What is it?
It’s the new, prettified version of Ford’s best-selling hatchback. Not a single body panel is carried over from the previous model (although some of the changes are minor, to put it mildly), but underneath it’s more of the same.
Ford’s engineering team concentrated on improving refinement and interior quality instead of mucking around with a chassis that is, let’s be honest, still the class benchmark.
What’s it like?
Impressive. All of the basics that have made the Focus such a great car for British roads are still in place; it steers with beautiful precision and retains its fantastic blend of pliable ride and lateral grip.
Better still, the boggo 1.6 Zetec engine – which used to make itself heard when asked to hit motorway speeds in fifth gear – is now a further layer of noise insulation away from the driver’s seat. So all that you hear at 70mph is a bit of wind noise, some road thrum (worse on the optional 17in wheels fitted to our test car) and a distant rev or three.
The interior represents a moderate gain over the old car; the Mondeo-esque centre dash looks reasonably posh (it brightens up the various shades of grey that dominate everywhere else), the Sony stereo sounds good and build quality seems tight all round.