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Ford Focus Review

The third-generation Ford Focus has arrived, and it’s bringing all manner of improvements with it. This model sports fresh new styling, new engines, and some space age technology that improves its handling, passenger safety and comfort. But is it any good? We took to the £20,095 2-litre 140PS diesel model in Titanium trim to see how the improvements stack up.

Thew new Focus looks OK, but the styling is rather busy.
Thew new Focus looks OK, but the styling is rather busy.

Design

Ford’s designers could be accused of playing it safe where the previous Focus was concerned, but for this new car, they can be accused of no such thing. The 2012 Focus is, aesthetically quite challenging to look at thanks to a busy front end with large air vents and angular bodywork, and a rear with brake light clusters that are so large, you could probably see them from space. It’s certainly not a bad looking car, but it’s a little over-designed in some places.

Comfy seats and a good driving position are hallmarks of this new Focus.

Practicality

Inside, the car has a modern, comfortable feel. Your weary buttocks will be treated to comfortable, supportive front seats, while a spacious rear provides enough room for all but the freakishly big haired. The boot is slightly less impressive thanks to its miserly 316-litre capacity. That’s about 50 litres less than the previous Focus and the current VW Golf, and is only slightly more than you’d get in a supermini such as the Honda Jazz.

The Focus’ boot lid is also rather high once fully opened, so if you’re freakishly short, you may need a stool to stand on in order to reach up and close it.

The boot on this car is smaller than the previous one, and the high bootlid can be tricky to close if you're short.

Performance & handling

The 2012 Ford Focus handles and rides beautifully. It cruises in surprisingly refined manner over even the roughest of roads, yet corners as if it has aspirations of one day growing up to be a sports car. We tried our best to upset the thing, chucking it enthusiastically into corners, pointing it at twisty B-roads with wild cambers and deliberately chucked it through roads with slush and snow and nothing would upset it. Short of taking a wrong turn down a level crossing, this is the closest you’ll get to a family hatchback handling like it’s on rails.

Sadly, despite having the grip, balance and poise of a mutant Koala gymnast crossbreed, the Focus doesn’t feel very fast. The 140PS, 2-litre TDCI engine and six-seed manual in our test vehicle provides only enough grunt for 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and a 129mph top speed, which is disappointing as it doesn’t come close to fulfilling the car’s true performance potential.

The new Focus is one of the best handling cars on the road today.

Equipment & Value

The Focus comes in Studio, Edge, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium and Titanium X trim levels, each being better festooned with equipment than the last. The basic Studio model comes with air conditioning, AM/FM radio, electric windows and central locking. The Edge version costs £2,205 more but adds a trip computer, steering wheel audio controls, front and side curtain airbags, and a Thatcham category 1 alarm. A further £1,000 buys you the Zetec version, which a Quickclear heated windshield, front fog lamps, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, body coloured door handles and some chrome accents.

The Titanium and Titanium X give you a host of extra gadgetry. These include a keyless go feature that lets you start the engine without inserting the key, an automatic parallel parking feature that parks the car for you, plus an onboard RADAR, LIDAR and safety camera system that watches the road ahead for danger. These can display road signs on the dashboard in case you’ve not been paying attention or, more impressively, automatically initiate an emergency stop should a car stop in front of you.

All trim levels are worth the extra spend provided you, personally, need the bits and bobs they provide.

The new Focus has a wide choice of engines. Not all are great, but there's a couple of gems in there.

Economy & environment

The Focus engine range offers varying levels of economy and kindness to Mother Nature. The most efficient of these is the 1.6-litre TDCi Duratorq diesel, which spits 109g/km of CO2 and achieves 67.3mpg. The 1.6-litre Ecoboost petrol achieves far worse numbers — 139g/km and 47.1mpg, though it is around £1,000 cheaper. If you intend to keep the car for a few years, or if you’ll be doing a lot of mileage, the diesel is the better bet.

Our 2.0-litre Duratorq diesel engine is more powerful, and gets to 60mph two seconds quicker, but sacrifices 10mpg and costs £80 per year more in road tax.

 The hatchback's boot isn't very large, but there's plenty of room in the estate (dog not included)

Safety

Cars don’t come much safer than the 2012 Ford Focus. The car’s received two Euro NCAP Advanced awards (more impressive than that 5-star malarkey) for its plethora of active safety gadgets. Lane departure warning tells you when you’re driving out of your lane and Lane Keeping Aid actively steers you back into it. Blind spot recognition is also in place, as is the aforementioned low speed safety system, which automatically applies the brakes when sensors detect an object in front. The car also has a blind spot information system and driver alert to warn you when tiredness is causing you to drive like a zombie.

Key specs

Model tested: Ford Focus Titanium TDCi 2-litre 140PS 6-speed
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Power: 138bhp
Torque: 340Nm
Acceleration: 0-62 in 8.9 seconds
Top speed: 129mph
Economy: 57.7mpg
Emissions: 124g/km CO2
Price: £20,095

Star
Star

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