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View all Ford Focus reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
  • Ten engine configurations on offer…
  • …although none are hybrids or pure electric
  • Excellent six-speed manual, seven or eight-speed auto optional

There’s a wide selection of petrol and diesel engines in the Ford Focus but, from launch, there are no hybrid or pure electric models. All petrol engines are hybrid compatible, however, so watch this space.

Ford Focus EcoBoost petrol engines

With no less than five different version of petrol engines spread between the 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre EcoBoost units, there’s plenty to think about for potential customers. In what Ford claims is an industry first on three-cylinder motors, the EcoBoost units come with cylinder deactivation technology designed to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by automatically shutting down one of the cylinders when the engine is not required to work hard.

Opt for a 1.0-litre engine and three versions are available. The entry-level 85hp version produces 170Nm of torque and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 13.9 seconds, eventually topping out at 109mph.

Upgrade to the slightly punchier 100hp unit and torque increases accordingly to 200Nm, with 0-62mph taking 12.5 seconds and top speed rising to 114mph.

Ford Focus EcoBoost engine

Go for the most powerful 1.0-litre engine and you’ll be getting 125hp and 200Nm of torque, granting the Focus the capability to accelerate from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds (11.4 seconds with the eight-speed automatic) and on to a top speed of 123mph (120mph with the automatic).

If you decide that only a 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine will do, your choice is much less complicated. There’s a 150hp version with 270Nm of torque, good for 0-62mph in 9.0 seconds (9.1 with the automatic) and a top speed of 129mph (128mph with the automatic). There’s also a range-topping 182hp variant with 270Nm of torque. So equipped, the Focus can hit 62mph in 8.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 137mph.

The 1.5-litre engines don’t feel especially quick but they’re punchy enough for most driving situations. The sound of the three-cylinder engine won’t be for everyone, but it soon settles down when cruising. Power delivery and responses are linear and relatively quick, and certainly on a par with 1.5-litre engines in German rivals.

If you’re split between the 150hp and 182hp, the latter is only marginally faster in the real world, so think carefully before committing.

Ford Focus EcoBlue diesel engines

If you want a diesel-powered Ford Focus then there are three different engine variants to choose from. The entry-level 1.5-litre unit produces 95hp and 300Nm of torque, granting a 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

Move up to the 120hp 1.5-litre engine and torque remains the same at 300Nm, but the 0-62mph time improves to 10.3 seconds (10.5 for the automatic) and the top speed climbs to 120mph (119mph for the automatic).

Go for the range-topping diesel and you’ll get a larger 2.0-litre engine with 150hp and 370Nm of torque. The 0-62mph drops accordingly to 8.7 seconds (9.5 seconds with the automatic) and the top speed climbs to 129mph (127mph for the automatic).

Ford Focus transmissions

Both the six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic gearbox options in the Focus are new, the latter replacing the Powershift six-speed unit.

The automatic is perfectly serviceable for tooling around in a calm, sensible manner and offers smooth changes and decent driveability. Push on, however, and you can soon catch it out – causing the odd jerky change or annoying delay. It’s quite snappy when pulling off the line, too, which may take a bit of getting used to.

Ford Focus automatic gearbox

Something that also might take a bit of getting used to is the rotary gear selector dial that replaces the traditional gear lever. That said, it’s perfectly easy to use and should become second nature fairly quickly.

However, the biggest problem with the automatic gearbox is, without a doubt, the standard manual gearbox. It’s one of the best-feeling manual transmissions in this segment, with a smooth, well-weighted shift action that’s both easy-to-use and enjoyable at the same time.

The manual’s also cheaper so, unless you really must have the automatic, save your money.

Focus ST: punchy petrol and diesel engines

Two engines are on offer for the performance version of the Ford Focus: a 2.3-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel.

The 2.3-litre petrol, a variant of which is found in the Mustang, produces 280hp and 420Nm of torque. While that is 30hp more than the old model, it’s the latter figure that makes the biggest difference in everyday driving. The 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds is 0.8 seconds quicker over the old model, too, and Ford claim this ST is quicker through the gears than even the previous Focus RS.

Ford Focus ST 2.3-litre engine

Having the full 420Nm of torque between 3,000-4,000rpm helps, but this also lets you drive the ST in a couple of different ways: you can work the engine hard and wring out all the engine’s potential by revving all the way up to the limiter, or make ample progress by just using the engine’s mid-range muscle.

Ford have been keen to point out the engine’s lag reduction system for the turbocharger, too. This keeps the turbocharger spinning a little longer when you lift off the accelerator pedal to try and maintain a responsive power delivery, but we found little effect during our time of testing.

The diesel 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine, on the other hand, produces 190hp and 400Nm of torque – which allows the ST to sprint from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. Buyers of the 2.3-litre petrol manual can also opt for the Performance Pack which adds a rev-matching function, a shift indicator, launch control and an additional Track drive mode – the latter of which sharpens up the limited-slip differential and reduces the level of intervention from the ESC system.

Ford Focus ST drive modes

Otherwise the standard drive modes of Slippery/Wet, Normal and Sport are here, adjusting the accelerator sensitivity, steering and artificial engine sound. Both engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with a shorter shift throw compared with standard models. A seven-speed automatic option, with steering wheel mounted shift paddles, will arrive later.  

