14 October 2023

Ford Focus Review: Trish Whelan, Irish Car

I was feeling quite nostalgic when test driving the face-lifted fourth-generation of the Ford Focus that went on sale here last year, as it is the last model I will have the pleasure of driving because Ford plan to end production of it in 2025. 

The company will solely focus on electric vehicles going forward (pun fully intended). 

Focus made its debut in 1998 as a replacement for the ageing Ford Escort and became an instant hit with motorists. It has undergone several facelifts since then and a variety of body styles including five-door hatch, estate, saloon and cabriolet. It’s a car that I have driven extensively at home and abroad for at least two decades. 

Focus is still a much loved mid-sized family car that has been the means of transport for thousands of owners and their families, and which has always managed to keep up-to-date with new styling, technologies and engines down the years. The reasoning behind ending Focus is that buyers nowadays want to drive larger crossovers and SUVs, not small compact cars. 

The facelifted model has already sold 1,121 this year, an 11.99pc increase on last year’s total sales (SIMI figures), which is ahead of the Blue Oval’s Puma crossover at 1,085 and Kuga SUV at 1,033. The slight facelift mainly involves changes to the front end with a trapezoidal upper grille supported by a gloss black honeycomb finish alongside broader side vents and a deeper lower grille. ST-Line variants feature side skirts, a rear diffuser and a discreet rear spoiler and polished twin tailpipes, red brake calipers, and special ST-Line badges on the outside and in the cabin. 

The spacious interior has lovely premium padded seats with red stitching which are attractive and comfortable. Front ones can be heated and the driver’s gets lumbar support. There is plenty of rear legroom even behind a 6ft 2ins person in front and good headroom. Red stitching was also on the steering wheel and gear gaiter. The dash is dominated by a 13.2-inch touchscreen which incorporates controls for heating and ventilation (previously activated by physical buttons which I prefer to having to scroll through screens). The system also has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility allowing you to integrate between smartphone functions and Ford’s SYNC4 which also enables wireless software updates, and a big easy-to-read 12.3-inch driver’s digital cluster. 

Luggage space is a decent 340 litres with rear seats in place and the adjustable load floor can create two separate spaces to keep items more secure. There is a temporary spare. My car also had a B & O Premium Audio with 10 speakers which elevated the whole audio experience. 

My recent drive was in the ST-Line X, powered by Ford's brilliant little 3-cylinder 1.0 EcoBoost 125hp matched to a smooth 6-speed manual gearbox and with 170Nm of torque. Together they can move the car from 0-100km/h in 10.2 secs which is quick enough for most peoples’ everyday driving. Annual road tax is €200. While the claimed fuel return is 5.1L/100kms, my car showed a return of 6.5 litres over a week of ‘ordinary’ driving. 

The comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance technologies (ADAS) includes Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking and Pedestrian/Cyclist detection. Standard were 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights, rear privacy glass, heated front seats and steering wheel, heated windscreen, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, wireless charging, Ford SYNC 4 Navigation, dual zone climate control. Onboard extras of a Driver Assist Pack, Driver Alert, Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Auto High Beam amounted to €1,105. 

On the road, I had a nice comfy driving position and found this a great car to drive - beautifully balanced and with good acceleration, is plenty agile and delivers sharp handling due to the lowered sports tuned suspension that helps it corner so well. It is also so easy to park even in tight spots and, of course, offers better fuel economy that the ST models with more powerful engines. Myriads of Focus owners will lament its passing in 2025.

Priced from €36,347. My car is from €36,347. Prices exclude delivery and related charges.