At last: a Ford Focus with a decent driving position
First off, I’ll hand over to my learned colleague and TopGear magazine’s genius cover designer, Andy Franklin. He’s been looking after the Focus while I borrowed his Vauxhall Combo Life van for a spot of house-moving. What a lifesaver that was. So, over to Andrew’s excellent thoughts. Did I mention he’s also got great hair?
“When Ollie asked if we could trade cars for a week while he moved house I can’t say I was exactly looking forward to it. But I stand completely corrected. For a basic model this Mk4 Focus ‘Style’ is one brilliant car. First of all it feels low-slung, like a coupe rather than a hatch. Secondly, the steering reminded me of an old 2006 Focus ST I ran many years back. Just goes to show how technology moves on and yet traits get passed down the generations. Never judge a book by its cover.”
Let’s unpack a detail Andy’s spotted there – the driving position. In the new Focus – at last – you sit down in the car, not on it perched oddly high. Previous versions of the Focus – even the sportier ST and RS hatches, sat their driver up in the air like a toddler in a high-chair.
Now, don’t get me wrong – the new one is hardly a low-slung LaFerrari-cum-Atom experience. But if you hop between it and say, an Astra or a Golf, you no longer get woozy from altitude sickness. Yes, you can jack the seat up for a pseudo-crossover viewpoint, but if you pump the lever the other way and get the chair right down on its mountings, there’s a respectably low-set, semi straight-legged pose to be found. I get out of this car aching less after a two-hour stint than, say, a Skoda Octavia – the darling of minicabbers across the continent.
Plenty of steering wheel adjustment too, and the seat itself, while the flattest and most cheaply upholstered that you’ll possibly find in a Focus, is superbly comfortable. It reminds me of a Volvo seat from the 1990. Except it’s been exposed to fewer farts. And there’s no higher compliment for comfort than that. Squidgy tyres and squidgy seats to match. As you can tell, I’ve not just warmed to this car – I think it might be the single most satisfying new car I’ve ever lived with. Less truly is more. Still, wouldn’t mind cruise control now and again.