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View all Ford Focus reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
  • Cabin is laid out logically
  • Sync3 infotainment system remains
  • Optional head-up display

Ford promises a new, more upmarket, more user-friendly interior design for the Focus and it’s definitely achieved this. From the moment you step in, it’s clear that the cabin is in a different league to the previous car, with a tighter, cleaner design and more logical layout.

Material quality is also improved, yet it still falls short of rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, even on top-spec Vignale models.

Either 6.5- or 8.0-inch colour touchscreen and Sync3 infotainment

On all but the base-spec Style models, the Ford Focus comes with a tablet-style 6.5-inch touchscreen (8.0-inch on ST-Line X, Titanium, Titanium X and Vignale versions) running the latest Sync3 infotainment system. It’s largely the same as what you’d find in the Fiesta, and while the placement and design of the screen might look like an afterthought to some, the display is bright and the graphics clear.

Simple tasks such as changing the radio or plugging a destination in the sat-nav could be easier, though, with Sync3 still lagging behind rivals for outright ease of use.

Cast your eyes down further and you’ll notice that Ford has elected not to replace its air-con controls with on-screen buttons, instead sticking with the traditional rotary dials. Like the rest of the cabin, they feel decently engineered and solidly built, if not boasting quite the same material quality as the Volkswagen Golf.

Ford SYNC3 screen

Meanwhile, the area around the gear lever (gear selector on automatic models) is complemented with a small number of large, easy-to-identify buttons that control systems such as the head-up display, parking assistance, drive modes and traction control. It’s a well-designed layout, and one that shouldn’t take users long to master.

Minor differences for ST model

Choosing the sportiest model in the range grants you a set of heavily bolstered and ultra-grippy Recaro seats up front. The traditional gauge cluster sat on the centre of the dash in previous Focus STs has now also gone and you’ll instead find them in the driver’s trip computer display.

The drive mode button that lives beside the gear lever has been relocated on the ST to the steering wheel. It’s located among the trip computer controls, and a secondary button that directly switches to Sport mode is also positioned here – saving you from having to scroll through the alternative modes available each time.

Ford Focus ST Sport mode button

Ford’s ST also comes with a sportier steering wheel, silver pedals and scuff plates, a short-throw gearshift for the manual gearbox and ST-branded mats.

No more handbrake or gear lever for automatics

Following the lead of many of its rivals, Ford has elected to give the Focus an electronic handbrake switch instead of the traditional lever – which, among other things, frees up vital space around the centre console.

The gear lever has also been jettisoned on automatic models, and in its place is a rotary dial gear selector such as those seen on Jaguar-Land Rover products. It’s perfectly easy to use, but don’t be surprised if you grab for an imaginary lever the first few times you drive the Focus. 

Clear dials complemented by digital dashboard display

The Focus has carried over the simple but easy-to-understand analogue dials of its Fiesta sibling, with a 4.2-inch digital dashboard display sandwiched between two dials on higher-spec models. It’s nice and clear, provides a handy digital speedometer and isn’t too difficult to navigate your way around using the (admittedly excessive) number of buttons on the steering wheel.

Optional head-up display (HUD)

The Focus is the first Ford sold in Europe to offer the option of a head-up display. It’s designed to reduce the driver’s need to take their eyes off the road and is capable of displaying traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, sat-nav directions, a gearshift indicator, entertainment and emergency notifications.

Ford Focus head-up display

Unlike systems found on Audi and Mercedes-Benz models, the Focus’ head-up display uses a small polycarbonate screen that pops out of the dashboard to project the image on to. It doesn’t look as good as those that project straight on to the windscreen, yet the image is clear and easily large enough.

Another bonus is that thanks to special filters within the polycarbonate, the head-up display can be seen by those wearing polarising lenses in their glasses or sunglasses.

Well-judged driving position and comfortable seats

Get behind the wheel of the Focus and you’ll find there’s plenty of adjustment in the driver’s seat (electronic adjustment is optional), while forwards visibility is ample. Turn around and the chunky rear pillars may be an issue when reversing, but this isn’t uncommon among the cars in this segment.

The leather-lined steering wheel in the ST-Line and Vignale models is particularly tactile and affords the driver good grip and control. As mentioned above, however, the sheer number of buttons on the wheel may take some getting used to.

Comfort

  • One of the best in class for comfort
  • Superb ride quality and excellent refinement
  • Adaptive dampers not worth the money

Teaming fun, sharp handling with excellent comfort is a struggle that even the manufacturers of the most expensive cars face, so the fact that Ford has nailed the balance so perfectly on the Focus is mightily impressive.

Superb ride quality

The Ford Focus has a superbly judged ride on the upgraded multilink suspension set-up fitted to 1.5-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel models. You barely notice as it expertly irons out the bumps and ruts in the road, delivering superb composure even on the worst surfaces.

Even if you hit a speed hump too quickly or rattle through a large pothole, the isolation in the cabin is excellent and something that very few, if any, of the Focus’ rivals can match.

Excellent all-round refinement

The lack of wind and road noise, even at motorway speeds, is impressive for a car in this class – and puts many larger, more premium rivals to shame. There’s a little noticeable wind noise from the door mirrors, yet this is largely due to the rest of the driving experience being so hushed.

Ford Focus Titanium

Petrol versions are the quietest, unsurprisingly, yet the diesel motors far from embarrass themselves – even when revved hard.

Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) available as an option

Ford’s adaptive damper technology may look like an attractive option on the price list, but we’d steer well clear. In Comfort mode it doesn’t do anything to improve the ride quality, while in Sport mode the car takes on a harsh, choppy feel that doesn’t reflect the excellent ride of the standard suspension.

Comfortable, supportive seats

We’ve only tried the luxurious, all-leather upholstery pews in the Vignale and sporty seats of the ST-Line thus far, but we can report both are as comfy as you’d hope. There’s plenty of support around the upper and lower body (especially on ST-Line cars) while there’s enough give to make them comfy on a long journey.

Optional 18-way manually adjustable Comfort Seats are available on Style, Zetec and Titanium models if you fancy an upgrade over the standard seats. Meanwhile, six-way power adjustable seats are standard on ST-Line X, Titanium X and Vignale models.

Ford Focus front seats

Focus ST is comfortable enough for daily use

The leather and Alcantara-trimmed front Recaro seats on the ST are comfortable, even on longer trips – and there’s also ample side support to keep you held in place when driving on twisty roads.

When you want to settle down to a cruise, the ST remains just as refined as a regular Focus. The engine remains hushed when set to Normal drive mode, with the artificial sound actuator producing a distant rumble in the background to subtly remind you of the STs sportier nature. There’s little vibration from the driver’s controls and the standard-fit adaptive suspension on the petrol-powered model absorbs road bumps well, even when fitted with the optional 19-inch wheels.

The adaptive dampers also come with a system that detects pot holes to minimise the distance travelled by each wheel. This reduces the amount of force on the wheel and suspension, which in turn transmits less of a thud into the cabin.