Ford Focus introduction
Now in its fourth generation, the Ford Focus has consistently been a bestselling family car since the launch of the original in 1998. It has established itself as a good value buy both new and used, which is quite an achievement given just how capable the best of its rivals – the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic – are.
But what set the Ford Focus apart from all of those cars was just how capable a driver's car it was. The 1998 car revolutionised the traditional family hatchback sector with handling, agility and feedback far better than most rivals, and since then, has always been the first-choice family car for those who like driving.
What Ford Focus models are there?
The Ford Focus range is a simple one: Style, Zetec, ST-Line and Titanium for the hatchback and estate (above) models. The engine range is also straightforward, with a decent range of petrol motors – interesting as Ford says that the sales split between petrol and diesel will be 50:50.
There are five different EcoBoost petrols spread between the 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre capacities, producing up to 182hp. They are both are three-cylinder units with cylinder deactivation technology.
There are three different diesel engine variants to choose from, spread across 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre EcoBlue engines, ranging from 95-150hp.
Halfway-house to an SUV? The Ford Focus Active
- Read more about the Ford Focus Active
Ford says that there are customers out there who live an active lifestyle but don't want a full-fat SUV. For those that do, they'll happily sell a Kuga to them. The Ford Focus Active is available in either an estate or five-door hatchback, and has a number of visual differences to the standard Focus.
Active models gets a 30mm increase in ride height and bespoke steering knuckles. As well as that, there are new black side cladding panels, different bumper mouldings with silver skidplates and roof bars. It also gets bespoke front-end styling and two new selectable drive modes called Slippery and Trail.
Ford Focus design and styling
Launched in 2018, the fourth-generation Focus is nothing less than a thorough reboot of the franchise both in terms of styling and engineering that's based on an all-new platform. The good news is that Ford says that this one has been honed for keen drivers, and we'd certainly agree with that assertion.
In terms of styling, the new Ford Focus looks substantially different from any Focus that has come before. As well as losing the six-light glasshouse (three separate side windows on each side), it's now a far sleeker proposition, which lends itself to the notion that this is a proper driver's car.
This isn't just a visual trick. The new Focus is lower, wider and squatter than before, which gives it such a sporting stance. However, thanks to the longer wheelbase, there's more interior room, especially in the rear. It's also packed with safety kit that's new to the Focus line, and class-leading in terms of what's offered.
Is the Ford Focus good to drive?
Yes. Parkers rates the Ford Focus very highly indeed. In the 2019 Parkers New Car Awards, we awarded it Best Small Family Car, placing it ahead of the excellent Dacia Duster and the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Rifter and Vauxhall Combo Life trio. Why? Because it's good to drive, is roomy inside and it's packed with safety kit.
You can find out why the Parkers team rates this bestselling family hatchback so highly in our in-depth expert review, including buying and selling tips and how it stacks up with rivals. Plus, don’t forget to check our Ford Focus owners’ reviews.
Although it's a class-leading car, it does have some faults. Most notably, the interior quality isn't up there with the Volkswagen Golf or its cousins, the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, and we're still not completely sold on Ford's Sync3 infotainment system.
How much does a Ford Focus cost?
With a list price for the Styleversion coming in at less than £18,000, the Focus is bang on the money compared with its rivals in this market sector. You can get a high spec 182hp Focus ST-Line for less than £300 per month with a deposit of £3,000 (on a 38-month, 9,000-mile-per-year contract) on Ford's Options scheme (December 2018).
You can spend more than £30,000 on a specced-up Titanium, though, and for that money, you're probably going to be looking in the direction of more permium choices.
If you want to get the latest view of the Focus's PCP car finance deals, check out our Finance Advice section. It's also worth remembering that it also often features in our regularly updated best cars for £250 and £300 a month article.
Watch the Ford Focus full review video
Ford Focus Model History
Fourth-generation Ford Focus model timeline (2018-date)
- June 2018 – Fourth-generation Focus launches on brand-new C2 platform with six trim levels (Vignale arrives in the autumn) and six engines (182hp 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol and 150hp 2.0-litre Ecoblue diesel also arrive in the autumn). Customer can choose from Style, Zetec, ST-Line, ST-Line X, Titanium, Titanium X and Vignale models, with engines ranging from a 95hp 1.5-litre diesel to a 182hp 1.5-litre petrol.
Third-generation Ford Focus model timeline (2011-2018)
- 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.
- August 2016 – Aftermarket Mountune performance upgrade available for the Focus RS, pushing peak power up to 375hp.
- June 2016 – ST-Line specification introduced replacing all previous Zetec S versions.
- 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.
- November 2015 – Diesel-engined versions of the ST are available to order with the PowerShift twin-clutch automatic gearbox.
- October 2015 – Nudging power for the petrol-engined ST models to 275hp is an aftermarket Mountune package.
- 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 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 2014 – Facelifted 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- July 2013 – Aftermarket Mountune upgrade available for petrol-powered ST models, pushing power up to 275hp.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- August 2011 – Entry-level Studio model with an 85hp 1.6-litre Ti-VCT petrol engine introduced.
- 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.
Second-generation Ford Focus (2005-2011)
First-generation Ford Focus (1998-2005)