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What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

For The Focus is the best in its class to drive

Against It has a firm low-speed ride

Verdict The Focus pretty much has it all

Go for… 1.6 Ti-VCT (113bhp) Zetec Climate 5dr

Avoid… 1.4 Studio

Ford Focus Hatchback
  • 1. Stiff depreciation from new makes it a bargain used buy
  • 2. Owners have reported engine software glitches, so watch out for poor starting and misfires
  • 3. Interior is put together with a quality to rival the very best in the class
  • 4. There was a recall to fix the vehicle's fuel return pipe, which could degrade and cause fuel leakage, so check the work has been done
  • 5. The driving position is excellent, and everyone should be able to make themselves comfy
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Ford Focus Hatchback full review with expert trade views

There's more than enough room inside the airy cabin for four six-foot adults, while the boot is well shaped and generous.

Height adjustment on the driver's seat, and reach and rake adjustment on the steering wheel, means drivers of all shapes and sizes should find an excellent driving position.

The dash should serve as a lesson to other manufacturers for its clarity and ease of use. It's all put together with a quality to rival the very best in the class.

However, it's the way the Focus drives that really sets it apart - think sports car rather than small family car.

It has a wonderful blend of sharp handling, generally smooth ride and excellent composure through the bends, all topped off by fine refinement at motorway speeds.

If there is a slight complaint, it's that the price you pay for the sharp handling is a firm low-speed ride.

Trade view

Far more common at car supermarkets and franchised dealers than in private sales, but best deals could be found in classifieds.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

There are lots of LXs on the used market, but for a little extra, go for the Zetec trim, which is the best value. Early Zetecs came without air-con, so instead track down the Zetec Climate, which also added a handy quick-clear heated windscreen.

Confusingly, there were two 1.6-litre petrol models from launch, with either 99bhp or 113bhp. The latter is best, because the first is a little slow and noisy. However, Ford decided to drop the better option when the model was face-lifted in 2008.

Test drive the 99bhp version, especially if you’re doing less than 12,000 miles a year, or look for the well-rounded 1.6 TDCI diesel model. It will cost more to buy, but gives much better fuel economy and has better resale values.

Avoid the pointlessly expensive 2.0-litre petrol model and, to a lesser extent, the 1.8-litre version. The 1.8 and 2.0-litre diesel models are only worth considering if the price is right, and you’re doing the higher miles to justify the extra cost of fuel.

The revised model in 2008 changed little of the car's oily bits, but instead spruced up the car's looks and improved the cabin finish.

The turbocharged 2.5-litre Focus ST is mighty fast, but not as good as the VW Golf GTI or Honda Civic Type R.

Trade view

Well built and good to drive. There are loads on the market, so haggle as hard as you can for a bargain.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The beauty of the Focus is that, because of the numbers sold new and the relatively undesirable badge, its stiff depreciation makes it a bargain used buy.

It's also easy to shop around and find a good price. Best of all, once the car is more than a year old, it has already suffered the biggest hit of depreciation, so any future loss in value will be no worse than on its rivals.

Other running costs will be no problem, either. You should see at least 40mpg from any of the petrol engines - our favourite petrol, the 113bhp 1.6, returns 43.8 mpg on the combined cycle, while the 1.6 diesel gives 65.6mpg.

Service and repair costs are good, too, and figures from warranty provider Warranty Direct show that, in the independent sector, Ford maintenance rates are among the lowest.

Similarly, insurance costs are perfectly acceptable, and on a par with those for the Focus's rivals.

Trade view

Far more common at car supermarkets and franchised dealers than in private sales, but best deals could be found in classifieds.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The previous-generation Focus is renowned as a durable car, and the second generation is living up to that expectation. It’s still a little early to find out how the car will fare long-term, because most faults have been covered under warranty.

Certainly initial reports from owners are predominantly positive. Most love the way the car drives, and are impressed with the car's quality. However, some owners have suffered engine issues, predominantly on the diesel models, and water leaks into the cabin.

There have been a few recalls effecting the Focus, with the most important concerning a power steering fault, a rear wheel hub and the fuel return pipe, which could degrade and cause fuel leakage.

Trade view

Well built and good to drive. There are loads on the market, so haggle as hard as you can for a bargain.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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