The most notable revision with this facelifted Focus is in the powertrains. The 1.6-litre turbo, in both petrol and diesel flavours, has become a 1.5-litre turbo, with 148bhp and 180bhp in Ecoboost petrol forms, and 94bhp and 119bhp in diesel guise. The 1.0-litre Ecoboost with 123bhp remains the same.

In the latter form, the Focus has 3bhp more and torque of 148lb ft, the same as the Volkswagen Golf's 1.4 TSI 120bhp petrol motor. Much of the Ford's initial driving pleasure comes from the three-cylinder note. It oozes enthusiasm and encourages you to work it hard. However, this engine in the Focus can occasionally feel like it's the big turbo pulling you along in a bigger, heavier car. 

Mark Tisshaw

Deputy editor
Ford's 1.0-litre Ecoboost three cylinder note oozes enthusiasm and encourages you to work it hard

The Focus’s ‘new’ 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine doesn’t strike you as the most state-of-the-art downsized motor – and it isn’t. Rather, this is a revised version of the old 1.6 with slightly less swept volume, some updated internal components and new induction and exhaust systems.

This isn’t an inherently quiet unit, but Ford has gone to pains to put refinement into the car by other means, with thicker carpets and side glass and more insulation between the engine bay and the cabin. The car is competitive with most, if not all, of the hatchback class’s smoothest operators on cruising manners, keeping vibration out of the cabin at all but very low crank speeds, but it gets a little coarse at high revs.

While good, it isn’t quite a match for the very best small diesels on flexibility or fuel economy. The 58.5mpg real-world average return recorded by our True MPG testers is a good 10% poorer than we achieved from the Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC, and only just pips Seat’s 57mpg Leon 1.6 TDI. It’s entirely acceptable from a car that doesn’t feel in any way compromised for the sake of economy, but it shouldn’t be a relative selling point.

On outright pulling power, the Ford feels fairly strong and performs quite well against the clock. There’s enough urge here to execute B-road overtakes with some confidence, and throttle pedal response is respectable. That said, a slightly sticky-feeling accelerator in our 1.5-litre diesel 119bhp test car made it hard to apportion power exactly as intended and hampered smooth motorway progress.

The ratios of the six-speed gearbox are well chosen, and its action is solid and well defined – quite weighty and mechanical-feeling. However, rushing a change through the gate when cold can sometimes lead to a refusal to engage, unless you’re steady and deliberate with the lever.

Even on standard 16in wheels the Focus’s braking performance is good, with a well-tuned pedal that is both easily modulated and reassuring in an emergency.

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    4
  • Peugeot 308
    The 308 marks the first time a carry-over name has been applied to an all-new Peugeot

    Peugeot 308

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    26 March 2015
    Does Suzuki's new city runabout have what it takes to succeed?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    Collins Performance has given the Fiesta ST 270bhp and 265lb ft, but has our favourite fast Ford been ruined in the process?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    The Seat Leon X-Perience is the closest thing to an SUV that you can buy with a Seat badge for now, blending estate practicality with off-road ability
  • First Drive
    24 March 2015
    Diesel-powered Mazda supermini has gutsy performance, good cruising manners and great economy. A lumpy ride is the major disappointment.
  • Car review
    24 March 2015
    BMW's facelifted M135i has more power, sharper looks and new technology. The previous version was a belter, so is this new one just as good?