘lowrider SUV’ Active version.

The Focus now possesses a ‘largest in segment’ 13.2in central media screen with over the air software upgrades to stop it dating too quickly, but it ought to be in pretty good shape for a while yet: Ford’s latest SYNC 4 infotainment brings cloud-connected sat nav and voice control that’s more natural to use, apparently. Hope for those of us with thick regional accents? Our fingers are firmly crossed. Needless to say, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard fit.

This is the first time a blind-spot assist system has found its way into a Focus, and it’s one which’ll apply corrective steering if you ignore its nagging. If you’re towing a trailer, you can input its length and width to make sure the system incorporates the extra footprint into its monitoring.

We’ve not even got to engines yet. A pair of mild-hybrid petrols get an automatic option for the first time, a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission apparently retaining "typical Focus fun-to-drive" with the help of triple downchanges for overtakes, while the stop/start intervenes from 7mph and below to eke out fuel economy. The 1.0-litre turbo comes with 123 and 153bhp outputs boasting mpg as high as 51.4 and CO2 emissions as low as 116g/km. A six-speed manual remains for those who like things old-school, as does a 118bhp 1.5-litre diesel if you like things really old-school.

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We end, somewhat pertinently, in the boot. The Focus estate now possesses a ‘wet zone’, presumably to keep muddy dogs out of owners’ bad books. But that’s not all.

“During customer research, Ford found that 98 per cent of current Focus wagon owners were not aware of all the existing features such as the stowable tonneau cover and boot floor, remote seat release and floor divider system,” we’re told. So now the estate’s boot comes with its own quick-read guide. Complying with RTFM has never been so easy.

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