Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
We rate the Ford Focus's 123bhp 1.0 Ecoboost 125 engine. Okay, it isn’t frisky enough to fry your adrenal glands (0-62mph comes along in 10.0sec) and the Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI 130 is punchier, but it has decent shove once the revs build past 2000rpm. There's a mild hybrid version, called the 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 125, too, which has a small electric motor to add a bit of extra oomph at low revs. The performance boost isn't that noticeable, but because there's not much of a cost premium and it's more efficient, we reckon it's the pick of the range.
If you regularly carry lots of people or simply want something quicker, there's the 153bhp version (badged 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 155). Around town, this range-topper doesn’t feel a whole lot quicker than the 125 model, but once you get out on a country road and drop it down a couple of gears, you’ll find an engine that is keen to rev. Ford claims it will do 0-62mph in just 9.2, and that sounds entirely believable from behind the wheel.
Suspension and ride comfort
No matter which version you choose, the Ford Focus has a slightly firmer ride than the Skoda Scala, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf. But fundamentally it's a comfortable car, with more give in its springs than the Kia Ceed and Mazda 3.
Even the lower and stiffer ST-Line versions aren't bone-shakers. You just have to put up with their greater firmness over sharper bumps and potholes – especially the ST-Line X, with its bigger, 18in wheels. Meanwhile, the 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.