Ford Focus Zetec 1.6 EcoBoost 150 5dr

February 2011

picture of car from the front

Bold new angular look is a departure from its more rounded predecessor

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 8Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 6Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Cleaner, greener engine range
  • Refinement levels have been stepped up
  • Greater focus on entertainment and safety equipment
  • Improvements made in build quality

Gripes

  • Unusual manual override for Powershift auto gearbox - buttons on gearlever
  • Diesel variants feel less agile than petrol models when driven briskly
  • Comfort bias means keen drivers will have to dig deep to discover car's talents
  • No three-door option

A mainstay of the UK motoring landscape, Ford's Focus has consistently been at or near the top of the sales charts since its introduction in 1998. The third generation version promises to repeat this success with a raft of new technology, greater levels of refinement and a cleaner, greener range of engines.

Bold styling has been a constant theme throughout the life of Ford's Focus. In the beginning the car stunned both the media and public - nothing like this had ever come from the Ford design office. The gentle evolution of the Focus has seen it soften its exterior look somewhat, though. Third time around and the car has returned to its angular, geometric roots.

Along with the car's looks, a lot has changed under the skin. As with so many of its rivals, green motoring and an increased focus on safety has taken priority in buyers' minds. The five-door Ford doesn't disappoint; the inclusion of more economical engines and premium-level safety kit (lane departure warning, auto brake, in-car speed limit display) are all welcome.

Performance-wise this Focus has a lot to live up to. One of the original car's unique selling points was its ability to engage with keen drivers. With the emphasis now on increased refinement and comfort, it would appear that initially the enthusiastic driver has been forgotten. However, push the car a little harder and the old attributes are still there, only this time more polished.

Likely to be of more immediate value to some is the car's sophisticated safety offerings. The trickle down effect has failed to work in its rivals, but Ford has pushed the boundaries of cost and value to endow the Focus with the likes of an auto brake function for collision avoidance in cities, a lane departure warning system that also guides you back on track and a camera that reads speed limit signs. You'll have buy a premium German car - or a Volvo - for a similar experience.

Our verdict on the Ford Focus Zetec 1.6 EcoBoost 150 5dr

With its bold exterior styling and generous helpings of comfort and safety equipment, Ford can't be accused of resting on its laurels with the Focus. It's a much more competitive and fragmented market than in 1998, yet this Focus manages to remain relevant despite the availability of mini people carriers and crossovers. For some it's likely to exceed expectations, especially buyers seeking to downsize.

Costs
Costs rating 8

The humble Focus has never been a drain on the wallet, so to speak. Over time the introduction of cleaner petrol and diesel engines have boosted its appeal, and it's no different with this model. Low CO2 ratings have become the norm along with pleasingly high official economy figures. Factor in the improved levels of standard kit and there's a lot to look forward to.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

It might have grown a little but, realistically, you'll struggle to reap the benefits in the cabin. Front seat occupants fare well, rear passengers less so. If you want more room for a growing family Ford's C-Max is a better option. Oddment storage areas are plentiful, which should please motorway-munching fleet drivers, while the car's boot is a good size and access is straightforward.

picture of car from the rear

redesign moves tail lights to the car's rear wing

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

Substantial revisions to the Focus' fascia have resulted in easer to read dials, more sensibly located minor controls and a general, all-round improvement. The colour display between the main dials is a vast improvement over the old solution and can display a bewildering number of features. Even the car's main colour screen is a step up, although it could be bigger - a niggle resolved with the inclusion of sat-nav. Another niggle that's harder to excuse is the audio unit's small buttons.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

With refinement noticeably up in all areas of the Focus, its cabin is a nice place to spend some time in. Supportive seats, a good driving position and only small levels of wind and tyre noise to contend with mark the Ford out as more accomplished than its price suggests.

Car security
Security Rating 6

Remote central locking with deadlocks and an engine immobilizer are all present, while the hatchback's load cover appears sturdy enough to keep out prying eyes. There isn't much in the way of covered storage space apart from the glovebox, however.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

Along with the usual array of airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes, Ford has redoubled its efforts to compete head-on with the likes of Volvo. Available as options, a speed limit sign-reading camera displays the limit in the driver's view; blind spot and lane departure warning systems do as described and a 'city safe' auto braking function detects and acts if a low speed collision is predicted. And the good news is that all this technology is surprisingly affordable.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

Since its original launch the Focus has been something of a high achiever in this department. Successive updates have seen the car's bias slowly creep more towards comfort than pleasing keen drivers but, if you dig deep enough, the old car's talents remain - they're just more polished now. The Ecoboost petrol motors are very impressive and the diesel engines offer a solid performance plus, crucially, wallet-friendly green credentials.

picture of car interior

Refined cabin full of high value standard equipment

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

A perfectly serviceable family car, in five-door trim the Focus offers enough space for a growing family and their belongings. Outgrowing the car doesn't have to mean leaving the Ford fold, as there's always the C-Max people carrier or Kuga SUV.

First car appeal
First car Rating 6

With no shortage of car's sporting L-plates, the Focus makes a sound first car if you don't fancy the confines of a supermini. Easy to use controls are complimented by good visibility and driver's seating position. Running costs aren't that bad, either.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

The image of the Focus is arguably a cut above standard Ford fare and this new model continues to look towards the premium end of the mainstream market. In some areas it's very Golf-like, something the Ford guys have been trying to crack for years. For many it's the default choice, which is also something of a compliment.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

There's little chance that front and rear seat occupants will experience trouble getting in or out thanks to the car's wide-opening doors. The high seating position also makes access and egress easy. The tailgate is also easy to open, plus there's a large aperture for easy loading.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Along with improved aesthetics comes an upgraded audio unit for the Focus. All the basic features are present, but the main controls can be a little fiddly - some buttons are very small. Most functions can be access via steering wheel controls, though. Connectivity isn't a problem, with Bluetooth phones and MP3 players catered for. Sat-nav is an option.

picture of car in detail

Focus delivers highly refined driving experience

Colours and trim

To compliment the car's bold new exterior, equally bold colours are surprisingly flattering. In contrast, darker hues tend to mask the Ford's many clever styling details. The cabin is less somber than before, what with the brighter centre console adding some much needed light relief.

Parking

It might have grown slightly but the Focus remains an easy to park car. Forward visibility is good, even if you can't quite see the end of the bonnet, while the view to the rear is more than adequate. The car's steering, which is nice and light and requires little effort to turn at low speed, also helps. Parking sensors are available if you think you need them.

Spare wheel

Spare wheel fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.6-litre (105bhp, 125bhp, 150bhp). Diesel options - 1.6-litre (95bhp, 115bhp); 2.0-litre (115bhp, 140bhp, 163bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox and six-speed manual gearbox, depending on engine output plus six-speed automatic twin-clutch Powershift automatic with manual over-ride for selected models. Trim levels: Edge, Zetec, Titanium, Titanium X.

 

Alternative cars

Volkswagen Golf Closer to Focus now in terms of comfort and refinement - a benchmark for some

Vauxhall Astra Slick Astra is a great all-rounder

Renault Megane An outsider to some but easy on the eye and easy to own

Citroen C4 Refresh has boosts C4's appeal but it can't match the Focus



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February 2011