This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Ford Focus Hatchback review.

4 out of 5 4.0
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

A joy to drive and a great used car bargain if you find a good one

Ford Focus Hatchback (11-18) - rated 4 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £13,865 - £39,095
Used price £2,165 - £33,910
Used monthly cost From £54 per month
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs
Road tax cost £0 - £240
Insurance group 6 - 43 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • Excellent ride and handling
  • Broad range of powerplants
  • Staggering speed of RS
  • Generously equipped

CONS

  • Poor steering feedback
  • Counter-intuitive PowerShift gearbox
  • Seats lack lateral support
  • Rivals are more spacious

Ford Focus Hatchback rivals

Written by Keith Adams on

As an all-rounder few cars could match the enduring appeal of the 2011-2018 Ford Focus hatchback. There's a version for pretty much everyone – from the humble 1.0-litre Ecoboost to the brilliant 2.3-litre RS – and they're all good to drive.

Whether you’ve a young family and are looking for something inexpensive and safe to run, or you’re after a nimble and engaging hot hatch with a useful degree of practicality, chances are there’s a Focus to suit your needs. It’s no surprise it’s so popular on the used market.

Ford Focus Mk3 known faults and common problems

Introduced in the UK in 2011, the third-generation Focus saw Ford really make the grade in terms of quality and dependability for the people. Extremely well made with an expansive model range, the Mk3 Focus continued the reputation of being respected and highly regarded for both fleet and retail owners. Also, like all Focuses before it, the Mk3 was – and is – a great steer, making it a real driver’s car.

Despite being priced a notch higher than the Ford norm when launched, residuals have now weakened following the launch of the fourth-generation Focus in 2018. Now affordable and with colossal forecourt choice, the Focus Mk3 is a superb used buy – and that makes it far too good to be considered ‘just’ the default-choice family car.

Top 10 problems

Buying guide – common issues, and what to look for if you're looking at getting one.

1 – Creaking windscreens

A whisper filtering through the trade regards the bonding of the front screens failing. Listen out for faint crunching or graunching sounds under spirited cornering. Keep your eyes and nostrils open for damp carpets and stale smells. This seems to be affecting cars that have recently had their screen replaced.

2 – Powershift and automatic gearboxes

Early cars featured a dry clutch transmission that was superseded by a more robust and reliable wet clutch type. It’s critical to ensure its three-year fluid and filter change to aid longevity and reliability. Powershift is troublesome and best avoided.

3 – Suspension

Some cars can demonstrate a creaking front suspension when traversing speed humps or undulating roads. This tends to be nothing more sinister than dry bushes that a keen DIY owner can cure in minutes. A good bargaining point when closing a deal.

4 – Steering checks

When stationary, twirl the steering wheel from one full lock to another a few times and listen for a clonk or twang noise. You may be looking at a broken front coil spring. Not overly expensive to fix but it’s imperative that they are changed as a matching pair.

5 – Bodywork

The Focus features some intricate styling cues that make poor quality repair work really noticeable. Look around all the lamp unit edges and in particular around and inside the filler flap for signs of repair and overspray. Panel and paint quality from new was very good so reject or question anything that doesn’t look right.

6 – Brakes

Generally the Focus braking system is well up to the job in hand, but there are some really poor quality aftermarket parts out there. Look out for juddering front discs and grumbling rear pads. Make sure the road test features some high speed driving to induce the aforementioned problems – and haggle.

7 – Electricial

Some models can show signs of a charging issue. Sit in the car with the interior light on and engine idling. If the interior light seems to pulsate or flicker when you turn on the headlamps or other high current demand items like the heated screen, it’s showing an early sign of the alternator giving up.

8 – Wheels and tyres

The Focus can often be misdiagnosed for having a wheel bearing issue. It’s often caused by low quality tyres. If you notice any humming noises below 70mph coming from the back, check the tyre brand or for the inside edge of the rear tyres feeling lumpy or edged.

