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View all Ford Focus reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6

Update 1: Introduction

James standing next to his Ford Focus ST Line X

Introducing the fourth-generation Ford Focus hatchback. A favourite of the British car-buying public and a 2019 Parkers Awards winner, this Desert Island Blue ST-Line X Focus – in 120hp 1.5 TDCi spec ­– is in my care for the next few months, during which I plan to subject it to the finest that my 200-mile daily commute has to offer. What a lucky car.

And what a lucky ‘owner’. I’ve always fancied a Focus since I saw the first-generation RS model operating as pace car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, it’s bold, sporty styling and genuine attainability making it seem far more attractive than the assembled supercars. Granted, this isn’t an RS model, but it does look the part nonetheless, oddly coming across far better in person than it does in any photo.

So without further or do, here’s all you need to know about our new addition.

Ford Focus: equipment and price

Coming in high-spec ST-Line X trim, there’s plenty of standard kit aboard the good ship Focus, including:

  • Heated front seats
  • 6-way power adjustable driver’s seat
  • Ford Sync3 infotainment system with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 4.2-inch TFT digital dashboard display
  • Cruise control
  • Selectable drive modes
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Enough bodykit to make the car look almost identical to the upcoming ST
  • Ford Focus interior

Ford Focus ST Line X adaptive cruise control switches

A tidy selection of kit, and one that brings the standard on the road price to £26,410. Throw in a few options however – like Ford’s press office has kindly done – and the total price increases to a rather un-Focus like £31,450 (a £5,040 premium). Additional gadgetry includes:

  • Desert Island Blue paintjob (looks superb)
  • Heads-up display
  • Heated steering wheel (would have chipped in my own money for this)
  • Driver Assistance Pack & Convenience Pack (more on what these do in a later update)
  • B&O Play 10-speaker sound system with 675-watt amplifier and Digital Sound Processor (should drown out my shrill singing voice)

Needless to say, there’s plenty of talking points in the above kit list – all to be addressed as I spend more time with the Focus over the next few months. Remember to check back on this page next week as I deliver my first impressions of the car, and promptly discover it’s already been damaged in one of the worst possible places…

Mileage: 4036

Fuel ecomomy: 64.2mpg (claimed)

Update 2: Performance and handling

Under the bonnet my of new steed is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder EcoBlue diesel, packing 120hp and 300Nm of torque. This translates into a 0-62mph time of 10.2 seconds, a top speed of 120mph, claimed average fuel economy of 64.2mpg and a CO2 output of 116g/km. The gearbox, meanwhile, is an eight-speed automatic with manual override via paddles on the steering wheel.

So, essentially, we've got a small (one of the smallest on sale), frugal diesel engine with moderate CO2 returns and average performance. In reality, it’s a competent, agreeable engine, yet I can’t help but feel I’d enjoy the car far more if it was upgraded to the 150hp 2.0-litre diesel. It would be unfair to say the 120hp version is slow, but it’s certainly not fast and I’ve been left wanting a few times for that extra bit of performance. It’s always very loud when cold, too, although this isn’t a massive issue.

Ford Focus ST Line X rear driving shot

The gearbox, meanwhile, does a decent job of shuffling between the eight forward speeds, but it’s not as polished or crisp as a DSG Volkswagen Group unit. Down changes can often feel clunky, plus the override paddles behind the steering wheel fail to elicit a particularly snappy response from the actual gearbox.

Sweet-handling Focus is back

A quick history lesson. The original Ford Focus made an instant impact thanks partly to its fabulous handling and this was duly carried through into the second-generation car.  The Mk3, version, however, was somewhat blunter to drive and allowed rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Mazda 3 to catch up.

Happily, though, it seems that Ford has made a return to form with this latest Focus. Early opportunities to throw it around a little have shown it to possess a poised, well-balanced chassis with tremendous grip from the front wheels. The weighting of the steering can feel a little odd at times, and I’m not sold on the feel of the brakes, but these issues aside the fourth-generation Focus handles superbly.

Mileage: 4393

Fuel ecomomy: 34.3mpg

Update 3: Having a cracking time

Disaster. ‘My’ Ford Focus has taken damage in the most fragile of places. I’m not quite sure how it happened – the Clancy Docwra lorry that flicked stones up at the car is a prime suspect – but the end result is a small crack right in the corner of the windscreen.

