The Ford Focus and Fiesta are two of the most popular cars on the road. They sell in huge numbers every year, but which one should you lease?
To understand that, you have to know what you want from the car.
If it’s practicality, performance and precision steering, then surely it’s the bigger, more expensive Focus? Well, that’s also what the Fiesta is famed for.
Of course, with the larger Focus, there’s more room in the boot than the Fiesta. But the smaller city car is still spacious – and you get the choice of three or five doors for added practicality.
Under the bonnet, there’s little to split between them either. The Ford Focus and Fiesta share some of the same engine range. And with the Focus being around 200kg heavier, the Fiesta is typically quicker off the mark and comes with slightly better fuel economy.
So, on the face of it, the difference between the two cars is marginal. But there are areas in which each excels – which we’re going to go through below.
However, as a quick summary, for an out-and-out family car, you can’t beat the Ford Focus. But if you don’t need the extra space, and you want to save a little bit of money, the Fiesta is the one you should lease.
Now onto why. Read our full in-depth review below or skip to a section by clicking its title.
- Design & styling
- MPG, running costs & environmental impact
- Engines, drive & performance
- Practicality & boot space
- Reliability & safety
- Cost and deals
Design & styling
To look at, you can tell the Ford Focus and Fiesta are related.
They share a similar ‘Aston Martin-like’ front grill and fiercely narrow lights. As well, there are several other design details which ‘run in the family’, such as aerodynamic creases in the bodywork and the taillight positioning.
But each is still distinctive in its own way.
The Focus, for example, is lower and its bonnet stretches further to create a more sporty physique. It’s longer, too – allowing more room for a bigger boot.
Meanwhile, the Fiesta’s design is a bit more squished. There’s more natural light allowed into the cockpit to place emphasis on space and a flatter back end gives it better manoeuvrability around town.
Really then, it comes down to personal preference. Both are similar, but there are differences. And the reason why is usually practicality.
Out of the two, we prefer the Focus’ styling.
While the Fiesta is a good looking car, the Focus’ design is more striking and aggressive. It’s a huge leap from its old boring family car styling, proving once again practicality can look good.
It also looks more expensive than its price tag would suggest, whereas the Fiesta resembles a high-end city car – which it is.
So, if you’re stuck between the Ford Focus and Fiesta on styling alone, we’d recommend the Focus.
MPG, running costs & environmental impact
Ford changed the game when they introduced their EcoBoost engine range. Not only are they great fun to drive, they’re also gentle on the fuel tank.
Putting a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine in both, the Focus will return a fuel consumption of up to 50.4mpg. Meanwhile, in the Fiesta, that’s a little higher – ranging from 52.3-55.4mpg.
However, it’s actually the Focus which is cheaper to run, according to recent research by Euro Car Parts.
The bigger family car costs just under 6p a mile in fuel, whereas the Fiesta is over 0.5p more.
Admittedly, that’s not a huge difference, but over the course of 40,000 miles, it’s still £200.
Nevertheless, you have the chance to grab some, if not all, of that money back with the vehicle’s road tax.
Buying from new, the Focus’ CO2 emissions range from 118 in the 1.5-litre diesel to 187 in the high-powered 2.3-litre petrol ST.
During the first year, that’s the difference between paying £215 and £870 road tax.
In the Fiesta, meanwhile, the smaller city car produces slightly less CO2s – 112 in the 1.5-litre diesel to 158 in the 1.5-litre turbocharged EcoBoost petrol.
And while the diesel still costs £215, the powerful petrol falls into the lower tax band – saving you £330 in your first year compared to the Focus.
So, even though the Focus is cheaper to run, if you want more power, you’ll have to pay for it in road tax.
Much like in other areas, there’s very little to split them.
Engines, drive & performance
Both the Ford Focus and Fiesta enjoy the best engines in their respective classes.
It’s long been thought that the EcoBoost is untouchable in terms of performance and power distribution.
And the reason they’re class-leading is because the Focus and Fiesta share some of the same power units.
They both have the same mild-hybrid options – a 124bhp and 153bhp petrol-electric mix – in the Titanium up (excluding the performance-focused ST) and share a similar layout in the rest of the range.
The 1.0-litre petrol, for instance, is turbocharged in both the Focus and Fiesta, with the former coming with 124bhp and the latter 94bhp. Although, the Fiesta comes in manual whereas the Focus is only automatic.
In diesel form, however, there’s more choice in the Focus. There’s a pair of 2.0-litres to pick from – a 119bhp or a 148bhp – as well as either manual or automatic gearboxes.
In the Fiesta, meanwhile, there’s only one; a 1.5-litre diesel producing 84bhp with a six-speed manual gearbox.
But because of a lower weight, the Fiesta is quicker off the mark with like-for-like engines, albeit slightly slower with the other powertrains. But only just.
