The Ford Focus has been revised for 2014. As well as its new family face, there's a range of new turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines that offer similar power to the old 1.6 they replace, but with up to 10% improvements in fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
The existing 99bhp and 123bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged Ecoboost petrol engines remain unchanged, although a higher-powered 138bhp version will join the range at a later date.
Ford also claims to have improved both the ride quality and refinement, while the Focus’s steering has been tweaked to make it more responsive too. There has also been work done to improve interior quality, and there’s a brand new infotainment system to help declutter the dashboard, along with several new active safety aids.
What’s the 2014 Ford Focus like to drive?
The 1.0-litre Ecoboost is expected to account for almost half of Focus sales in the UK, and we tried the three-cylinder motor in 123bhp tune. It feels lively around town, pulling well from around 1800rpm. True, it needs to be worked hard up steep hills, but on faster roads it has adequate puff when accelerating in gear.
The biggest difference is in the new car’s refinement. The Focus’s gearshift is just as slick as before, but Ford’s efforts to make its engines quieter are noticeable – working it hard isn’t a chore, even if there’s still a slight buzz at the pedals when the revs are high.
Revisions to the steering and suspension haven’t spoiled things: the Focus is still a class leader in this respect. Its steering is now rock solid on straights, with not even the slightest hint of any weaving that some other cars are prone to, which makes easy work of motorway driving, and it loses none of its cornering prowess – it still turns into tight corners better than a VW Golf or Skoda Octavia.
The Focus’s ride continues to feel well suited to the sort of broken roads we’re used to on UK roads, remaining as supple as ever. Large bumps are well damped, and the Focus does an impressive job of taking broken surfaces and crests in its stride. Really, only a Volkswagen Golf comes close to the Focus’ talents.
Although the Focus's cabin isn’t as quiet as a Nissan Pulsar’s when driving at speed, it still has one of the quieter cabins of the class, being about on a par with the Golf’s. The main complaints are some wind noise around its door mirrors on the motorway and tyre roar over coarse surfaces.
What’s the 2014 Ford Focus like inside?
The biggest change in the cabin is the new infotainment system, which brings with it a much simpler and more user-friendly control layout than the previous car's button-strewn chaos.
The new 8.0-inch touch-screen we tried won’t be fitted to all versions – cheaper models get a much smaller 4.2-inch screen – but it’s a huge improvement over the mobile phone-inspired interface of the old model.
The handy shortcuts in the corners of the display make it easy to switch between functions, even though some of the on-screen buttons are a little small, which makes them tricky to hit at a glance, and it isn’t the most responsive system we've tried.
Otherwise, things remain unchanged, which means the driving position is superb, thanks to the well laid-out pedals and wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. There’s enough room for four adults inside (five will be a squeeze), although a Skoda Octavia will offer more head- and legroom in the rear of its cabin.
The Focus’s boot will be fine for light everyday use, but remains comparably small – 270 litres smaller than an Octavia’s, in fact. Despite Ford’s claims that cabin quality has been improved, it is still no match for class leaders such as the Volkswagen Golf in terms of the plushness of the materials used and the overall fit and finish inside.
Entry-level Studio models come with air-con and a tyre pressure-monitoring system, but the next step-up, Style, adds Bluetooth and a DAB radio. Zetec cars then add alloy wheels, a quick-clear windscreen and a leather steering wheel.
Zetec S models adds sporty touches such as larger alloys and more aggressive styling, while Titanium cars get luxuries including that eight-inch infotainment screen, automatic lights and wipers and keyless entry and start. Range-topping Titanium X grade brings xenon headlights, heated seats and a rear view camera.
Should I buy one?
There’s no doubt the 2014 Ford Focus is a better car than the one it replaces. It’s now cheaper to run, more refined and remains the best family car to drive bar none.
However, Skoda’s Octavia is cheaper to buy, with similarly clean and frugal engines, a better cabin and considerably more space and practicality – even if its ride and handling fall short of the Ford’s.
The Golf is more expensive to buy, but it offers a big step up in perceived quality, its ride and handling are still impressive, and it also has space and practicality in its favour.
The fact that the Golf will be worth more after three years will offset most of the price gap, too.
What Car? says...
Ford Focus 1.0T Ecoboost
Engine size 1.0-litre petrol
Price from £18,795
Torque 125lb ft
0-62mph 11.0 seconds
Top speed 120mph
Fuel economy 60.1mpg
Ford Focus 1.5T Ecoboost
Engine size 1.5-litre petrol
Price from £23,520
Torque 177lb ft
0-62mph 8.6 seconds
Top speed 139mph
Fuel economy 47.9mpg