4.1 out of 5 4.1
Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1

Very little to fault – a huge step up from accomplished predecessor

Ford Focus Hatchback Review Video
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At a glance

New price £22,650 - £34,710
Lease from new From £206 p/m View lease deals
Used price £8,000 - £25,250
Used monthly cost From £200 per month
Fuel Economy 34.4 - 67.3 mpg
Road tax cost £150
Insurance group 8 - 34 How much is it to insure?


  • Broad range of strong engines
  • Fun to drive with great handling
  • Suite of driver assistance tech
  • Spacious interior and big boot


  • Adaptive dampers don’t add anything
  • No hybrid or electric version available
  • Automatic gearbox can be indecisive
  • Cabin storage could be better

Ford Focus Hatchback rivals

Written by Adam Binnie on

­­The Ford Focus stands for striking styling and fine handling in a segment of the market that traditionally plays it pretty safe. This generation aims to continue its predecessors’ success and, although the current crop of family hatchbacks are far tougher competition, the popular Ford still stands out.

For starters, it’s based on an all-new platform and, when you consider that it bagged the Parkers Small Family Car award in 2019 and 2020, it's enjoying huge success – and likely to contribute to driving Focus sales well beyond the current tally of two million. That said, there’s the small matter of today’s wide and talented range of competition; rivals include the Vauxhall AstraMazda 3Hyundai i30Kia Ceed and the evergreen Volkswagen Golf.

Consequently, Ford might not have it entirely its way. Find out how it stacks up, and whether it’s worth your cash, in the in-depth Parkers verdict.

Still great fun to drive

Ford has been accused of letting the overall driving characteristics of its vehicles slip in recent years, but if the latest Fiesta (and especially the Fiesta ST) was an indication that this is no longer the case, then the fourth-generation Focus is a signed and sealed confirmation.

The ST-Line models in particular – with their lowered suspension – are enormous fun when the road gets twisty, delivering balanced body control (how little the body of the vehicle leans through corners), quick responses and bags of grip. As far as medium-sized hatchbacks go, this is pretty much as good as it gets.

A drive mode selector is standard on all Focus models, which tweaks the steering weight, accelerator response, adaptive cruise control (if fitted) and adaptive dampers (if fitted) to change the vehicle’s driving characteristics.

Unfortunately, the optional adaptive dampers (named Continuously Controlled Damping) do little to persuade you that they’re worth the extra cash. Not only is comfort not improved, but body control also takes a hit. Best give that option a miss.

Impressive EcoBoost petrols and EcoBlue diesels

Customers will be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking the engine in their Ford Focus – that is, as long as they weren’t expecting a hybrid or electric option. Despite boasting a total of four different engines in eight guises from launch (three of which are diesels), there are no hybrid or pure electric choices. We have been told, however, that all EcoBoost petrol engines are hybrid compatible, so watch this space.

Of the powerplants that you can buy, we’ve driven the 150hp and 182hp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrols. Both are three-cylinder units with cylinder deactivation technology (where the car saves fuel by shutting down one of the three cylinders under light or no load) and they deliver a smooth, refined driving experience. Claimed fuel economy is 51.4mpg for the 150hp unit and 50.4mpg for the 182hp version.

Neither feel particularly quick but keep an eye on the speedometer and the numbers rise quickly enough for the vast majority of driving situations. The three-cylinder rumble won’t be for everyone, but you’ll seldom hear it when pottering around at low revs.

Two gearbox options are offered: a six-speed manual and an eight-speed auto. It’s hard to justify spending the extra money on the automatic, unless you need it, because the manual transmission is such a joy to use. The automatic is also somewhat of a mixed bag, as it’s predominantly smooth and predictable – yet it can be jerky and inconsistent when hurried. It’s still an improvement over the old Powershift transmissions, make no mistake, but it’s still not quite up there with Volkswagen’s DSG unit.

Good quality and lots of tech

Hop behind the wheel and you’ll find that the overall shape and layout of the cabin isn’t that far removed from the current Fiesta. Most of the important controls are positioned logically around the wheel and centre console, while the 6.5-inch touchscreen (an 8.0-inch upgrade is available) juts out of the dashboard to display sat-nav, media and other infotainment options via the tried-and-tested Sync3 interface.

The cabin looks and feels of a higher quality now, too. Everything appears tightly screwed together and appears current; the manual handbrake lever is no more, replaced by an electronic switch, while – on automatic models ­– the traditional gearstick has been replaced with a rotary dial gear selector (like that in a Jaguar).

Storage space is reasonable but could be better, with the glovebox and central armrest cubby feeling a little pinched. Still, deceptively large door pockets and well-placed central cupholders go some way to making up for it. An optional head-up display also makes its debut on Ford cars in Europe, and is capable of showing speed, traffic sign and sat-nav instructions.

Seven trims in total

The familiar trim levels – including the popular Zetec, ST-Line, Titanium and Titanium X – remain, and are joined by the new ST-Line X and top-of-the-range luxury Vignale spec. There's also the hot-hatch version, named the ST.

Standard equipment on base-spec Zetec models is pretty good, and includes air-con, DAB radio and switchable drive modes. Other useful features include Quickclear heated windscreen, cruise control and a Sync3 touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Ford Focus Active

People who want a Focus with off-roader looks are well catered for, by the Ford Focus Active. This version focuses mostly on cosmetic changes, like chunkier tyres and black plastic cladding. But it also sits usefully higher than the standard focus, by around 30mm at the front and 34mm at the rear. Active models also get different off-roadish driving modes.

Focus ST brings additional performance

The ST comes with a 2.3-litre petrol engine – similar to the one found in the Mustang – which produces 280hp, or a 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel with 190hp. Just like the previous ST, the option to have an automatic gearbox is available, although not from launch. If you want more practicality to go with your performance, you can also have the ST as an estate.

There's just one trim in the model range - most buyers of the previous version went for top-spec ST3, so Ford decided to simply offer its new ST in one highly equipped specification. The cheapest route into ST ownership is the diesel, due to its lower list price and higher fuel economy.

Will there be an RS to join the Focus ST?

Ford denies it flatly, but strong rumours of a 2020 Focus RS continue to persist – and with the ST coming out of the blocks with 280hp to play with, it's going to need 350hp-plus to make sure it's worth the upgrade. We suspect it will also drive all four wheels, just like the previous model.

Click through to read everything you need to know about the Ford Focus. Or, skip to practicality, how much it costs to run, what it's like to drive – and whether we recommend buying one.

Dealwatch special

Our leasing partner, ZenAuto is offering Ford Focus' from £206 per month. The usual terms and conditions apply.*

*These deals are indicative examples of some packages available as of 22 September 2020 but are subject to change without prior notice. Everyone's financial circumstances are different, and the availability of credit is subject to status. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.

Ford Focus Hatchback rivals

Other Ford Focus models: