Ford Focus (14-): Welcome to the fleet

  • We take delivery of one of the UK’s best-selling cars
  • Top-of-the-range Titanium X promises lots of kit
  • Frugal diesel engine claims seriously low running costs

When you think of the Ford Focus, what immediately springs to mind? Middle-of-the-road company car? Average Joe’s faceless family hatchback? Not me.

Since a fleeting go in the recently facelifted version, I’ve been almost overcome by excitement at the thought of the latest addition to the Parkers long-term test fleet. So without further ado, let me introduce you to our all-new Focus Titanium X.

New tricks

Before you think I’ve gone slightly soft in the head getting excited by a car most of us see every single day of our lives, let me explain. This is the new Focus. It wears the latest Ford family face, so it looks like an Aston Martin, if indeed the historic British marque built a grey diesel hatchback.

But it’s far more than just a cosmetic upgrade. Under the skin the clever people from the Blue Oval have done lots of work to improve the way this car drives, and that’s music to my ears since the pre-facelift car was already near the top of the class in that respect.

There have been steering and chassis upgrades which promise a more engaging experience than ever, and the introduction of a new 1.5-litre diesel engine also means low running costs. For someone on my lowly pay grade, that’s never a bad thing.

Said powerplant makes 118bhp and 270Nm of torque, which means 0-62mph takes 10.5 seconds and the top speed is 120mph. It’s not exactly a rival for my previous long-termer in that respect!

Chirpy chirpy cheap cheap

It fights back with some scarcely believable claims about its running costs, though. The headline has to be the fuel economy. If I can get anywhere near Ford’s claimed average figure of a whopping 74.3mpg then I’ll be looking at three times the figure from the Leon Cupra, and that’s going to have a nice, soothing effect on my wallet.

With CO2 emissions of 98g/km it’s also cheap to tax for both private and company car drivers, but since I’ve got just six months with this one I’m lucky enough not to have to pay anything, since showroom (first year) tax is free.

With an on-the-road price of £22,995, this Titanium X model is the highest specification of Focus you can buy without moving up to hot-hatch territory with the ST.

Gadgets galore

There’s a long list of standard equipment on board, and the highlights include heated front seats and a quick-clear heated windscreen – perfect for frosty mornings - and Ford’s latest version of the SYNC multimedia system, which comes with an eight-inch touchscreen and DAB digital radio as well as an advanced voice control facility. Will I use the latter? Not sure at this point. Voice control has always seemed a black art to me.

Of course, few private buyers these days stick with the standard kit list, and this car has a number of optional extras too. The poetically named ‘Appearance Pack 2’ nets me the 18-inch alloys as well as tinted rear windows for £450, and the same amount also buys the Driver Assistance Pack. This combines lane-departure warning with a lane-keeping aid, traffic sign recognition, something called Driver Alert and automatic high-beam headlights.

Punching above its weight

There’s plenty more to play with on this car, but I’d be mad not to mention on that’s got me all of a lather: it has a heated steering wheel. Small pleasures, I know, but I drive a lot of cars in my job and I can tell you that you’re more likely to find this sort of feature on a £120k S-Class Mercedes than a sub-£30k Ford. Sure, it costs an extra £95, but for me it gives a real sense of occasion to the car. Am I fickle? Probably. But I know for a fact I’ll use it. I don’t do driving gloves, but regularly suffer with freezing phalanges on a winter’s morning. This should fix that problem nicely.

In total there’s a further £2,630 of optional extras on this car. That’s about right in terms of list price vs add-ons, and the final value of the car is £25,625. Considering what it’s promising, that sounds like stunning value. But can a car at this price point really deliver such a lot without showing the cracks?

Suppose I’d better get driving it and find out.

Mileage: 0

Fuel economy: n/a