Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
Its start price may look remarkably low, but the Focus isn't actually as cheap as you might think. While entry-level Style trim costs about the same as the equivalent Skoda Octavia and undercuts any five-door Volkswagen Golf, popular trims such as the mid-level Zetec and ST-Line models, are relatively pricey compared with the Octavia and not far off the price of the generously-equipped Golf SE.
The story is a little different if you compare three-year, 10,000-mile-per-year PCP finance deals; the disparity in monthly cost against the Octavia is just a few pounds per month. A Kia Ceed could work out significantly cheaper, though.
Predicted resale values for the Focus are respectable after three years or 36,000 miles, roughly matching those of the Golf and Octavia. Servicing costs, however, work out a little higher.
The Focus's Ecoboost three-cylinder petrol engines feature efficiency-enhancing cylinder deactivation which shuts down one cylinder when you’re cruising gently. This helps the popular 123bhp 1.0-litre Ecoboost 125 to return 49.6mpg, emitting 107g/km of CO2 in official WLTP tests. That's on a par with the 1.0 TSI Octavia and Golf.
Equipment, options and extras
While Style trim comes with the basics, including 16in alloy wheels, air-con and electrically operated front and rear windows, it's worth jumping up at least a rung on the ladder if you can. Zetec and ST-Line models both feature cruise control and a heated windscreen, the latter adding keyless start, aluminium pedals, 17in wheels, lowered sports suspension and more aggressive styling.
Our favourite trim is Titanium. It’s still reasonably priced and very well equipped, with power-folding door mirrors, keyless entry, auto wipers, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control. ST-Line is similarly equipped but has a sportier look.
Models further up the range, such as Titanium X, its sporty ST-Line X equivalent and the range-topping Vignale, offer yet more kit but also represent questionable value for money. The SUV-styled Active and Active X versions will appeal to those looking for something more distinctive; their butch styling tweaks include black plastic wheel arch surrounds and more rugged-looking bumpers.
According to the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, Ford’s reliability record is only average. The data – compiled from information supplied by you – placed the manufacturer 14th out of the 31 brands included. The latest Focus trailed behind key family car rivals, finishing 27th in its class, although it did beat the last-placed Vauxhall Astra.
If you should find yourself in need of warranty back-up, Ford's policy lasts for three years or 60,000 miles, and can be extended at extra cost. It matches the warranty provided by Volkswagen and Skoda, but is nothing special compared with Kia’s seven-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Safety and security
The car safety testing programme Euro NCAP gave the latest Focus its top five star rating, despite adult and child occupant protection scores that aren’t quite as high as some of its rivals’. That's mainly because the Focus loses marks due to not coming with automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard in all the markets that Euro NCAP represents.
But here in the UK it does get an AEB system that recognises cars, pedestrians and cyclists as standard across the range. Lane-keeping assistance is standard, too, while the reasonably priced Driver Assistance Pack adds traffic sign recognition, automatic main beam assist and adaptive cruise control.
The last of these systems is particularly clever and includes steering assistance that works at motorway speeds, and a function for automatic versions that can bring the car to a halt and move it off again in stop-start traffic. It’s disappointing, though, that you have to add a second pack in order to get blindspot warning as well.
All Focus models come with an alarm and immobiliser that’s rated in category one by security experts Thatcham Research. This bodes well for it resisting being broken into and stolen.
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