What this translates to is two cars that distribute their power well and are dynamic behind the wheel.
The Focus is more so, it must be said, with slightly tighter handling allowing for more control at higher speeds. Albeit the Fiesta, again, also leads its own class in this area.
But on the whole, the Fiesta just can’t compete with the Focus in terms of engine range, drive and performance.
That includes the hardcore, sports-focused STs.
In the Focus ST sits the same 2.3-litre petrol engine you find in the Mustang producing 276bhp.
You can have it in a six-speed manual or seven-speed auto and there’s also a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel alternative for better economy.
Meanwhile in the Fiesta ST-3 – the top-of-the-range Fiesta – you have only one engine option, a 1.5-litre EcoBoost coming with 197bhp.
Put them against each other, and as you’d expect, there’s no contest, with the Focus reaching 0-62mph a full second faster than its smaller sibling – 5.5 seconds to 6.5 seconds.
When you step inside either the Ford Focus or Fiesta, you could easily be confused in which you’re sitting such is the similarity – aesthetically anyway.
That’s because, aside from the entry-level spec, they share the same trim names and much of the same equipment.
The entry-level Focus is called the Zetec, while in the Fiesta, it’s the Trend. But then, the Titanium, ST-Line, Active, Vignale and ST are shared between the two, including the upgraded X versions.
Both also have a high-quality finish inside, albeit the Focus’ and Fiesta’s touchscreen infotainment systems look an out-of-place afterthought compared to some of Ford’s competitors.
Nevertheless, plush seating and a lot less scratchy black plastic than there used to be, and the Ford pairing feel somewhat prestigious inside – especially in the higher specs.
That’s also helped by heaps of standard equipment.
In the pricier entry-level Focus, you get a touch more than the Fiesta – such as collision warning with autonomous braking – but there’s not much more than that.
And that’s the same theme throughout the rest of the Focus and Fiesta’s respective ranges.
Again, there’s very little to split them. Both the Focus and Fiesta are packed with great tech, nice fabrics and luxurious options.
The Ford Focus’ practicality is one of the main reasons it sells so well. Especially the newer model.
In hatchback form, with the seats up, it has 375 litres of rear storage – just five litres less than the spacious Volkswagen Golf. With them down, that jumps to over 1,350 litres – which is more than the Golf.
In the Focus estate, there’s a monstrous 608 litres while still having room for five, which is almost two-thirds bigger than the hatchback.
When you drop the seats, that raises to a gargantuan 1,650 litres – which is room for more than 20 fully-sized suitcases.
On top of that, in both the hatchback and estate Vignale, a ski-hatch is added, adding even further practicality if you’ve got a pair of rear passengers in the car.
And while the Fiesta can’t compete in terms of space with the Focus, the city car is still roomy.
With the seats up, there’s 311 litres of boot room, and with the seats down that grows to 1,093 litres – which is enough room for over 10 23kg suitcases.
But the extra boot space in both cars hasn’t replaced either’s airy feel. There’s still a load of legroom, meaning comfort for all four passengers, and several handy storage compartments.
It’s harsh to judge the Fiesta against the Focus in terms of practicality, with one car being significantly bigger than the other.
But that still doesn’t take away from the Focus’ impressive space, and because we have to pick one; the Focus is comfortably the winner between the two.
Reliability & safety
Ford is well known for its reliability, although mechanical problems have marginally grown in the past couple of years.
But when adding new technology and equipment, as Ford has done to the Fiesta and Focus over recent years, there are going to be issues.
Luckily, in the most recent incarnations of both, the engine range has stayed pretty much constant, so you can expect fewer reliability issues than in previous years.
Both the Focus and the Fiesta also impress from a safety standpoint, with the pair receiving a five-star NCAP Euro safety rating.
Cost & deals
We’ve already touched on how much it costs to physically run both the Ford Focus and Fiesta.
But an area which should also be considered is insurance premiums.
The entry-level Zetec Focus should be very cheap to insure, sitting in group 11. As you climb the range, the premiums go up, but not by much, with the ST-Line finding itself in group 13.
At the top, the sporty ST belongs to group 34 in petrol form. Although, if you opt for diesel, that drops to 23.
And it’s a similar story with the Fiesta, with the entry-level petrol deemed a lowly group 4. Meanwhile, the fastest ST-3 is in group 28.
So, once again, both the Focus and Fiesta impress, and you’d be hard pushed to find more insurance-friendly cars.
As well, to help you save even more, here at Hippo Leasing, we offer some of the best UK lease deals on both the Focus and Fiesta.
You can lease the Focus from as little as £210 monthly.
Or, if after reading this, you think the Fiesta is the car for you, they’re available from just £152 monthly.