There’s a line-up of petrol and diesel engines, with a mild hybrid to follow. Newest and spangliest are the 1.5-litre units, of which there are petrol and diesel. So far I’ve driven the petrol, which is a new engine, in 179bhp form, though there’s a 148bhp one too. It’s a three-cylinder; you’ll find it in the Fiesta ST too.
The 1.5 diesels are 90% new, and come in 94bhp and 118bhp flavours. Then there’s a 148bhp 2.0-litre. Finallly, for now, there’s the 1.0-litre three cylinder petrol, of 84bhp, 99bhp and 124bhp, which has been slightly revised. I’ve tried the 124bhp petrol.
Both cars I’ve tried were fitted with six-speed manual gearboxes, while the 1.5 had independent rear suspension and, being an ST-Line X (£25,300), rode that bit lower. The 1.0 was a Titanium spec (£21,550) and rode on a torsion beam. Both had 17in rims. Neither had the adaptive dampers.
Focus prices start at £17,930 and rise to around £30,000.
What is the 2018 Ford Focus like inside the cabin?
Spacious, for one thing. Head room is good in the front, the steering wheel adjusts widely and that there’s an electric parking brake means there’s more room on the centre console for oddments storage.
The dashboard sits further forward than in previous Foci, while in the back there’s really generous leg and head room and, because the rear window line extends a long way back, visibility is good and it’s airy too. The boot’s a respectable 375 to 1354 litres but there’s a small load lip. The rear seats go almost flat.
Perceived quality is mostly good. The upper surfaces are, anyway, although some of the lower plastics and those in the back are specced to a price. It’s designed functionally enough. There’s a touchscreen atop the dash but, while the button count has been slashed like a DFS sofa price, the stuff you’d want to be still a button is still a button – the volume controls, heater controls, and so on.
There’s probably still not the clinical efficiency of a Volkswagen Golf to the way things feel. But on the plus side, there aren’t half a dozen other cars off the same platform that feel exactly the same bar the badges, either.
Is the 2018 Focus still best-in-class on the road?
What has always marked a Focus out, mind, is the way it drives. We’ll start with the 1.5 179bhp, and with the fancy rear suspension because that’s what a Focus has always had. In this form, with a manual ’box (that’s new too, incidentally), it’s a 1369kg car – a pretty Golfy kinda weight. The torsion beam would lose around 10kg.
It drives really nicely. As in: best-in-class nicely. The old Focus probably retired as still just about the best car in the class to drive and this improves things. It does things in that Fordy way. The ride has both a suppleness and composure to it; it’s really well controlled and athletic, but never harsh, and it doesn’t really matter how many inputs you throw at it at once, it always seems to have something in hand. The steering is a touch lighter than I can remember (you can firm it up, though only a bit, via a drive mode button), but it’s accurate and precise, if not giving the last word in communication.
The three-cylinder, 1.5 engine is quiet and smooth too. This is an unusually big power output for a non-diesel, non-outright sporty car, although it only emits/consumes 124g/km/51.4mpg on the new WLTP fuel cycle, so it’ll be more popular than a car like this would have been five years ago. There’s cylinder deactivation under light loads, but I can’t feel it happening. And the six-speed manual’s slick too. It does that thing that the best manual ’boxes do, when you get the stick pulled halfway into its plane and an over-centre weighting takes over and pulls the lever home. It feels like it’s on your side, that way.