Ford Focus (14-): Focus on family

  • Ford Focus is subjected to the rigours of a family road trip
  • Comfortable cabin and supple suspension reduce stress levels
  • Overall our £25,625 Titanium X car does a superb job

The Ford Focus is often touted as one of the best all-rounder cars you can buy thanks to its enormous range of engines, practical dimensions and generous kit levels.

This makes it popular with parents who want a one-size-fits-all runabout that is as confident on a weekday commute as it is transporting children to birthday parties on the weekend.

We've already been impressed by our car's handing and kit levels, so a trip to the coast with my young family seemed the perfect opportunity to test how the Focus performs as a practical form of transport.

Family practicality under the spotlight

With our bags packed and youngest passenger suitably full-up and asleep, my first job was to work out which parts of our pushchair I was going to have to detatch in order to get it to fit in the boot.

The space on offer is not as plentiful as in a VW Golf or Vauxhall Astra so I was expecting the full wheels-off deconstruction, but happily, thanks to a decent amount of width between the wheel arches, it went right in. This saves precious minutes at both ends of a journey, and means I don’t have to make excessive contact with muddy wheels.

Boot is not huge but big enough

The Focus and I already off to a good start, next came the fitment of our ISOFIX base, which connects to the chassis via metal loops hidden beneath the seat backs. I was hoping the Focus would have plastic tunnels in the cushions to help guide the base legs into place, which makes the job easier and protects the upholstery.

Although these were absent, the mounting points were marked out with plastic buttons on the seats, so it slotted in fairly easily.

No plastic guide tunnels but handy buttons to locate ISOFIX mounts

Pop-out door protectors (£85) were handy when it came to actually installing our infant. The car seat is quite large and usually requires opening the door as wide as it will go, so having plastic edge guards magically appear to mitigate any potential door damage means one less stress.

Pop-out door protectors help defend your paint

Front door pockets are capacious, and can house all the family essentials (squash and tissues on one side, a Dear Zoo book and many, many packets of wet wipes in the other).

The cubby in the centre console has slideable sections to accommodate vessels of varying size, including an oddly shaped bottle for junior, and even has a hidden compartment that I could stash a hidden supply of driver-only sweets in.

Lots of space for bottles and wet wipes

On the road the Focus makes short work of a long trip. Its 1.5-litre diesel engine is smooth and quiet and the suspension soaks up bumps without sending them crashing into the cabin. 

The Driver Assistance Pack (£450) offers peace of mind when transporting precious human cargo, thanks to a system that keeps you in the centre of your lane. It also vibrates the steering wheel when you approach the white line without indicating, which is preferable to the beeping versions of this system, which have been known to awaken a sleeping child.

Standard in every Focus is a clever fuel filler cap which only allows a petrol or diesel pump, depending on what your car takes. Nothing ruins a family holiday quite like thoughtlessly pouring gallons of petrol into your diesel car, only to part with hundreds of pounds and wait several hours for someone to come and syphon it all out.

Never misfuel your car again

Verdict

Reviews of performance cars often descend into overblown admiration for one element or another, whether it is epic grip, sublime handling, or feelsome brakes. Praise for a family car however is generally more down to earth - does X fit into the boot, does it make my child sea-sick, how hard is it to remove biscuit from the seats, and so on.

As such I will offer the Focus the most comprehensive approval I can - it made my life on a long trip with a young family very easy, and at some points, quite fun.