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Ford Focus Test Drive Review

Date: 12 December 2014   |   Author:

Ford's busy 2015 kicks off with the revised Focus, a car that is the opening act of a year that will include a new Mondeo and S-max, the revised C-max, and the launches of the lower-volume Vignale premium branding, the new Edge SUV, and the Mustang performance car.

The new Focus receives an obviously restyled front and rear, taking it more in line with the new Mondeo with what the firm's engineering manager Stephan Presser describes as a "more taught and athletic front".

But it's under the bonnet where the big news for fleets lies. The new 1.5-litre diesel engine makes its Focus debut in 95hp and, driven here, 120hp form, both offering 98g/km of CO2 emissions and an official 74.3mpg.

The revised Focus brings specification upgrades, with the Zetec adding new alloys, colour dash display, daytime running lights and the My Key system that can set speed limiters, audio volume, and seatbelt reminder warning level, aimed at people who share their car with their children. The Titanium specification now comes with Active City Stop and Ford's second-generation Sync voice-activation system. Satnav has come down in price and now costs £250 on higher trim levels, and £500 between Style and Zetec S.

The hatch takes 85% of registrations over the less popular estate that cost an extra £1100, and more than half of new Focus models will be the Zetec trim sampled here.

The redesigned interior has taken a decent number of buttons out of the dashboard and steering wheel, which is welcome in terms of user-friendliness, and higher-spec cars get the new eight-inch screen. Cabin storage is also improved, and the City Stop technology, now standard from Titanium trim level, has been improved to work at up to 30mph rather than 20mph. New technology on the options list includes a heated steering wheel and side assist, which extends the parking sensors' reach to check whether anything is too close to the side of the car when manoeuvring.

On the road, Ford's attempts to improve ride and refinement are clear, with the changes including a new valve system on the shock absorbers, improved sealing around the wing mirror hinges, better insulation around the carpets, and other sound absorption measures. It works in making the car a more pleasingly quiet place to be at higher speeds in particular, and the new 120hp diesel engine's refinement is notable. The performance, given the sub-100g/km emissions, is also impressive, and there's no feeling of missing out on the more powerful and more expensive diesel that's only available from Titanium spec.

The whole-life costs place the Focus quite favourably among its rival set. Not as cheap as the Vauxhall Astra, and slightly above the Peugeot 308, the Focus beats both for whole-life costs thanks to a better residual value, despite being slightly less efficient than those two models. The Focus's residual is also just 0.4 percentage points behind the VW Golf, and therefore beats it on whole-life costs because the Ford is nearly £1000 cheaper.

Looking at a wider pool, the Focus does just about lose out to the 110hp Seat Leon Ecomotive, but is as impressive on the balance sheet as it is to drive. The only issue is a comparatively tiny boot, way off the size of any rival, but the Focus is otherwise a more accomplished all-rounder that is hard not to recommend.

Focus 1.5 TDCi 120 Zetec 5dr CPM 42.6p
P11D price £19,440
Model price range £13,995-£27,095
Residual value 34.2%
Depreciat­ion £12,790
Fuel £4659
Service, maintenance and repair £1599
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £1288
Cost per mile 42.6p
Fuel consumption 74.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 98g/km (15%)
BIK 20/40% per month £49/£97
Service interval 12,500mls
Insurance (1-50) group 15
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 316/1101 litres
Engine size/power 1499cc/120hp
Top speed/0-60mph 120mph/10.5secs
On sale January 2015


Array of little improvements makes for a stronger competitor