The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The driver's seat in the Ford Focus is excellent and feels nicely contoured to your back and shoulders. All versions come with height and lumbar adjustment, and you can add the Comfort Seat option that provides 18-way manual adjustment. If you step up to ST-Line X Edition, Titanium X Edition or Active X Edition, you get a six-way powered driver's seat as standard.
There’s loads of steering wheel rake and reach adjustment, so it's easy to find a suitable posture, whatever your proportions. The alignment of the steering wheel, pedals and seat is nigh on perfect, too, and there's the luxury of a front centre armrest.
We love the orderly instruments, whether you have the usual analogue instruments or the digital dials that come with the X Edition trim levels. In fact, the instruments are so clear and easy to read that the optional head-up display seems like an unnecessary expense. The uncluttered dashboard is also a breeze to get your head around, and the physical buttons for all the major controls are much easier to use than the touch-sensitive ones you get in the Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The view out of the Ford Focus is generally good and its front pillars are no more obstructive to your forward visibility than those of any other models in the family car class. Over-the-shoulder visibility is marred by a rear window line that tapers up towards thickish rear pillars, but that, too, is par for the course in the class. The Active models sit a little higher, but not enough to give a truly commanding, SUV-like driving position.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard on all trims. A rear-view camera is included only on the top trims, but you can add one (it's part of the optional Convenience Pack that includes semi-automatic parking). All trims have LED headlights, but only for the dipped beams on lower ones such as Zetec. Once you get up to X Edition trims, you get full LED headlights, including main beams as well. Top-spec Vignale has adaptive LED headlights that can be kept on main beam without dazzling other road users.
Sat nav and infotainment
All versions of the Ford Focus come with an 8.0in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring, allowing you to control selected smartphone apps – such as Google Maps and Waze – through the car's screen. The Ford system isn't too bad, but it has some small icons and quite low-grade graphics. It's miles better than the overly complicated and bug-prone Volkswagen Golf system, though.
We think the infotainment set-up in the Mazda 3 is one of the best for usability – it's operated with a rotary controller that's easier to manage on the move than distracting touchscreens. The Focus's infotainment system is well kitted out, though. By default, you get in-built sat-nav, Bluetooth, a DAB radio and even wireless phone charging, which is more than most rivals offer. If you enjoy your music, it's well worth thinking about adding the B&O premium audio system (that comes as standard on Vignale trim). With 675 watts and 10 speakers, it sounds warm and punchy.
Let's start with the good bits. The Ford Focus’s interior feels reasonably sturdy and all its upper surfaces are pleasingly soft to the touch. Also, every model from Zetec upwards gets a nice leather-wrapped gearknob and steering wheel.
There are some thoughtful touches, too, such as carpeted front door bins aimed at stopping your keys rattling around inside, although because these are only lined on the three sides you can see, there will probably still be some jangle.
It certainly isn't as impressive as the Mazda 3 for fit or finish, though – or the Seat Leon or Skoda Octavia, for that matter. The Focus has more flimsy bits and there are shiny plastics in prominent places, such as surrounding the heater controls. More effort has been put into the pricier versions, but no amount of faux-chrome, wood or carbonfibre highlights, nor the leather-wrapped dashboard of the top-spec Vignale, can imbue it with a genuinely upmarket ambience.
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