Sales success has come to the Focus for more than one reason. Enthusiasts will think of sharp steering and deft body control, but a decent range of engines, fine practicality, striking looks and a distinguishing price are more likely to have endeared the car to the majority.

Those latter facets – combined with a smarter cabin, more economical engines and new  gadgets – will stand this new version in better stead than ever for most.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The facelifted Focus is improved in all ways bar one. It's appealing, but no longer excels dynamically

However, the slow decline of the Focus’s handling dynamism has brought it back to the melee of mid-class contention when it used to be head and shoulders clear. The Focus handles very tidily, and better than most of its peers, but not with the uncanny polish and verve that set its forebears apart.

The refreshed Focus is improved in all ways bar one. It's still a very appealing, complete car. However, an undistinguished drive means it no longer excels dynamically.

Sportier flavours of the car are still to come and may yet prove superior. But for now, we must welcome the Focus with the qualified applause that its drive inspires.

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

  • First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Lavishly-equipped, rugged-looking Peugeot 508 estate is a pleasant drive, but there are many more recommendable alternatives
  • 308 GT 1.6-litre petrol is priced from £24,095
    First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Peugeot's given the 308 the engine from the 208 GTi 30th and some chassis upgrades; we find out if the changes bring a bit of old-school Peugeot hot-hatch magic to this likeable family hatch.
  • 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