Even those who’d be professed Ford-doubters, agree that it is and has been a great driving car. A road companion you would smile at taking to your favourite road stretch, a car than when I first drove it back in 1998, had me walking around it wondering if my just completed test drive was as good as I thought it was, or was I just in a good mood that day.
It was, and I was not alone, as every motor journalist who drove that first Ford Focus raved about the leap it brought to not just its segment, but to motoring in general. Holding that status has been a Ford DNA gene in all their car offerings since.
This latest Ford Focus rides a little softer than previous generations, leaning more towards cushion and comfort, rather than rail and razor. It still delivers a great road drive, the ride quality and steering still capable of making the ends of your mouth curl up if you take it to the hills.
Powered by the 1.5 litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, my test car ran its 120bhp through an 8-speed automatic transmission. If proof is needed as to how user-friendly and economical a modern-day automatic is, then this Ford Focus is a great introduction.
This computer-controlled, eight-speed automatic, where every turn of the wheels is assessed and the most efficient gear is provided, is a far cry from the three/four speed automatics of yesteryear. Add to this the paddle-shift override and the Focus’s road talent can be explored by the sequential flick of a finger.
In its ST-Line trim and eye-easy 18” alloys, my test car would demand in excess of a hefty 35k to park in your driveway, an amount few may be willing to part with. With its head-up-display, (HUD), high level of safety, entertainment and connectivity, my test car was a very pleasant place to be, including a torrential safari across country, returning an average of 5.3litre/100km.
|Make: Ford||Tax Band: B2|
|Model: Focus||Annual Road Tax: €200|
|Format: Five-door, five seat hatchback||Boot Space: 375litres – 1,354 litres with rear seats folded|
|Trim Level: ST Line||Length: 4,378mm|
|Engine: 1.5 litre, 4-cyclinder turbodiesel||Width: 1,825mm|
|Power: 120bhp||Height: 1,454mm|
|Torque: 300Nm||Focus Range starting Price - €22,513|
|Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic, with paddle-shift||Price for above ST-Line model from €27,743|
|Drive: front-wheel drive||Test model price €35,078 – plus additional options as listed (Prices exclude delivery and related charges)|
|WLTP CO2 Emissions: 139g/km|
Some of the Competition
KIA Ceed, Opel Astra, Toyota Corolla, VW Golf, SEAT Leon, Peugeot 308, Honda Civic, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30, Mazda3
I like the look of the new Focus, built on Ford’s new C2 platform, particularly in ST-Line trim and especially when its dressed in the option of Ford’s Desert Island Blue livery. As my test car was also shod in 18” Katana alloys, the whole package and stance danced in the dazzle of the January sun, sitting as it does, in ST-Line trim, at 10mm lower than the ‘normal’ Focus.
The LED headlight/bonnet/below the bumper treatment on the new Focus works really well, its street footprint bigger than its former, while at the rear it all gels visually, with its name proudly studded across its fifth door.
Like all cars we sit into, our first touches silently inform and sway our opinion on everything else we are about to experience. The chunky, flat-bottomed, leather ST-line steering wheel is one of the most welcoming across all motoring, a nice aperitif to the main course.
There is more room within and a more upmarket finish, with the driver and centre consoles clear and home to information on an encyclopaedical scale. Like most cars today, the benefit of night-classes for new owners on the talents of their new purchase is getting nearer, such is the level of technology on tap.
I’m a big fan of Head Up Display, (HUD), an option on my car, where within the sight-line of my drive, I get information of relevant aspects of my progress. Current speed, Lane Departure Warning, Speed zone recognition are among some of the information Those of us who wear polarised sunglasses will be delighted with the Focus system, where we can actually see the screen with our specs on and not the darkness that non-treated screens provide.
The new Focus can also be turned into a Wi-Fi hotspot via FordPass Connect, where courtesy of an internet router, it can provide connectivity for up to 10 devices. This feature is free for 3 months or when 3GB limit of data is used. If the optional Sync 3 with navigation is selected it also delivers live traffic updates, free for two years.
Owners can access their car through a mobile app, where they can verify the location of their car, check the fuel level, lock or unlock their Focus, check the alarm status and as mine was the automatic, I could start the car remotely – very handy for the chill of o January morning.
On the Road
Driving a Focus must deliver the positive feeling of a great conversation. There should be nothing boring, mundane or remote about it – the original 1998 legacy must be carried forward – it must be expected and insisted upon.
The 2019 Ford Focus still delivers, albeit in a more subdued and refined manner. It does offer more room, more comfort and considerably more tech, but it still has the road tactility of its forefathers.
My test car delivered its 120bhp via a paddle-shift enabled 8-speed automatic transmission. I must admit to liking these ‘new’ multi-speed automatics, where I can sequentially override the auto function and manually select the best gear for my intentions.
It worked well during my drive, where I left it for most of the time in full automatic, selecting the manual option for some snappy overtakes and on a downhill section so as to avoid playing Riverdance between the throttle and the brake.
What surprised me was the economy reading on the Focus’s trip computer, averaging 4.8litres/100km.
Coming as it did with a host of extras, which gave me the opportunity to sample from their tasting menu, my test Focus looks expensive. Given that not everyone will was a Focus as spec’d as this, I would sweat too much at the price as shown.
Dimensionally bigger and more refined than before, this latest Ford Focus is a must drive in this very competitive segment. Others in this segment will be wooing and fluttering their eyelids for your Euros. The decision will be difficult – the choice the best it has ever been – a list is recommended – a test drive vital.
DRIVER ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGIES
COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
|Additional Options:||Colour – Desert Island Blue = €600|
|FordPass Connect Modem = €375||Openable Panoramic roof = €1,410|
|8” Sync 3 with Navigation = €550||Wireless charging = €180|
|Ford Co-Pilot 360 (Adaptive Cruise with Lane Centering & Traffic jam Stop & Go Assist; Auto High Beam; Driver Alert; Traffic Sign Recognition) = €720||Heads Up Display = €530|
|Design pack (18” Katana alloys; Fixed LED headlights & privacy) = €1,350||BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) = €650|
|Privacy glass = €150||Enhanced Active Park Assist including rear view camera = €820|
Tony Toner is a member of the Association of Professional Motoring Press and a voting juror on Irish Car & Irish Van of the Year.