The short-throw manual gearbox is gratifying to use, but the gearing seems a little odd. We often found ourselves hanging on to second gear a lot of the time, as shifting up into third would leave us just far enough outside the engine’s power range to lose momentum.

Handling

  • Superb handling and driveability
  • Easy to drive around town
  • Optional damper set-up best avoided

Since the excellent-to-drive original was launched back in 1998, superb handling has been a hallmark of the Ford Focus hatchback. And, with this latest model, it’s certainly no different.

Superb fun to drive right across the range

We’ve only driven the Focus on the upgraded multi-link suspension set-up (standard on 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel models), and in this configuration the Ford is truly one of the best-handling cars in the medium-sized hatchback class.

There’s a beautifully judged balance between composure and stiffness in the chassis, meaning even the bumpiest of Britain’s B-roads won’t be able to unsettle the Focus during an enthusiastic drive.

The steering is well weighted (although this can be changed in the drive mode selector) and it’s sharp and accurate, too. You don’t feel an exceptional amount of what’s going on at the wheels through the steering wheel, but it’s no worse than in its rivals.

Focus ST-Line X handling

Grip is exceptionally high, and you’ll struggle to get the Focus to break traction in normal driving conditions. It’s also worth noting that for that final nuance of enjoyability, the ST-Line models come with specially tuned suspension that sits 10mm lower than standard cars.

Easy to drive at low speeds

Once you tear yourself away from the nearest twisty road, the Focus proves well suited to driving in an urban environment. The turning circle is manageable, and the control weights are such that it’s easy to drive.

Visibility is good, except for the chunky rear pillar that could obscure a pedestrian or lamppost as you’re reversing. That said, Ford has given the automatic Focus an updated version of its automatic parking technology, Active Park Assist 2 (manual versions get regular Active Park Assist), which allows the vehicle to scan for a space and theoretically park itself with minimal input from the driver.

Switchable drive modes and optional adaptive damping

All Ford Focus models come fitted with a drive mode selector button, which allows the user to choose between three different settings – Normal, Sport and Eco (plus Comfort and Comfort Eco for cars fitted with adaptive dampers). Each mode tweaks the accelerator sensitivity, steering weighting, gearbox (automatic only) and adaptive cruise control (when fitted) settings.

Ford also offers Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) as an option on ST-Line X, Titanium X and Vignale models. This adaptive damping system adjusts the front and rear dampers to either provide greater comfort or to give the car a sportier feel.

The standard chassis is excellent as it is, yet – when fitted with the CCD technology – the Focus feels considerably less stable in faster bends, while adding nothing to overall comfort levels. It likely needs a bit of fine tuning, so we’ll keep an eye on this to see if it gets any better on later models. From what we’ve experienced so far, in the meantime, save your money and leave that particular option box unticked.

Driven: Ford Focus 125hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost

The 125hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost delivers a healthy amount of real-world performance and refinement for such a small engine, which is why it’s the most popular engine in the range. While a 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds isn’t outrageous, the 200Nm of torque on offer means that in-gear acceleration is suitably punchy – and reduces the need to have to work the gearbox in order to get the best out of the engine.

Not that that would be any real hardship, as the standard six-speed manual transmission is a joy to use. Precise and with a short, crisp action, it’s one of the best on offer among the car’s rivals.

Driven: Ford Focus 120hp 1.5-litre EcoBlue

Ford Focus 120hp 1.5-litre EcoBlue

The mid-range 120hp diesel strikes a pleasant balance between efficiency and performance. It delivers around 45mpg in the real-world and, while its performance isn’t exceptional and those with a heavy foot may find themselves constantly pinning the accelerator, there’s more than enough to get the Focus up to speed in a timely fashion. It’s also responsive at low revs, meaning you can pull away in a hurry with minimal fuss.

Pair it with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission and the on-paper performance figures are only marginally inferior, but responsiveness can suffer. The gearbox often takes a while to decide which ratio is best, while using the paddles often feels like a pointless exercise.

Engine refinement is acceptable most of the time, yet there’s a considerable amount of noise straight after start-up until the car has come up to temperature – something that doesn’t happen for around 15 minutes.

Driven: Ford Focus ST

Ford Focus ST handling

How sharp the Focus ST drives will be down to the choice of engine you make. The petrol engine comes with adaptive suspension as standard, which works much better than it does in the standard Focus, while that set-up is optional on the diesel. We’ve tested the petrol ST and found it to be great fun to drive, combining taut body control, a sharp steering response and plenty of grip – all while maintaining a comfortable ride quality.

The firmness of the adaptive dampers changes in relation to the selected drive modes, although Ford decided to forgo an individual mode this time round. Consequently, you can’t configure all of the individual aspects to meet your exact requirements.

The steering is not only sharper compared with the standard Ford Focus, but sharper than the old ST as well. This, in conjunction with the electronically controlled limited-slip differential, means the ST has plenty of front-end bite at its disposal. 

You don’t have to drive very far in the ST before you find yourself building a rhythm down your favourite road, as a result. Think of the ST as more of a Volkswagen Golf TCR rival, rather than a Golf GTI Performance – a performance hatchback that’s a little more focused on agility and grip than everyday comfort.

The electronic brake booster also helps build confidence as it provides a quicker response over a conventional system, but it also helps to maintain brake pedal pressure during heavy use.