The Ford Focus is so familiar and, to an extent, so respected, that it’s like legal tender on the used car market. The generation under discussion here is the Mk3 – but with a twist, since we’re looking at the facelifted car launched in 2014.
To its credit, where some manufacturers might be content with a set of sparkly LEDs for their mid-life update, Ford went further with the Focus, cramming in more driver assistance tech, a new touchscreen media system within a revised interior and a new engine line-up. It even found space for a larger centre cubby. However, for all its efforts, the cabin still looks and feels a rung below the Volkswagen Golf’s. Still, that’s fine because the Focus delights in other ways, not least its keener handling. Avoid the larger wheels and it’s comfortable, too.
Naturally there are thousands of these mid-life Mk3s for sale. Given that the Focus is a staple of company fleets, you’d think the diesel versions – they come in 1.5 and 2.0-litre guises – would dominate, but that honour goes to the petrols and the three-cylinder 1.0-litre engines in particular.
These come in 99bhp and 123bhp varieties, with the latter easily the most numerous. Its appeal lies in its price and performance, but don’t expect to achieve the claimed economy since it has to be worked hard to make decent progress. Fortunately, that’s no chore given how smooth and revvy it is.
The other petrols are 1.5-litre four-cylinder affairs offered in 148bhp and 180bhp forms. They’re scarce but are worth seeking out since they seem to have ducked the rumours concerning the possible unreliability of the smaller three-cylinder engines. Above them sits the 247bhp 2.0-litre in the Focus ST. The RS, meanwhile, deserves its own guide.
The 1.5-litre petrols are spirited performers and relaxed cruisers, but if you’re anticipating long motorway drives loaded with passengers and luggage, check out the torquier diesels. The 1.5 TDCi engines come in 94bhp and 123bhp guises, while the 2.0 TDCi puts out 148bhp. The 1.5’s predecessor, the 1.6 TDCi, continued to be sold for a year or so but was only around £100 cheaper. It’s less economical, but then the 1.5’s economy isn’t that impressive. Neither is inherently quiet but, with the facelift, Ford took the trouble to improve the Focus’s noise insulation, so they’re quite acceptable.