Ford Focus Review: Everything You Should Know About the UK’s Most Popular Hatchback

The Ford Focus is deemed as one of the best family cars money can buy.

Its ample space, accurate drive, refined comfort and market-leading technology make it a great all-rounder. 

Add the fact it’s available in both hatchback and estate form, and you can begin to see why it sells in such gargantuan numbers. 

Unlike some of its competitors, it’s good looking too, with an Aston Martin-esque front grille and plenty of sharp edges to catch the eye. 

As well, there’s a huge range of both styling and interior options in addition to an impressive list of specification choices. 

Really, when it comes to family hatchbacks, its only competitor is the Volkswagen Golf, as the Focus comfortably blows everything else out the water. 

So, it’s safe to say we’re a big fan of the Ford Focus. Now it’s time to explain why. You can read our full review below or click the specific section you want to find out more about. 

  1. Design & styling 
  2. MPG, running costs & environmental impact 
  3. Engines, drive & performance
  4. Interior 
  5. Practicality & boot space
  6. Reliability & safety 
  7. Cost and deals

Design & styling

The Ford Focus was once quite a drab and dreary thing. It looked lethargic – which isn’t how it drives – and too sensible for how it felt to own. 

Nowadays, though, that’s not the case. 

Ford Focus Side View

When you see the Focus, your eye is immediately drawn to the imposing front grille which gives it the appearance of something more prestigious than its price tag would suggest. 

And the rest of the car continues that expensive feel. 

Sharp front lights help accentuate the elongated bonnet which gives the Focus a more dynamic look, even in the estate. While its rear signage is clean and modern, helping highlight Ford’s renewed focus on innovation. 

Depending on which specification you choose will determine the car’s overall aura. 

From the entry-level Zetec to the Titanium and top-end Vignale, the Focus’ emphasis is firmly comfort and class, with chrome detailing, refined alloy wheel design and plush leather trim at the top of the range. 

However, the Focus can also be a racy corner crusher in the ST-Line and fully-fledged ST. A sportier setup, including exclusive ST styling – alongside the performance pack in the most expensive model – give it lower suspension, chunkier alloys, red brake callipers and a body-coloured rear spoiler. 

And if that’s not enough, there’s also a crossover-styled version; the Active, which adds black plastic wheel arches and rough road suspension to give it a slightly higher ride height and off-road appearance. 

When it comes to design and styling, Ford has covered all bases in the latest version of the Focus. 

No matter if you’re looking for an under-the-radar runabout, classy cruiser, sporty shifter or off-road ready crossover.

MPG, running costs & environmental impact

One of the standout highlights of the Ford Focus – and it’s something we haven’t even mentioned yet – is its engine. 

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost – the most popular Focus engine – is regarded as one of the best everyday car power units on the market right now. 

That’s because it gives you the fun of a turbo while helping keep running costs low. 

It does this by automatically shutting down one of its cylinders on gentle cruises leaving you with a very respectable 49.6mpg under WLTP testing. 

The impact of this means it’s actually cheaper to run than a Ford Fiesta, despite being a lot more spacious and almost 200kg heavier. 

However, if your main buying motive is environmental impact, then the 1.5-litre diesel will likely be the engine for you. 

It produces just 118 CO2s – 12 less than the 1.0-litre EcoBoost – albeit they both sit in the same road tax band and you’ll have to pay more for owning a diesel. 

Engines, drive & performance

No matter which trim level you choose – aside from the sport-focused ST – there’s a huge range of engines to pick from in the Ford Focus. 

Ford Focus Rear View

The entry-level Zetec is the only one which comes with a manual petrol option from new, with the other models all featuring an automatic gearbox in petrol form. 

However, if you’re dead against the auto – and it’s not the best if we’re being honest – there’s a pair of hybrids to choose from, both of which come with a more conventional manual box and produce 125bhp or 155bhp. 

If you’d prefer diesel, there’s a 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre to pick from producing 125bhp and 150bhp respectively. 

And if you really want to add power, the ST model comes with the same 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine you find in the smaller Mustang – 280bhp – or a turbocharged diesel making 200bhp. 

But no matter which power output you choose, you’ll still be able to enjoy a great drive behind the wheel. 

That’s because the Focus is known to be one of the best in its class for drive and performance, with precise steering and a real feel for the road. 

There’s little rolling in the corners thanks to its flat body style, and although it’s not as dynamic as previous versions, the current Focus is still a joy to drive. 

Interior

The interior of the Ford Focus isn’t as strong as some of its competitors. 

It’s still a pleasant place to sit, with plenty of space and natural light in both the front and back, but the aesthetics aren’t up to the standard of the VW Golf, for example. 

Our biggest gripe is the infotainment system, which looks somewhat of an afterthought bolted on to the dashboard rather than a neatly housed piece of equipment – like it was in previous versions. 

There’s also a few too many pieces of cheap plastic trim for our liking – especially in the lower-end models.

Ford Focus Cabin

But don’t assume it’s all bad. The seats are comfy and buttons have an expensive feel, and you get a lot of equipment for your money. 

That includes features such as autonomous collision assist, lane keep assist, air conditioning and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – which can double as sat-nav – in the entry-level Zetec. 

If you want to spend more, you, of course, can. And with it comes extra niceties, such as a digital driver cluster, heated seats and steering wheel, keyless entry and start as well as full leather trim in the top-of-the-range Vignale. 

Ford Focus Interior

Overall, the Ford Focus’ interior is still nice, but we think it’s one of the weakest points of the car. 

Practicality & boot space

The Ford Focus is one of the most practical, family-friendly cars on the market. 

Even in hatchback form, its 375-litre boot can handle more than eight carry-on bags while leaving plenty of rear legroom for your passengers. 

With the seats down – which drop at the touch of a button – that extends to over 1,350 litres – more than the VW Golf. 

In the estate, meanwhile, the numbers grow exponentially. With the seats up, there’s a monstrous 608 litres – more than 60% bigger than the hatchback – and a gargantuan 1,650 litres with the seats down. 

However, it’s not all good news. The Focus only comes in five-door. So, if you want three, you’ll have to look at the Fiesta or elsewhere, I’m afraid. 

But, of course, for a family, the two rear doors provide great accessibility and the seats aren’t low enough to give any elderly relatives trouble. 

Reliability & safety 

Although Ford’s reliability record has dropped a touch in recent years, the Focus still stands strong. 

It comes with three years’ manufacturer’s warranty from new, but to give you extra peace of mind, you can extend your warranty when leasing. 

When tested in 2018, the Ford Focus received a five-star Euro NCAP rating. 

Cost & deals

The Ford Focus, in general, is cheap to insure. 

The entry-level Zetec falls into group 11, with the ST-Line in group 13. Even the most powerful ST still comes with reasonable insurance premiums – sitting in group 34 or 23 depending on if you choose the petrol or less-powerful diesel. 

The Ford Focus is also a very cheap car to lease, with a brand-new ST-Line available from just £201 monthly.