The Ford is available with a myriad of powertrain options, but the biggest decision most buyers will make is whether to go for a diesel or petrol version. Given then fiscal benefits of diesel over the petrol version, we'd advise going for the diesel 1.6 TDCi – if it fits your budget.
If not, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost is economical enough in real world driving to take on over its 1.6-litre sister, even though the diesel version is still the best on paper. You lose some range and outright economy, but the gain in driving pleasure from the smooth and punchy turbocharged petrol will make up for this.
Long-term political questions over diesel usage also potentially make the Ecoboost the less contentious choice – always good for long-term residual values.
The best Ford Focus models
Ford Focus 1.5 (150hp) EcoBoost ST-Line Auto 5dr (Tested: July 2017 By Lawrence Cheung)
Sporty looks without the high-performance running costs
With the fitment of sporty aesthetics and slightly recalibrated suspension, the ST-Line offers a more entertaining drive over the standard models without compromising on running costs or comfort for everyday use.
The 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine replaces the 1.6-litre version and remains available in 150hp and 182hp outputs. This lower-powered version on test would normally offer the best balance of power and economy but the automatic gearbox fitted here dampens the driving experience somewhat.
The 0-62mph time may appear marginally slower on paper – 9.4 seconds over the manual’s 9.1 – but the dulled engine response makes accelerating up to speed noticeably more hard work in everyday use. Slotting the gearlever into the sportier S setting might improve throttle response but this also makes for jerky progress at low speeds.
As a result, the engine works harder for more of the time, leaving that official 46.3mpg figure an achievement far too difficult to obtain; we averaged between 33-35mpg at best over a mixed range of roads. The engine sounds noticeably more gruff too when worked hard, making this Focus less refined than both the old unit and other petrol versions.
Sure enough, if you have to opt for an automatic gearbox, the ST-Line chassis makes for an entertaining way to handle a country lane. We’d just approach the bodykit and sporty aesthetics with caution as you might find the straight-line performance a little underwhelming; opting for the 182hp manual version will bring out the best of this chassis setup.
The optional 18-inch wheels on this test model firm up the ride even further too, but if you are looking for a composed and mildly entertaining hatch dressed with sporty looks, this ST-Line is a fine – if a little expensive - choice.
Ford Focus 1.5 (179hp) EcoBoost Titanium X 5dr (Tested: April 2015)
The consumate all-rounder
Our test car is fitted with a new downsized 1.5-litre petrol engine which replaces the 1.6-litre EcoBoost. Available in two power outputs – 147hp and 179hp – here we’re testing the higher powered version. It’s quick and responsive with 0-62mph dispatched in 8.6 seconds.
The steering is well-weighted too, although lacks feedback. It's a comfortable car and easy to drive. Excellent on the motorway while compact enough to make city driving easy too, the Focus is the consummate all-rounder.
We ran its diesel twin on our long term test fleet and the petrol is certainly the more refined of the two to drive.
Ford Focus 1.5 (118hp) TDCi Titanium X (Tested: December 2014)
A refined and economical cruiser
The car we’re driving here is fitted with an all-new 1.5-litre diesel engine. Replacing the out-going 1.6 version, Ford has done a lot of work here to ensure it’s as powerful and efficient as it can be.
That means while engine size is down, the figures are better than ever, and it’s certainly the one we’d pick if it were our money. A long motorway run is exactly what this version of the Focus is perfectly suited to.
There’s 118hp and 270Nm of torque on offer in each gear, which helps make the most of this clever powerplant and its smooth but urgent power delivery. Another set of changes Ford made were aimed specifically at improving refinement.
What this means is that noise, vibration and harshness have been targeted, and all three have been noticeably improved. It’s particularly quiet when cruising along at 70mph.
Ford Focus 1.0-litre (123hp) EcoBoost Zetec (Tested: May 2015)
Supremely comfortable thanks to soft suspension
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, first seen in the Ford Fiesta a few years ago, has been raking in the awards so it comes as no surprise that the little engine has made appearances across most of the Ford range.
