Used Ford Focus review: Is this the UK’s most popular hatchback?

Date Posted 11th April 2022
Read Time 8 min read

The Ford Focus has long been viewed as one of the best family cars money can buy, with its ample space, accurate drive, refined comfort and market-leading technology all ensuring it’s a great all-rounder. 

Add the fact it’s available in both hatchback and estate form, and you can begin to see why it is consistently one of the most popular cars in the new and used car market. 

The fourth-generation Ford Focus was initially released in 2018

Also, there’s a huge range of both styling and interior options in addition to an impressive list of specification choices, and if you squint at the right angle the front of the car even resembles some of the design cues seen on an Aston Martin.

So why is the Ford Focus so popular and why does it sell in such high numbers across the new and used car market? We’ve revisited the fourth generation model originally released in 2018 to find out… 

Ford Focus design and 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. 

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. 

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 bodystyle, while its rear signage is clean and modern, helping to highlight Ford’s renewed focus on innovation. 

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. 

Ford Focus ST 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. 

No matter if you’re looking for an under-the-radar runabout, classy cruiser, sporty shifter or off-road ready crossover, Ford has covered all bases when it comes to the Focus.

Ford Focus MPG and running costs

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

On the used market, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost – the most popular Focus engine – is regarded as one of the best everyday power units because it gives you the fun of a turbo while helping to 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 120g/km CO2 – 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. 

Ford Focus engines, drive and performance

No matter which trim level you choose there’s a huge range of engines to pick from in the used market. 

The entry-level Zetec is the only one which comes with a manual petrol option, 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 because the Focus is renowned as being 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. 

Ford Focus interior

Where the Ford Focus falters perhaps is when it comes to the interior. It’s 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 some of its competitors such as the Volkswagen Golf. 

In fact, the biggest gripe with the fourth-gen model is the infotainment system: it verges on unresponsive at times and the floating style seems at odds with the rest of the cabin. There’s also a few too many pieces of cheap plastic trim for our liking – especially in the entry-level models.

But don’t assume it’s all bad. Comfort is up there with the likes of the DS3 and you get plenty of equipment as standard. This includes features such as autonomous collision assist, lane keep assist, air conditioning and Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in the entry-level Zetec. 

Moving up the trim levels brings with it other conveniences 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. 

Overall, the Ford Focus’ interior is decent, but it falls slightly short compared to its competitors.

Ford Focus practicality and boot space

It’s safe to say, the Ford Focus is one of the most practical, family-friendly cars on the used car 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. 

The fourth-gen model is available solely with five-doors too meaning it provides great accessibility for drivers and passengers of all ages. 

Ford Focus reliability and safety

Although Ford’s reliability record has dropped a touch in recent years, the Focus still stands strong. Whereas the fourth-gen Focus had its share of issues upon release in 2018, successive models have improved its standing. It is currently placed 19th in the What Car? family car reliability survey, with an impressive score of 90.5 per cent.

When tested on release in 2018, the Ford Focus received a five-star Euro NCAP rating. It scored 85% for adult occupant safety, 87% for child occupant safety, 72% for vulnerable road user safety, and 75% for safety assist features.

Ford Focus cost and deals

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

According to Honest John, the 2018 Ford Focus model is generally priced between £14,705 and £17,999 depending on mileage for a used example. As one of the few used car leasing websites, Hippo Leasing’s current stock starts from around £256 per month for the 1.0 EcoBoost 125 Zetec Edition.