Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
We rate the 123bhp 1.0L Ecoboost 125. Okay, it isn’t frisky enough to fry your adrenal glands (0-62mph comes along in 10.3sec) and the Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 130 is punchier, but it has decent shove once the revs build past 2000rpm. Ford's just released a mild hybrid version, called the 1.0T Ecoboost Hybrid 125, which is available on all trims above entry-level Zetec. We're yet to try it in the Focus, but, having sampled it in the Ford Puma, its electric motor should add a bit of oomph and it could well end up being our pick of the range. We'll be trying it soon and will let you know.
If you regularly carry lots of people or simply want more something quicker, there's a 153bhp version, called the 1.0T Ecoboost Hybrid 155, that should be frisky enough for you. Otherwise, the non-hybrid 1.5L Ecoboost 150 and 182 are also worth considering.
Meanwhile, if you're a diesel fan, the 118bhp 1.5L Ecoblue 120 represents the sweet spot of the diesel range, providing a good spread of shove once you get past its initial low-end turbo lag. The 148bhp 2.0L Ecoblue 150 doesn't feel that much faster, especially if you order it with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox. In fact, whichever engine you go for, the auto 'box takes the edge off performance with its leisurely kickdown. The quickest engine in the range (bar the Focus ST that's reviewed separately) is the 2.0L 190 Ecoblue, which hits 0-62mph in 7.6sec.
Suspension and ride comfort
No matter which version you choose, the Focus is a slightly firmer riding car than the Skoda Scala, Toyota Corolla or Volkswagen Golf. But it's fundamentally a comfortable thing, with more give in its springs than the Kia Ceed or Mazda 3.
Even the lowered, stiffened ST-Line trims aren't boneshakers, you just have to put up with their greater firmness over sharper bumps and potholes – especially the ST-Line X with bigger 18in wheels. Meanwhile, SUV-inspired Active models ride 30mm higher than the standard versions, and that extra height creates a bit of side to side sway on any uneven surface.
If you want the best-handling Focus, choose ST-Line trim. With its lower, stiffer suspension, ST-Line exhibits the least body lean in corners and makes the most of the Focus's inherently playful cornering balance and agility. The Seat Leon (especially in its sportier FR trim) is the only car in the class (for similar money) that can offer keen drivers such thrills.
The less sporty trims (Zetec and Titanium, for example) are still good to drive, but lean more and lack that ST-Line's cornering sparkle. The jacked-up Active models add more body lean into the mix, but are still tidy to drive by class standards.
All Focus models have quick steering. It's light in town but weights up at faster speeds; albeit with a slightly unnatural self-centring action. On the plus side, it's feelsome and gives you a lot more information about how much grip's available than the Golf's steering does.
Noise and vibration
The Focus's 1.0 Ecoboost petrol engines thrum away faintly in the background, but never in an annoying fashion. They're generally quieter than the 1.5 TSI engine that you'll find in the Seat Leon and Volkswagen Golf. The 1.5-litre Ecoblue 120 diesel is quite a bit grumblier than the petrols at low revs and booms when revved hard, but the 2.0 Ecoblue 150 is slightly quieter.
At motorway speeds, there’s some flutter from around the Focus's door mirrors, but road noise is very well suppressed. So, if you spend a lot of time travelling at speed, the Focus is the most civilised cruiser in the class and more hushed than the Leon or Mazda 3. It even pips the Golf for peace and quiet.
Every Focus comes with a sweet-shifting six-speed manual gearbox, or there's the option of an eight-speed automatic on certain versions. Unfortunately, the auto 'box isn't very good, especially when hooked up to a diesel engine. It's jerky when you're manoeuvring into parking spaces and thuds before moving away in traffic. Stick with the manual, or, if you must have an automatic, there are better auto gearboxes in rivals such as the Golf.
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