FORD says its new generation Focus was “designed from a clean sheet of paper”.

The result is a Focus far removed from the previous version but retaining its superb performance and low running costs.

From the outside, there has been a quite radical shift in the design. So much so that I found casual admirers questioning whether it was indeed a Focus.

But it is on the inside that the designers and technicians have been at their most productive.

For starters, there’s a new stop and go system, speed sign recognition and lane-centring technologies.

The big news is the arrival of the first head-up display for a Ford model in Europe plus a parking system that enables fully automated manoeuvres at the push of a button.

Add to these the selectable drive modes that come as standard and an eight-inch touchscreen for all your connectivity and navigation requirements and you have a thoroughly modern Focus.

But let’s not forget what made the Focus so popular – the fact that it’s a great car to drive.

There’s now a 20 per cent torsional rigidity improvement and isolated independent rear suspension offering continuously controlled damping – a first for Focus.

And those EcoBoost petrol and EcoBlue diesel engines supported by new eight-speed automatic transmission offer a ten per cent fuel-efficiency improvement across the range.

Faster, more extreme versions of the Focus in ST or RS form have a huge fan club, but Ford is now offering a slightly more conservative alternative with its ST-Line alternative, which is also available on the Fiesta.

Ford’s Adaptive Front Lighting System with new camera-based Predictive curve light and Sign-based light that pre-adjust headlamp patterns for improved visibility by monitoring bends in the road and – for the first time in the industry – road signs.

Evasive Steering Assist, a segment-first technology that helps drivers steer around stopped or slower vehicles to help avoid collisions

Powertrain options include a further optimised version of Ford’s multi-award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost and new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, both enhanced with Ford’s industry-first cylinder deactivation application for three-cylinder engines. New 1.5-litre EcoBlue and 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engines deliver ultimate fuel-efficiency, and a new intelligent eight-speed automatic transmission adapts shift patterns to driving style, and is controlled using a stylish and ergonomic Rotary Gear Shift Dial.

Unveiled in five-door hatchback, wagon and in selected markets four-door body styles, the most comprehensive Focus line-up ever is offered with exclusive personalities to complement the broadest spectrum of mid-sized car customer aspirations, including the stylish Focus Trend and Titanium, sporty Focus ST-Line, upscale Focus Vignale and the first Focus Active crossover.

This new Focus is the first vehicle globally to be based on Ford’s new C2 platform, designed to enhance crash performance, deliver more interior space and allow for improved aerodynamics for better fuel-efficiency.

Ford has also upped its game regarding craftsmanship and quality to position the Focus within a smidgen of premium brands.

On the outside, the premium, sporting silhouette has been achieved principally through positioning the A-pillars further rearward.

The face features a discernibly larger Ford grille that sits between the horizontally-biased headlamps, which, like the taillamps, are placed as far outboard as possible to enhance width and stance.

The taillamps are now two-piece, allowing for a more versatile deck-lid opening, while LED lighting technologies provide distinctly recognisable signatures in daylight and darkness.

The Focus ST-Line’s more aggressively styled rear diffuser and larger functional roof-spoiler; more open front apertures designed to enhance performance and reveal the engine components behind; and bold signature ST-Line lower wing elements directing air to the air-curtain inlets

Inside, you will find that the upper instrument panel and door interiors are constructed from soft touch materials for a more premium feel.

As with the exterior, the interiors of the all-new Focus derivatives feature unique design elements and materials, including fine-grain wood-effect finishes and premium leather for Vignale, sporty carbon fibre-effect finishes and red stitching for the ST-Line, and more rugged materials and surfaces for the Active.

From the 10 millimetre lower Focus ST-Line with unique springs, dampers and stabiliser bars, to the more than 30 millimetre raised Focus Active with unique front and rear knuckles, the chassis of every derivative has been tuned to deliver the immediately recognisable Focus character.

Comfort is key to the more refined Focus experience. Front seat occupants will enjoy more generous shoulder room and instrument panel positioning is optimised for greater space.

For rear seat passengers, additional space is delivered by the longer wheelbase and flat floor. Knee clearance is improved by more than 50 millimetres compared with the outgoing Focus, for a best-in-class 81 millimetres. Shoulder-room is increased by almost 60 millimetres compared with the outgoing Focus. The impression of spaciousness is enhanced with a rear door design featuring windows that stretch into the rear pillar for a more open sensation, and an available openable panoramic roof.

Ford’s advanced new turbocharged EcoBlue diesel engines are designed to deliver higher power, more torque at low rpm, and enhanced fuel-efficiency and refinement for higher-mileage drivers. The new 1.5-litre EcoBlue is offered with 95 PS and 120 PS. The 2.0 litre EcoBlue engine delivers 150 PS.

Ford’s new quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission is engineered to further optimise fuel-efficiency and deliver responsive performance. It is available with 125 PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost, 150 PS 1.5-litre EcoBoost, 120 PS 1.5-litre EcoBlue and 150 PS 2.0-litre EcoBlue engines.

Prices start at £17,930 for the Focus Style – £2,300 below the model it replaces. Focus Zetec and ST-Line – together representing 55 per cent of sales – are now £850 and £250 less respectively.

For sporty drivers, the ST-Line offers unique body styling, including unique upper and lower grille, rear spoiler and polished twin tailpipes. Inside are a flat-bottomed steering wheel, black headlining, aluminium gearknob, alloy finish pedals and red stitching. The ST-Line X adds 18in alloy wheels, red brake calipers and many of the luxury features found on the Titanium X model.


Ford Focus ST-Line X

Price: from £26,410 (Focus range from £17,930)

Engine: 1.5-litre TDCI EcoBlue diesel, producing 120PS

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 10.2 seconds; top speed 120mph

Economy: 64.2mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 116g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ****