Ford Focus (14-): Sitting comfortably, speeding confusion

  • Ford Focus seating comes under the spotlight
  • Find out which other practical touches we rate
  • We’ve noticed a problem with a safety system too…

It’s a case of ups and downs in this update as the Focus impresses inside, but an electrical system leaves us wanting.

Serious about seats

When you’re thinking about a car, seats are pretty important. In fact, they’re probably the thing you come into contact with most while driving.

In our long-termer we’ve got sports-style front seats. They’re introduced into the Focus line-up at Zetec trim, which means the majority of cars you see will have them installed. Our Titanium X specification gets half leather upholstery as well.

First of all they’re brilliant. Don’t let the name put you off though, as these aren’t some extreme racing bucket seats. They’re actually very well-built for long-distance driving and I find for my body shape they’re nearly perfect.

It helps they’re very easily adjustable – in my case, electrically – but even when the member of the Parkers team with legs four feet shorter than mine (maybe a slight exaggeration) drives it, I still find getting comfortable again the work of seconds.

Paintwork protection

While we’re on the subject of doors, I’ve come to enjoy the insurance provided by the Door Edge Protectors. For £85 I can totally understand buying this optional extra if you regularly park in car parks. 

They're strips of rubber which deploy to the outer edge of the doors mechanically as they open.

When we first got the keys to the Focus I noticed the rear ones were slow to operate if you slammed the rear doors, resulting in another push to terminate the locking mechanism. But the fronts, which I use most often, it's a different story - working with a slick operation you can barely hear. Most people don’t even know they’re there.

Traffic sign troubles

There is one thing I’ve noticed about the Focus which has potential to really catch you out though. The car ‘reads’ speed limit signs with a camera behind the rear-view mirror and displays them on the dash as you pass, so you’re never left wondering which limit applies to the road you’re on.

It works well for the majority of the time, but sometimes it gets a little confused. I’ve set up an alarm if I stray 10mph over the posted speed limit, but a few times I’ve been travelling at 70mph on a motorway and all of a sudden the car decides there’s a 40mph limit posted – there isn’t – and warns me accordingly.

It has created a moment or two of panic, but luckily I’ve not slammed on the brakes at 70mph to drop 30mph from my speed, which would be at best dangerous and at worst lethal on a busy British motorway.

You can see the point illustrated below, where the car displays a limit of 10mph when the sign clearly states a 15mph maximum.

The moral of the story is simple: pay attention. These ‘driver assistance’ systems are just that: assistance. 

After discussing it in the in the office we suspect that it could be a result of the car reading the small limiter signs on the back of trucks and vans and mistaking them for roadside signs. There are a few instances of the same issues on the forums, but regardless more testing is needed. And if the next wave of technology is to actually govern a car’s speed then more work is required in the meantime.

Mileage: 7,110

Fuel economy: 48.6mpg (calc)