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New Ford Focus is packed full of driving fun.

New Ford Focus is packed full of driving fun.

The original Ford Focus arrived on the Irish car market in late 1998, and it instantly became one of the go-to names in the mid-size family car segment. Tasked with being a replacement for the evergreen Escort, the original Focus was a game-changer in every respect. Now in its fourth generation, the Ford Focus is at the very top of its game in terms of design, interior comfort, safety, infotainment and outright driving fun, while a recent mid-life facelift has added even more desirability to the mix.

Expressive New Design.

The new Focus features an expressive new design language and fuel-efficient electrified powertrains, alongside advanced connectivity and driver assistance technologies designed to make the ownership, and driving experience, easier and more rewarding. A new iteration of Ford’s ‘human-centric ‘design philosophy brings greater confidence and boldness to the Focus exterior, with a more distinctive approach to the Titanium, ST-Line and Active variants –  all of which are powered by a 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125PS petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. For buyers looking to enter an electrified world of efficiency and control, all trim variants can be specified with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost 125PS mild hybrid (mHEV) powertrain combined with a seven-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. Each trim variant gains unique styling elements that express their individual personalities, with an available X pack bringing a high specification, and expanded Vignale pack availability delivering ultimate luxury and exclusive design features. The new bonnet design increases the height of the nose for greater visual presence across the model line-up, and the Ford ‘blue oval’ badge is relocated from the bonnet lip to the centre of the larger upper grille.

Distinctive Light Signature.

New LED headlights are standard across all model variants, and now include integrated fog light functionality that allows a cleaner, sleeker lower fascia design, while delivering a distinctive and purposeful light signature. Darkened taillight lenses provide a premium look to the rear of the car, while the high-series LED rear lights feature a new internal design with a darker central section, and an eye-catching new loop light pattern.

New Infotainment & Driver Assist Systems.

The new Focus introduces Ford’s next-generation SYNC 4 technology to greater numbers of customers than ever before, enabling cloud-connected navigation and connected voice control with natural language understanding. SYNC 4 is supported by an all-new, largest in segment 13.2-inch landscape centre screen with an intuitive interface designed to make it effortless to navigate a comprehensive range of driving and comfort features. The technology also allows Ford Power-Up wireless software updates to improve functionality over time. Advanced driver assistance technologies introduced to Focus for the first time include Blind Spot Assist,  which monitors the driver’s blind spot for vehicles approaching from behind, and can apply counter-steering to warn the driver and discourage a lane change manoeuvre if a potential collision is detected. To my mind, this is one of the most advantageous safety features ever, as it really does take the double-guessing out of lane changing manoeuvres, and motorway merging.

Test Car Details.

My test car was a Focus ST-Line X 1.0-litre EcoBoost 5-door, which was finished in Chrome Blue metallic paintwork. A hugely-impressive array of standard equipment adorns the ST-Line X, with key features such as: 18” alloy wheels, Full LED headlights, LED daytime-running lights, LED rear lights, Quickclear heated windscreen, rear privacy glass, unique ST-Line front grille, full bodystyling kit, large body-coloured rear spoiler, selectable drive modes, sports-tuned suspension, dual-zone air-conditioning, DAB radio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, B&O Premium Audio with 10 speakers, powered 4-way driver seat adjustment, powered lumbar support, heated front seats and steering wheel, keyless entry & start, front & rear parking sensors, reversing camera, red brake calipers, wireless smartphone charging, and a load-through ski hatch in the rear seats, along with a suite of advanced driver assistance systems. With 125PS (123bhp) and 170Nm of torque on offer from the smooth-revving petrol engine, the Focus can sprint from 0-100km/h in 10.2-seconds, on its way to a 198km/h top speed (where permitted). In reality, my test car did feel swifter than the 0-100km/h figure would suggest, helped in no small part by the slick and sporty manual gearbox, while the sports-tuned suspension ensured the car handled with terrific poise and precision at all times. The 1.0-litre 3-cylinder engine consumes as little as 5.4-litres of petrol for every 100km driven on a WLTP combined driving cycle, while a Co2 emission figure of 129g/km results in annual road tax of just €200. Although the new Focus is a superb motorway cruiser, it is on winding back roads where it really excels. The nippy and responsive engine, along with a well-weighted steering set-up, allows for great flexibility and terrific driving fun. The standard premium ebony with partial Sensico seats with red stitching looked distinctively sporty, but also had the benefit of being extremely comfortable and supportive in all the right areas. It is easy to get comfortable behind the multi-adjustable leather-bound steering wheel in the new Focus, and all but the tallest of passengers should have decent leg and headroom. Boot space measures in at 391-litres behind the rear seats, and this is pretty much about average for the class, while the boot has a useful square shape to make the most of the space on offer.  

Verdict & Pricing.

The new Ford Focus is still one of the best handling cars in its class, and its overall driving dynamics are outstanding in every respect. Now filled with an impressive level of on-board technology and safety systems, along with enough space for five occupants and their luggage, the new Focus is a highly commendable, and thoroughly enjoyable family car. The new Ford Focus range is priced from €32,540 (ex-delivery) with my test car specification priced from €36,347 (ex-delivery).

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