Ford Focus Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Saturday 10th December
Car Review

Ford Focus review

£20,460 - £34,835
810
Published: 15 Jul 2022
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Our most recent experience has been in the 1.0-litre EcoBoost hybrid, and it’s the powertrain we’d recommend, so that’s the one we’ll focus on here. We previously noted there are two engines, either 123bhp or 153bhp, and while both are capable enough, if it was our decision we’d go for the latter for the increased power and torque – 125lb ft plays 140lb ft respectively – for not a lot more cash.

Cruising around town is a pleasant enough experience: quiet, refined and eager to please thanks to the starter/generator motor and 48-volt battery, which helps to smooth out any turbo lag when accelerating away from the lights. Clever tech also switches off the engine (even with the clutch pedal pressed) when coasting at up to 16mph, contributing to greater fuel economy and less time at the petrol station.

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The more powerful hybrid can be had with a six-speed manual as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, and much like in its Fiesta counterpart the manual is very satisfying to use – slightly longer throw, but super smooth action. The 118bhp diesel engine can also be specced with the six-speed manual, or there’s the option of an eight-speed auto.

HOW DOES IT CORNER?

Well, let’s just say it’s an entirely pleasant affair. The steering has well-mapped answers to the movement of your hands, and the car steers through any bend with superb reassurance. It simply follows the front wheels, all the way up to the limit.

We previously mentioned the different suspension set-ups – where the lesser-powered Focuses get torsion beam suspension, those of more powerful ilk get the short and long arm suspension. We’ve tested both in pre-facelift form, and the latter is hugely impressive – while the steering’s weight and gearing and progression aren’t noticeably different, there’s an immediacy and precision, a sense of connection that isn’t there in the torsion setup. It’s as if you’ve taken off a thick pair of gloves. 

Still, the torsion-beam setup is as good as most rival hatches, so don’t be put off. And even the slightly taller Active steers very well indeed. Push this Focus, especially with the lowered ST-line suspension, and you can sense its efforts, feel the road, play little games with its angles. The damping is terrific too, allowing the wheels to breathe over small bumps but keeping the body in check over big crests and dips. We can't see why you'd need to splash out on adaptive damping.

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WHAT’S IT LIKE AS A MOTORWAY CRUISER?

Arguably at its most relaxed – it’s an efficient motorway mileage cruncher, thanks to standard fit cruise control and adjustable speed limiter. Economy suffers slightly but there’s little in the way of wind or road noise, and there’s plenty of space, too – put it this way, it’ll more than manage a family getaway.

All Focuses come with lane keeping aid and lane keeping assist, the former of which applies steering torque to direct you back into the centre of a lane, the latter which warns you through steering wheel vibrations that you’re veering off course.

Any more helpful tech in there?

Ah yes, pre-collision assist is again standard fit, which works by detecting vehicles and pedestrians in the road ahead, or who could cross the vehicle’s path, and warns you of their presence. If there’s no input from you, the system automatically applies the brakes. Handy. Little wonder that the Focus has got a five-star NCAP safety rating – and it feels that way, too.

Additional driver assistance options include adaptive cruise control, speed sign recognition, active park assist and more – they’re worth browsing but aren’t really essential, with the standard fit features plenty for most folk.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid Mhev 155 Titanium X Style 5DR
  • 0-629s
  • CO2
  • BHP155
  • MPG
  • Price£29,235

the cheapest

Ford Focus 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium X Style 5DR
  • 0-6210.2s
  • CO2
  • BHP125
  • MPG
  • Price£27,845
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