Available in two power outputs, the engine here offers 123hp and 200Nm of torque, which on the road translates to a 0-62mph time of 11.0 seconds. Although that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, the car has plenty of low-down torque meaning pulling out of junctions is no bother at all.
It handles really well too and is supremely comfortable thanks to the soft suspension making easy work of the potholes and bumps in the road. At home in town and competent on the motorway, the car is easy to drive and the steering well-weighted; it does however lack feedback.
Ford Focus 1.5-litre (179hp) EcoBoost Titanium X (Tested: September 2014)
Exceptional on motorways, confident in corners
The car on test is powered by a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine which is replacing the 1.6-litre EcoBoost in early 2015. You can choose between two power outputs; 147hp and 179hp.
This is the higher-powered option which is mated to a new six-speed automatic gearbox and the two work very well together. On the road the Focus is smooth and refined, the revised steering is direct and precise and comfort levels really impress with the car travelling over potholes and bumps in the road with ease.
Exceptional on the motorway and confident in the corners, this Focus doesn’t feel particularly quick on its feet despite the performance credentials and the engine sometimes struggles with particularly challenging hills.
The 1.5-litre petrol is a solid all-rounder ideal for everyday life which only struggles if really pushed.
Ford Focus 1.0-litre (124hp) EcoBoost (Tested: February 2012)
Producing 124hp, the little three-cylinder engine has the same power as the manufacturer’s existing 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, but with a significant reduction in emissions and better economy.
Despite the improved efficiency and drop in CO2 figures, the performance is more than adequate. Lower down the rev range it feels much more like a diesel engine, while in-gear acceleration is also very good, which makes overtaking slower traffic surprisingly easy.
On start-up there is almost no noise whatsoever. Not until you push the car to does the engine sound begin to intrude into the cabin. What engine noise there is, is a characterful three-cylinder gurgle rather than an off-putting strained sound. Wind and road noise are equally well contained, and this makes the car as comfortable on the motorway as it is around town.
Ford Focus 1.0-litre (99hp) EcoBoost Zetec 5dr (Tested: May 2012)
The latest Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost is not what you might expect. With a turbocharger, a six-speed manual gearbox and 99hp to play with it’s entirely enough for most jobs: cruising on the motorway, zipping around city centres and snaking along a twisty B-road.
OK, the performance isn’t stunning – 0-62mph takes 11.3 seconds – but it feels energetic enough when you are putting your foot down. You might even call it entertaining. In terms of the ride you’ll only feel the harshest of potholes, while poorly surfaced roads are dealt with admirably. It’s another fine-riding Ford Focus after all.
If there is a criticism, it’s that the steering is devoid of feel but that’s a minor problem.
Ford Focus 1.6 (178hp) Zetec S (Tested: December 2011)
Equipped with the new 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, producing 178hp and a peak 270Nm of pulling power, it can reach a top speed of 138mph. The benchmark 0-62mph sprint is completed in in 7.9 seconds.
This means that it’ll be the fastest accelerating model in the range by a 0.7 second margin, until the Focus ST is launched later in 2012. Unlike the turbocharged engines of old, the EcoBoost we tested delivers its power smoothly.
There's none of that pronounced turbo rush that you might expect, just a quick and urgent response. It pulls hard, all the way up to 6,000rpm, with a pleasingly aggressive snarl from the exhaust when accelerating.
There's also the odd pronounced cough from the turbocharger's wastegate, just to remind you that you're driving something a little different. It's good fun, and enjoyable to drive.
Ford Focus 1.6 Studio (Tested: September 2012)
The Ford Focus range is a complex beast but the stand-out model in terms of outright value is the Studio 1.6 version. At a very competitive £13,995 it is at a bargain-basement price, but don’t be fooled this is not a bargain-basement car.
You get air-con, an immobiliser, electric mirrors and front windows, a CD player with MP3 connectivity, split fold rear seats and ESP as standard. If you want metallic paint that’ll be £525 extra.
