From £13,785
An excellent choice for most people but not as engaging as its predecessor
9 January 2011

What is it?

An all new version of our favourite hatchback. What's more, it's a global car, designed to sell in barely changed form all over the world and much of Ford's hopes for the continuing recovery of the company rests on its shoulders.

This version is especially interesting because it's Ford's first entry into the high powered diesel end of the class, allowing it to take on not only established rivals like the VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra, but also up and coming opponents like the Alfa Giulietta, all of which are available with similarly powerful engines under the bonnet.

Using a revised combustion process, increased pressure in the common rail delivery system and a low inertia, variable geometry turbo, the 2.0-litre TDCi now develops 161bhp, enough to power the Focus to 62mph in 8.6sec.

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What's it like?

In many parts it's outstanding. Think what you like about the exterior, inside the new Focus is a world removed from the old. The ergonomics are nowhere near as good as you'll find in a Golf but the quality of the materials used is at least on a par, while the design of the switchgear, dash and instrument has a distinctive and pleasing style. It's not a particularly spacious car, especially in the back where you'll be far more comfortable in as Astra, but by class standards its packaging is at least acceptable.

The next surprise comes when you turn the key or, more accurately, push the poorly sited and entirely unnecessary engine start button. This Focus is extremely quiet, extraordinarily so for one powered by a high output, four cylinder diesel engine.

Performance is good too: impressively, the weight of this Focus is almost identical to the outgoing model and while the engine's performance band is a little narrow, with peak power coming it low at 3750rpm, the six closely stacked ratios in the clean shifting box means you'll never have trouble keeping it on the boil.

Less impressive is the double clutch auto option, which can be unresponsive in auto mode and downright infuriating if you try to use it manually, thanks to the small and fiddly rocker switch on its side you need to use to change up and down.


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Ford has retained its game-changing 'control blade' independent rear suspension architecture but has retuned it to provide what appears to be class-leading ride quality, setting a standard that would worry many an allegedly far more luxurious car. Nor has this been achieved by softening the springs and dampers and sacrificing body control as a result. Even on the most difficult roads, the Focus stays poised and supple.

The only pity is that it seems rather less fun to drive than we're used to from a Focus. