Once, the Ford Focus represented the best drive in its class, with general competitiveness in other areas. These days its strongest merits have shifted somewhat.

Today it's so sophisticated in feel, so quiet at a cruise and stable at motorway speeds that it could quite easily come from the class above.

The Focus used to offer something unique. Now, though, that’s not the case

But we do mourn some of the loss of its old sparkle, its driving joie de vivre - the thing that gave it a unique edge in the segment. These days that's still sound, but not outstanding.

When it comes to prices and specs, the Focus is also in the mix. There's little to choose between it and its key rivals, even if Korean hatchbacks appear to offer better value. They can't touch the Focus for fit-and-finish and we like the big-car tech you can get in the Focus too.

The Focus is a very strong car, competing for the class lead and excellent in many respects.

But it’s a shame that a car that was, for so long, outstanding in the way it drove, is left to make a case for itself in objective areas, just like the rest.