Like all Focuses the Studio has decent handling abilities, a roomy yet practical interior and a robust build quality.
Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Edge Econetic 5dr (Tested: September 2012)
With a saintly CO2 emissions figure of 88g/km and up to 85mpg, the cleanest Ford Focus in the line-up is the 1.6-litre diesel engined Edge ECOnetic TDCi. Although it can achieve an impressive 85mpg, you won’t suffer too much in the way of performance thanks to its respectable 104bhp power output.
Ford’s ‘Eco Mode’ information system monitors your driving style, keeping an eye on speed, gear changes and braking. It also records how many cold-engine short journeys are made and awards you an overall ‘score’, with advice on areas in which you can be more fuel-efficient.
Ford Focus Titanium X 2.0 TDCi Powershift (Tested: September 2012)
Clearly, if you want an all-out Ford Focus with pin-point handling and exemplary performance you’ll go for the ST. The next best thing in the Focus line-up in terms of driving fun then is the Titanium X 2.0 TDCi Powershift 5dr.
It’s not quite as lairy as the ST and certainly not as fast but if you want a car that’ll put a smile on your face but not attract the attentions of boy racers anxious for a ‘burn’ at the traffic lights then this’ll be the model for you. In terms of outright performance, it can’t hold a candle to the ST which will get from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds.
But it will get there in a fairly entertaining 8.6 seconds and that’s because the 160bhp 2.0-litre diesel has 250Nm of pull - and you can certainly feel that when you are accelerating. It handles well, dealing with corners with ease offering plenty of body control and grip.
Ford Focus model history
- January 2011 – Third-generation Focus hatchback available to order with deliveries from March in Edge, Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X trims. Petrol engines are all 1.6s and comprise of the Ti-VCT in 105hp and 120hp guises, as well as a turbocharged EcoBoost with 150hp. Diesels come in 1.6-litre TDCi with 95hp and 115hp, and a 2.0-litre TDCi with 140hp and 163hp.
- August 2011 – Entry-level Studio model with an 85hp 1.6-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine introduced.
- November 2011 – Zetec S trim introduced as the sportiest offering in the range until the ST arrives. Engines restricted to the 1.6 Ti-VCT (125hp) and 1.6T EcoBoost (180hp) petrols, and in diesel form the 1.6 TDCi (115hp) and 2.0 TDCi (163hp).
- February 2012 – New three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine with 100hp and 125hp introduced in Edge, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium and Titanium X trim levels, in most cases replacing the previous non-turbo 125hp 1.6-litre motor.
- June 2012 – Sportier ST-1, ST-2, ST-3 versions available to order with a 2.0-litre 250hp engine. First deliveries begin in September.
- July 2013 – Aftermarket Mountune upgrade available for petrol-powered ST models, pushing power up to 275hp.
- August 2013 – New trims introduced with standard sat-nav: Zetec Navigator supplements the existing Zetec specification, while Titanium Navigator and Titanium X Navigator replace the versions they’re based on.
- September 2013 – Standalone Electric Focus launched powered by a 142hp motor, with batteries sufficient for a claimed range of 100 miles. Specification is broadly similar to Titanium.
FACELIFTED RANGE LAUNCHED
- September 2014 – Revised range available to order for November delivery, featuring an all-new front end, a wider tailgate, smaller rear lights and a refreshed interior. Trims for the revised range are Studio, Style, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium, Titanium X and a stand-alone Electric trim for the battery-powered model. Many of the engines are more efficient than before, plus there’s the addition of a 1.5-litre EcoBoost producing 182hp.
- October 2014 – Facelifted versions of the sporty ST-1, ST-2 and ST-3 are available to order with delivery scheduled for February 2015. More aggressive styling kits than regular hatchbacks with a choice of a 250hp 2.0-litre petrol and a 185hp 2.0-litre diesel.