9 – Clutch and gearbox

Walk away from vehicles with a stiff gearchange, high biting clutch and/or spongy feeling clutch pedal. Earlier 1.0 cars had quality problems with components causing failure in some cases below 10,000 miles. Also, listen for a rattling noise when switching off indicating a failing dual mass flywheel.

10 – Ecoboost cooling system problems

EcoBoost 1.0 models (2011–2013) had a quality issue with a small but important plastic coolant pipe known as the Degas hose that became subject to a dealer service recall. Check it’s been modified because if it splits, especially at speed, it can leak and potentially destroy the engine.

Third-generation, five-doors only

Gone from this generation are the slower-selling three-door hatch, the even less popular saloon and the unfancied Coupe-Cabriolet.

It’s a majorly competitive sector that the Focus competes in with virtually every manufacturer offering thoroughly competent alternatives: the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf – along with its SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia siblings – as well as the Honda Civic, Hyundai i30, Kia Ceed, Peugeot 308 and Renault Megane are just a few of the hatchbacks on the market giving Ford a headache.

Rarely does the Blue Oval rest upon its laurels, consequently this generation Focus has been regularly honed and improved upon to help maintain its appeal. Key to its appeal aren't just visual and in terms of value for money – the Focus has keen steering and a great gearchange (in manual form), so keen drivers will feel like this car has been designed for them.

Styling and quality overhaul in 2014

A significant facelift for the Focus was introduced in 2014 (although not for the slow-selling electrically-powered model) with a new bonnet, front wings, bumpers (the front one incorporating a slender new grille) and slimmer headlamps. At the back, LEDs feature in the reshaped lights and there’s a new tailgate design.

Climb inside and you’ll notice the cabin materials were upgraded too, with many models featuring an 8.0-inch touchscreen at the top of the dashboard for the multimedia system (Sync2 initially, then Sync3 from 2017). All versions benefited from new instruments and redesigned switchgear, giving a mild uplift in quality.

Further enhancements were also made to the Focus’s self-parking and active safety systems.

Wide range of engine options

The breadth of powertrain choices for the Ford Focus is extraordinary, with most of the petrols and all of the diesels featuring turbocharging for efficient performance.

EcoBoost – read turbo – petrols come in 1.0- and 1.5-litre guises for the mainstream Focus range, producing between 100hp and 182hp, yet with CO2 emissions of just 99g/km for the least-polluting version.

Diesel fans have a choice of 1.5- and 2.0-litre units, serving up between 95hp and 150hp and, unsurprisingly, represent the most efficient of the conventional powerplants for the Focus. In fuel-sipping Econetic form, the 1.5 TDCi Focus has a claimed average of 83.1mpg with emissions of 88g/km of CO2.

You can go even greener with the very slow-selling Focus Electric, which simply requires charging up to replenish its batteries, although the maximum range is limited to 100 miles before you’ll need to plug it in again. On the plus side, the car itself is emission-free.

Fast Ford legacy: Focus ST and RS

Ford has a proud history of offering high-performance versions of its regular family cars and this generation Focus is no different, offered in both hot ST and scorching RS forms.

Petrol (2.0-litre EcoBoost, 250hp) and diesel (2.0-litre TDCi, 185hp) versions of the Focus ST are offered, each with a racier bodykit and deeper front grille, with enhanced performance and handling. Those petrol versions can reach 154mph and scurry from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds.

Introduced in 2016, the Focus RS is something else again, offering genuine performance-car slaying speed (165mph, 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds) from its 350hp, 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine. Four-wheel drive and clever electronics keep the car stable or allow it to be playful, depending on your requirements, but while the bodywork’s suitably pumped-up, it looks less outlandish than RSes of old.

Packed with features

Ford’s Focus hatchback comes with a raft of technology to improve driver safety and ownership experience such as a blindspot indicator, self-parking function and autonomous emergency braking. Some of these features are available as options only while others, depending on the trim level you choose, are standard.

There are nine trim levels available from the entry-level Style that comes with air-con but no alloy wheels through to the performance RS flagship, with the luxurious Titanium models providing comfort for those seeking a more premium aura.

Ford Focus Hatchback rivals

Other Ford Focus (2011 - 2018) models: