Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1

Should you buy one?

The Ford Focus is better than ever. It’s the real deal, buoyed by lots of clever tech, excellent practicality and an on-road performance that most of its rivals can only dream about. A lack of any hybrid or electric versions may harm its outright score right now, but make no mistake – this is not far off the Volkswagen Golf and the Skoda Octavia hatchback. It's cheaper to buy, too, which still puts it up there with the very best.

What we like

The Focus is the best-driving family hatchback by a country mile right now – the steering and handling are sharp and well judged, but this precision does not come at the expense of ride quality.

But there's more to the Focus than its dynamic prowess. You get lots of equipment for the money, and the prices are competitive before you start shopping around for deals. And finally, considering its sleek, low-roofed styling, there's ample space in the rear for passengers, making it an excellent family car whether you're driving or riding in it.

What we don't like

The main downside of the Focus is that in a market sector packed with high-quality offerings, the low-rent interior is a bit of a letdown. The lack of a plug-in hybrid is also a disappointment, especially considering that the Kuga is offered so equipped. We suspect Ford won't take too long to put right that situation.

Which Focus is best for you?

For the cheapest Ford Focus, a base-spec Zetec with the 125hp 1.0-litre engine is your best bet. This strikes the right balance between fuel economy, CO2 and performance. Equipment levels are generous on Zetec cars too.

Company car drivers should head for the 120hp 1.5-litre EcoBlue versions for the lowest CO2 and best fuel consumption. Performance fans should head for the ST, although the diesel engine is also a worthy contender if you want the sporty looks and handling without the higher running costs.

If the ST diesel is still too much, though, the 155hp 1.0-litre EcoBoost or 2.0-litre 150hp diesel ST-Line might be a good middle ground, thanks to the Focus’ excellent chassis that remains fun to drive.

The automatic gearbox 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.

Options worth going for include the head-up display, Driver Assistance Pack (featuring adaptive cruise control) and the Convenience Pack (including Active Park Assist automatic parking and a reversing camera).

Further reading