- September 2015 – Range-topping RS available to order with deliveries from spring 2016. Hallmarked by a unique bodykit, a 2.3-litre 350hp engine and four-wheel drive.
- October 2015 – Nudging power for the petrol-engined ST models to 275hp is an aftermarket Mountune package.
- November 2015 – Diesel-engined versions of the ST are available to order with the PowerShift twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
- December 2015 – Available with a 182hp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol or a 150hp 2.0-litre TDCi diesel are the Zetec S Black Edition and Red Edition. The former is black with a red roof, grille surround and other details, the latter its opposite.
- June 2016 – ST-Line specification introduced replacing all previous Zetec S versions.
- August 2016 – Aftermarket Mountune performance upgrade available for the Focus RS, pushing peak power up to 375hp.
- February 2017 – Zetec Edition specification replaces previous Zetec trim. ST-Line Black Edition and Red Edition, along with the ST-1 are discontinued. Multimedia system upgraded to Sync3.
Buying a new Ford Focus Hatchback
- Zetec trim is our pick of the line-up
- RS holds its value brilliantly
- Select options wisely
Ford’s Focus is one of Britain’s best-selling family hatchbacks, with more than half being sold through fleets as company cars, which should mean healthy discounts for private retail buyers. Keep an eye out for attractive deals and financial incentives.
Most Focuses are comprehensively equipped meaning that the Zetec trim has sufficient equipment for most needs. However, if you’re looking for something of a more sporting nature, the middle-ranking ST-2 offers a decent balance of kit.
Which engine to go for with the Zetec trim depends on the type of driving you do: spend most of the time in town and the 125hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol’s best, but longer motorway slogs on a regular basis are better served by the 125hp 1.5 TDCi diesel. For the ST-2 the 2.0-litre EcoBoost should be your default choice.
The RS almost needs considering as a standalone choice – if you’re thinking of buying one, even an ST is unlikely to be on your radar. The good news is that fast Fords are sensible buys and depreciate very slowly – after three years and 30,000 miles, we expect it’ll retain 64 percent of its value.
Choose your options wisely – rear parking sensors and autonomous emergency braking in the form of Active City Stop make the most sense.
Buying a used Ford Focus Hatchback
- Masses of choice available
- Avoid non-turbo engines
- Seek advice with sporty versions
Used Ford Focuses will be readily available across the nation, especially in mid-range trims in both petrol and diesel-engined forms. You’re more likely to find Shergar and win the lottery before coming across a used Focus Electric, though.
Most on the used market will be ex-company cars, but don’t be concerned about that – although the mileage might be higher, they’ve usually been maintained to very high standards.
With so much standard equipment and a plethora of options available it’s imperative you check all the kit works exactly as it should. If it doesn’t, then walk away.
We’d also advise steering clear of any non-turbo engines, especially after the 2014 facelift. They’re not bad cars, but the performance is weak to say the least.
Considering an ST or RS? We’d recommend taking a specialist with you and hunting out an unfettered example with a known provenance. You may pay more to buy it but you’ll face fewer bills in the longer run.
It pays to spend time examining the body and wheels for scars of urban life. Also check all the paperwork tallies up and that it’s been serviced and maintained as it should have been, particularly if privately owned.
Allay your fears further with a Parkers Car History Check to discover any secrets such as outstanding finance.
Selling your Ford Focus
- Prepare your car for sale thoroughly
- Ensure the paperwork’s all to hand
- Produce a compelling advertisement
Mid-life improvements to the Focus mean Ford’s confident that resale values have had a positive uplift, but even so, with such a mainstream, readily available car, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to command a premium asking price on anything other than an RS.
Consequently, your car needs to work harder for you, so ensure it’s presented at its very best – you’re more likely to get a deal quicker than have someone haggling about paintwork repairs and kerbed wheels. In a similar vein, keep all of your car’s paperwork in order and ready to hand for buyers to pore over.
Clean the car thoroughly inside and out and spend time producing a carefully worded and photographed advert.