How to spec a Ford Focus

* Which engine to go for * Which trim to choose * Which options to buy...

27 Oct 2011 13:18 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

The Ford Focus is one of the UK's most popular cars, but which one should you buy? The hatchback, alone, comes in five trims and with 11 engine and gearbox combinations.

Follow our step-by-step guide to find your ideal Focus.

Which model?
The current Focus went on sale earlier this year, but Ford is still selling the previous version. You can only get it in Sport trim, with either a 1.6-litre petrol or 1.6-litre diesel engine. Our mystery shoppers say discounts on the previous model aren't much better than those on the current version, you should go for the latest model.

Which engine?
All the petrol engines in the Focus are 1.6-litres with 84bhp, 103bhp, 123bhp or 148bhp. We've yet to drive the 84bhp it's available in Studio trim only and while the list price of 13,995 is tempting, it's not our favourite version.

The same can be said for the 103bhp and 123bhp versions. There's not much wrong with either, but the Focus is such a great-handling car that we think the extra power of the 148bhp 1.6T Ecoboost engine suits it much better. It averages almost 50mpg, and it's our favourite petrol indeed it's our favourite engine overall in the Focus.

If you, or your company, must have a diesel, you can have a 1.6-litre with 94bhp or 114bhp, or a 2.0-litre with either 138bhp or 161bhp.

The 94bhp version is available in Edge trim only, while the 161bhp engine is exclusive to Titanium X trim. As you'll see below, we think Edge is a bit basic and Titanium X is too expensive, so go for either the 114bhp or 138bhp units. Both provide a balance between economy and power, but the 1.6-litre engine just takes it for us.

Which gearbox?
Ford's Powershift semi-automatic transmission is nowhere near as good as VW's DSG gearbox, so we wouldn't recommend an automatic Focus. The three lower-powered petrols make do with a five-speed manual gearbox, but the six-speed box in the rest of the range is more flexible so is our recommendation.

Which trim?
There are five trims; Studio, Edge, Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X. However, if you take our advice and go for the 1.6 T Ecoboost, your trim choices are limited to the top-end Titanium and Titanium X versions. That's no bad thing because you get keyless start, climate control, automatic wipers and lights, and cruise control. You also get a smart centre console that really lifts the whole cabin, making it look much classier.

Titanium X has part-leather seats, powered driver's seat and bi-xenon headlights, but with a list price in excess of 21,000, it's pushing the price of a Focus too high.

Of the other trims, we think its a choice between Edge and Zetec. Both have air-con, Bluetooth and DAB radio but neither get that smart centre console. Zetec gets sports seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and Ford's Quickclear heated windscreen. We'd pay the extra for Zetec.

Which options
Metallic paint is a must to protect resale values. 'Standard' metallic paint costs 495, but we'd advise haggling on that. Ford does have two more-expensive metallic paints Candy Yellow and Candy Red but at 745, it's not worth the extra.

The other options and packs that are available depend on the trim you choose, but the Focus is pretty well specced anyway, so the only one we'd consider is the City Pack in Titanium trim. For 275, you get rear parking sensors and electrically folding mirrors, which will come in handy if you do a lot of in-town driving and parking.

Our perfect Ford Focus
Ford Focus 1.6T 150 Ecoboost Titanium 19,750
Metallic paint: 495
City pack: 275
Total price: 20,520

How to haggle
Ford will knock 1000 off the total before you even start to haggle, but that's just the start. Our mystery shoppers have found you can push the dealer to take a further 3.5% off. Remember, you can push for a similar discount on options, so we think you could easily get the Focus we've specced above for as little as 18,837.

Don't stop there however. A quick trawl through some broker websites show you can get our 'perfect' Focus for just over 16,300 a 4000 discount. Don't let your dealer off the hook when there are discounts like that to be found.

Coming soon
A new three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine will be available in the Focus from next year.

Two versions of this engine will go on sale in Europe, with a 99bhp unit mated to a five-speed gearbox and a 118bhp unit with a six-speed 'box.

Both will have similar performance to the current 103bhp 1.6-litre petrol unit, but Ford has said the new engine will have better emissions, with CO2 levels said to be less than 120g/km. If low emissions and high fuel economy are of the utmost importance when buying a new Ford Focus, it could be worth waiting for this model. As soon as we've driven the car, we'll publish our verdict on whatcar.com.

Other 'how to' guides on whatcar.com
How to spec an Audi Q3
How to spec a Mini Coupe
How to spec a Range Rover Evoque
How to spec a VW Golf