Fearing the worst (can you even repair a heated windscreen?) I ring Ford and break the bad news. My fears over the possibility of a repair are – thankfully – unfounded.  After examining the photos – Ford suggests that I go down to my local Halfords and get one of the on-site technicians to fill imperfection with that magic gooey stuff that – at the very least – reduces the chance of a humungous crack forming across the windscreen.

Ford Focus ST Line X chipped windscreen

Once at Halford’s Uxbridge branch, the queue is short and my wounded Focus is seen immediately, the windscreen repairer looking excited as he recognises the shape of the fourth-generation Ford Focus. ‘I’ve got a Mk3 RS myself. Love it, but it’s a bit thirsty so I’m thinking of getting one of these’.

Our jovial chat is sadly ended, however, when he sees the location of the crack. Since it’s so close to the edge of the screen, the repair can’t be done without risk of cracking the entire piece of glass. Not something I knew, and I’m not alone according to the repairer, with many customers booking their car in not realising that a quick fix to the outer edge of the screen isn’t possible.

Running the Focus as a long-termer, I’m fortunate enough not to have to fit the bill for a brand-new windscreen, yet there’s no doubt that the heated element adds a fair chunk extra to the total repair bill.

Mileage: 5155

Fuel ecomomy: 38.9mpg

Update 4: Interior and equipment

There’s been a bit of a disagreement in the office. Some of my ‘expert’ colleagues have decided that the Focus’ interior isn’t as good as a number of key rivals and that I – by running one – have become somewhat biased in favour of the blue hatch. While the latter may be true (it happens to all of us), the former – in my opinion – is certainly not.

Granted, some of the material quality could be better, but the overall design and ease of use granted by the Focus is superb. The steering wheel for example, is a lesson in ergonomic bliss. Nicely trimmed in ST-Line X leather, the buttons are easy to find and pleasant to the touch making volume or cruise control adjustment a cinch. Meanwhile, the centre console balances functionality between touch screen and physical dials perfectly. No faffing about to find the climate control or heated seat buttons.

Ford Focus ST Line X interior

The equipment on offer is genuinely effective, too. The adaptive cruise control and lane guidance systems work better than on many cars costing three times as much, keeping the Focus at a constant distance from the vehicle in front and holding it deftly in lane. I’ve also taken much joy from the electric sunroof, standard-fit Apple CarPlay (the Ford sat-nav is good, but not as good as Waze) and sporty yet comfortable leather seats.

Not so good is the automatic parking function (which can be hit and miss, plus refuses to work when exiting a space) and the Bang & Olufsen stereo that, while powerful, keeps vibrating the driver’s side speaker. I suspect a full-base thrash metal session from one of my unnamed colleagues (begins with Adam, ends with Binnie) could be responsible.

One other handy piece of kit that I feel is worth pointing out is the FordPass app and the additional functionality it gives.

Mileage, fuel and tyre pressures all accessible

Using the FordPass app (downloadable on the App Store and Google Play), I can see how much fuel is left in my car, how many miles it’s done, what the tyre pressures are and where it’s parked.

Ford Focus ST Line X Ford Pass

Such details may sound trivial, yet they’ve already come in useful. Forgetting how much fuel is left in your car is a common occurrence, while the ability to see where it’s parked helps keep an eye on errant airport valet parkers. I still haven’t had an explanation as to why my car needed to be parked outside Hounslow KFC at 2:30am last week…

Remote start and unlocking/locking

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the FordPass functionality, however, is the remote start and unlocking/locking. The former is only available on automatic versions (designed to ensure that car doesn’t jump forwards if left in gear) and allows you to launch the FordPass app, hit the start engine button and fire up your Focus from anywhere in the world. Clever.

Why would you want to do that?

For example, unless you’ve been living under a sun-proof rock, it’s been rather hot recently. And before that, as things go, it was jolly cold. Remote starting the Focus brings the car to a comfortable temperature, as well as defrosting the windscreen and cranking up the heated seats/steering wheel – if needs be. So no freezing cold morning starts, or climbing into a sweltering hot car after work. Joy.

I should make it clear at this point that remote starting the car does not simply allow you to walk up to it, get in and drive off. For starters, to access the car (even when it’s running) you need the key. Without this it remains locked just as if the engine were not running.

Ford Focus ST Line X Ford Pass

And once you do get in you still need to have the key on you and hit the on button if you want to move the vehicle, minimising the chance of the car getting stolen due to the remote start. Indeed, if the vehicle is left running too long without anyone getting in, it’ll automatically switch off again.

Mileage: 5809

Fuel ecomomy: 41.5mpg