With 10 million sales since it was launched in 1998, Ford has taken no chances with this latest incarnation of its huge selling and commercially important Focus family hatch.
Building on traditional strengths, this model is safer, looks better, has lower emissions, better fuel economy and is even more comfortable.
Low emission variants are the highlight of the Focus engine range, starting with the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit, offered in 100 or 125PS guises.
This will eventually replace 105 and 125PS variants of the older 1.6-litre Duratec Yi-VCT petrol engine, though for the time being, it continues. Next up is EcoBoost technology in 1.6-litre form, where there’s a choice of either 150 or 180PS outputs.
As for diesel motoring, well, Ford’s offerings include the updated 1.6 and 2.0 litre Duratorq TDCI units. The smaller diesel comes in 95 and 115PS guises, with a revamped combustion system, smarter fuel injection and a turbocharger. The 115PS diesel features a handy overboost, taking peak torque from 270 to 285Nm for effective overtaking and harder acceleration. The 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCI comes in three variants, offering 115, 140 and 163PS and there’s the option on these engines of a clever dual-clutch automatic.
Through the years, the Focus has always catered for drivers who enjoy their motoring and won plaudits for its ride, drive and handling.
To try and move things on again, there’s a whole new electric Power Assist steering system tuned to stay light and easy on the arms in traffic and when parking, but which gives secure, confidence-inspiring feedback at higher speeds.
There’s also a clever feature which Ford call their Advanced Torque Vectoring Control System. This automatically and constantly balances the distribution of torque to the driven front wheels for better grip. Cleverly, the system sends a little bit of braking to the wheel that is on the inside of the corner as you accelerate out. Which means you can turn and accelerate in a corner with greater confidence and grip, valuable when conditions are wet or greasy.
Swooping, coupe-style looks make you forget the lack of a three-door variant in the range and give the car a level of style and design that help it punch above its weight aesthetically.
For Ford, it’s all part of a design ethos which they say makes the car look like it’s moving, even when it’s standing still.
For the rest of us, the time and attention paid to the car’s looks ensures that while this is a volume product, it’s far from bland and a much more interesting car to look at as well as to drive. Bodystyle choice is between 5-door hatch, estate and saloon.
Ford needed to remind buyers just how good its Focus still is - and this third generation model does just that. The smart styling enables it to sit proudly alongside the toughest of its family hatchback rivals, while the cabin now feels a more appealing place to be.
You can even buy one and feel much more that you’re doing your bit for the environment, thanks to the ECOnetic technology.New Car Road Test | Ford Focus range Its biggest problem continues to be its own success, with the issues of depreciation and ubiquity that brings with it. If you don’t care on that score and simply want the best product, then move this sleeker, smarter Focus a couple of notches further up your shopping list.