Ford Focus (14-): Farewell, friend

  • Time's up for our trusty Ford Focus
  • Find out what we loved and loathed
  • Should you rush out to buy one?

The time has come to wave goodbye to our long-term Ford Focus – a car that promised much in terms of sales volumes and very much delivered upon extended evaluation.

While our car was in a very high-spec configuration, with Titanium X trim and £2,630 of optional extras installed, it’s plain to see that you don’t need to spend huge money on a Focus to drive away in an extremely accomplished car indeed.

That’s perhaps why it’s such a popular company car. Its engines are very efficient, which means tax isn’t too laborious, but you get a lot of toys on board too – and they perform very well, too.

We especially liked the SYNC2 multimedia system, which features a touchscreen and voice control among many other advanced attributes.

And who wouldn’t appreciate the sheer luxury afforded by heating for the front seats, windscreen and even the steering wheel? It wasn’t long ago you wouldn’t have that last option on expensive Mercedes saloons, let alone run-of-the-mill Ford hatchbacks. I just wish I’d spent more time in winter with the car to fully appreciate these features.

What surprised everyone who had a go in the Focus was just how good it was to drive. Sure, ours has a fairly diminutive 1.5-litre diesel engine, but thanks to clever gearing and a beautiful gear-shift action, it was brilliant fun.

Show it a corner and things just got better. Ford has done huge amounts to improve the chassis of this post-2014-facelift model, and while it corners with stability and confidence, it’s fun too. But the real trick is how comfortable the Focus is too – the car’s damping especially was exemplary. It’s interesting to note that unlike many rivals, it’s not available with adaptive suspension. Instead, the firm’s engineers have hung their hat on a set suspension set-up to deliver the best of both worlds, and in our minds it’s very impressive indeed.

There were a few things we didn’t like quite so much over our time with the car. First of all, the wheels were a little too big. We’d have taken an inch or so less – with the improved ride comfort – over the 18-inchers on our car. And try as we might, we couldn’t really get the voice control working as intended either. More time might be the key here, but in our evaluation period it prompted nothing more than frustration. That’s a shame, because we reckon a decent system like this is a far neater and safer solution than anything you have to reach out and touch for yourself.

Another gripe was with fuel economy. Ford claims a stratospheric 74.3mpg combined for the 1.5 diesel, but during our time the trip computer showed 53mpg and by our calculations a less impressive 49mpg. It’s all very well making headlines in the lab, but transferring said performance into the real world is a struggle car companies aren’t exactly winning.

Still, were it in a lower specification, such as Titanium or even Zetec with the SYNC2 as an optional extra, we could heartily recommend the Focus as a car perfect for families, fleet users and actually: pretty much anyone else. It’s a true Ford for the people.

But the next six months are to be spent in its arch rival – the prodigious Volkswagen Golf – so who’s set to win the battle of the big guns? Keep an eye out for our coverage to find out.

Mileage: 7,492

Fuel economy: 49mpg