We recently revisited the fourth-generation Ford Focus to find out why it’s consistently one of the UK’s best selling new and used cars, and were surprised at how practical it still is. From the styling and performance to the reliability and practicality, there’s an argument to be made that the Ford Focus is one of the best all-rounders on the car market.
Even if you’re as convinced as us about how practical the hatchback is, it helps to know what other options are out there. As the hatchback segment continually produces some of the best cars on the road, here’s our three picks for cars similar to the Ford Focus.
It seems the Ford Focus will always be uttered in the same breath as the Volkswagen Golf, with the two hatchbacks offering a rivalry that’s up there with Nintendo and Sega or Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Every time a new Ford Focus is released, it seems to match the Volkswagen Golf’s offering, only for VW to then tweak their hatchback ever so slightly to push it ahead of the competition once again to ensure it’s always in the forefront of drivers minds when they want a hatchback.
While the Golf is traditionally more expensive than the Focus, it has always been a car you can rely on for fun driving, sleek styling and good value for money. These are all things the Focus offers too however, so what is it that always seems to keep the Golf one step ahead of its main competitor?
Step inside the Golf and you’ll see for yourself. The interior offers a level of refinement and comfort that remains unmatched at this price point in the hatchback segment, offering a smart, clean, modern and high-tech cabin with plenty of space. While the Focus and other cars on this list are constantly improving their offering, VW continually raise the bar with each successive Golf release.
There’s also a really nice touch in the angle of the central console, which automatically leads the drivers gaze to a well-refined touchscreen infotainment system and digital driver display.
On top of that, the efficient door seals and thicker glass mean the interior remains almost completely protected from road noise, and the new, smarter suspension also does a magnificent job of soaking up bumps and potholes in the road, allowing you to focus on enjoying the drive.
The newest model on the list, the Vauxhall Astra entered its eight generation when it was released toward the end of 2021 and has really upped its game to provide a viable challenge to the Focus and Golf.
Historically, the Astra has always offered drivers value for money first and foremost. As such, while it has been able to offer a comparable driving experience to other hatchbacks, it has typically suffered when it comes to general finishings around the interior.
All this has changed in the latest model, with the Astra benefitting from Vauxhall being part of the Stellantis conglomerate. As such, while the Astra range now offers a plug-in hybrid option, refinement has taken a massive leap over previous models.
Inside, Vauxhall has focused on detoxing the interior – making it simple and intuitive to use. Vauxhall’s Pure Panel digital interface dominates the interior. All models from launch also feature a 10-inch driver instrument cluster and a 10-inch digital touchscreen with satellite navigation as standard.
The full glass, edge-to-edge Pure Panel Pro consists of a new Human-Machine Interface (HMI). This helps reduce the need for analogue buttons, making it easier to access features via the infotainment screen. Everyday functions like speaker volume and air-conditioning temperature remain hard keyed for ease of access.
On top of all that, the front seats are AGR-certified for healthy backs. With their exemplary ergonomics, the seats are exceedingly comfortable, especially on long journeys.
With an all-new Honda Civic on the way this year, it’s expected that Honda will up their game yet again when it comes to their famed hatchback. While it’s often overshadowed by the Type R performance derivative, Honda’s regular Civic has always been a solid and reliable if unconventional choice in the hatchback segment.
Although the outgoing model has been on sale for five year now and is certainly dated compared to the others on this list, prior to launch it underwent the single largest development programme in Honda’s 70-year history, essentially rebuilding the car from the ground up. That means it’s still relatively fresh and provides drivers with access to a cost-effective hatchback that ticks all the boxes and is one of the cars similar to Ford Focus.
On top of that, it is distinct in its bold and aggressive styling compared to others on this list. While that might not appeal to everyone, it hits home just how unassuming the Golf, Focus and Astra all are in the design department.
None of this as at the expense of comfort and ergonomics either. It handles smoothly on the road, with gearbox, analogue dials, digital displays, menu options and more all easily to hand from the admittedly-low driving position. Up front there is plenty of leg and head room, with electrically adjustable lumbar support offered, while even taller adults won’t feel cramped in the back seat.