Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1
  • Cabin is laid out logically
  • Sync3 infotainment system remains
  • Optional head-up display

How is the quality and layout?

Ford has fitted a more upmarket and user-friendly interior design for the Focus. 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 than the old model.

Material quality is also improved, yet it still falls short of rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, even on top-spec Vignale models. 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), meaning most people should be able to get comfortable without any issue.

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

Infotainment and tech

All models now come with an 8.0-inch screen. Earlier, cheaper cars were fitted with a smaller 6.5-inch unit, so if you buy used, the larger one is reserved for more expensive models. Ford calls its infotainment system Sync3 and it’s largely the same as what you’d find in the smaller Ford Fiesta. 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. That said, as newer rivals migrate all of their functions - including the climate control and drive mode selector - onto the touchscreen media system, the Focus and it's continued use of buttons means it remains far more user friendly to use over time.

Some of the air-con controls buttons may be the same size and the dash may not look as clean as those with just a touchscreen, but this is a far less distracting setup to use, especially when you want to make a minor adjustment when driving.

Ford SYNC3 screen 2020

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

The gearlever 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. Also, due to the freed-up space, these buttons are rearranged into a cluster and you get larger cupholders positioned further forward.

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, further frees up vital space around the centre console.

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. It’s nice and clear, provides a handy digital speedometer and isn’t too difficult to navigate your way around using the buttons on the steering wheel.

This 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.

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, has good contrast 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.

Ford Focus head-up display 2020

Ford Focus ST infotainment and tech

Choosing the sportiest model in the range grants you a set of heavily bolstered and ultra-grippy Recaro seats up front, a sportier steering wheel, silver pedals and scuff plates, a short-throw gearshift for the manual gearbox and ST-branded mats.

It does feel like they could've put more effort into the cabin, however, as the interior feels dark and monochromatic, with its widespread use of grey colours – the carbon-effect dash inserts do very little to lift the mood and look gloss black for the majority of the time anyway.

The traditional pod of gauges sat on the centre of the dash in previous Focus STs has also gone, so what gave the ST that special touch has been lost. You’ll instead find them individually on 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.

Comfort

  • One of the best in class for comfort
  • Superb ride quality, average 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.

The Ford Focus has a superbly judged ride on the upgraded multilink suspension setup fitted to 2.0-litre diesel and Vignale models (ST models also have this, but their own, much firmer setting). 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.

Those on the standard setup are noticeably bouncy in comparison, sending a few more thumps into the cabin.

Ford Focus Titanium 2020

Petrol versions are the quietest, unsurprisingly, yet the diesel motors far from embarrass themselves – even when revved hard - most of the time. There’s a considerable amount of noise on a cold start-up from the 1.5-litre diesel until the car has come up to temperature – which can take around 15 minutes.

Wind and road noise at motorway speeds is on a par with rivals in this class – better than before, but still a noticeable amount of wind noise from the door mirrors - largely due to the rest of the driving experience being relatively hushed.

The 155hp version of the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol was a little disappointing, however, sending more vibrations into the cabin than the others in colder conditions.

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 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 interior

Ford Focus ST comfort

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. The seating position is low enough, as well as offering a good amount of lumbar and thigh support. The taller-backed sports seats don’t block the view ahead for those sat behind you by much, either.

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 ride on the 19-inch wheels may be firm, but it's far from choppy.

Opt for the adaptive dampers and this also comes with a system that detects potholes 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. That said, the standard springs are already up to the job, so don't opt for the Performance Pack for the sake of these dampers.