Ford Focus (14-): The range in Focus

  • We explore the Focus line-up to see which version is best
  • Find out if we’d take petrol or diesel engines
  • Discover how much our Parkers pick would cost

The Ford Focus I’m currently looking after costs £25,625 and I think that’s quite a lot of money for a car like this. In fact, it’s enough to get you behind the wheel of a new BMW 3 Series, and that’s one of our favourite cars on sale right now.

In an effort to figure out whether a mid-sized family hatchback can realistically command such a premium, our Focus met a more realistically configured Zetec version fitted with Ford’s clever 1-litre EcoBoost petrol engine in place of our 1.5-litre diesel. While obviously smaller, the 1-litre - on paper - performs in a similar fashion to the diesel. How do they stack up? Read on to find out…

Exploring Engines

What we’re looking at here is a pair of highly sophisticated powerplants. The white car comes with what is probably the most interesting of the engines – it’s a tiny 1-litre petrol, but thanks to advanced turbocharging technology it still produces 123bhp and 200Nm. That’s enough to propel the Focus from 0-62mph in 11 seconds flat, which is fairly reasonable performance considering it’ll also return a claimed fuel economy of 60.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 108g/km. Our car showed fuel economy of 38mpg over our time with the car, though, which isn’t a huge shock. The Focus is a heavy car, and that little engine does have to work quite hard to move its bulk.

The diesel, on the other hand, takes half a second less to cover 0-62mph and actually does feel noticeably quicker on the road. This is because it has slightly less power of 118bhp, but more torque at 270Nm. And while both engines are coupled with excellent six-speed manual gearboxes, it’s the diesel car that feels slightly more rewarding to drive since its gears are very nicely judged at lower speeds. It makes the Focus feel playful, matching its handling well.

Another advantage of the diesel is its slightly better fuel economy. The claimed figure from Ford is a scarcely believable 74.3mpg, but over extended running I’m calculating that 50mpg is a realistic expectation in the real world. I'm seeing just less than 43mpg, but with a bit of concentration that's easily improved upon.

Its CO2 output of 98g/km means tax is less too for private buyers – the petrol is £20 a year while the diesel is free – but company car drivers will be interested to note that as things stand with the three percent diesel surcharge in company car tax, the petrol will actually work out one percent cheaper to tax for the 2015/15 tax year. Next year things even out a little though, so where there is a two percent hike for the petrol, the diesel sees a one percent reduction in BIK taxation.

Studying Specifications

Historically Ford reports the best-selling trim in the Focus line-up is Zetec, but over recent years there has been a shift towards the more premium end of the market, so Titanium does a lot of heavy lifting for the brand too. The cars we’re looking at here are in Zetec – which is the third step on the ladder – and Titanium X, which is the highest specification of Focus you can buy.

While Zetec nets you a decent amount of toys such as the Quickclear windscreen, sports front seats and halogen headlights, we’d definitely consider taking the step up to Titanium. For an extra £1,500 you get Ford’s excellent new SYNC2 multimedia system, which includes an eight-inch touchscreen in the dash along with advanced voice control technology and DAB digital radio.

It also nets you automatic headlights and wipers, rear parking sensors, cruise control and keyless start – all features which really boost the desirability of the car. They’ll help prop up its resale value too. You’ll need to pay £250 extra to have sat-nav installed, though.

We wouldn’t go much further than that, though. Another £2,000 moves you up into Titanium X trim, but while the rear parking camera, automatic parking, Bi-Xenon headlights and partial leather heated front seats are nice to have, they’re far from essential. If one or two of them appeal, it might be worth specifying them as optional extras instead to save yourself a bit of cash.

And as a final note, we like the chrome grille you get a Titanium-spec cars slightly more than the one on lower-level cars. The wheels look great too, though the car in your pictures has the £450 appearance Pack 2 installed, which upgrades to 18-inch alloys and rear privacy glass. It’s at the expense of a little ride quality, however.

Verdict

Actually, if it were us we wouldn’t pick either of the cars you can see in the pictures. Instead we’d find a middle ground and plump for a 1.5-litre diesel in Titanium specification, since we believe that’s where the sweet spot in the range really is. Oh, and optional extras? We’d have it in blue, with the heated steering wheel and sat-nav. Final price for this exact car is £21,415.

A saving of £4k isn’t anything to be sniffed at, is it?

Mileage: 3,598 

Fuel economy: 42.9mpg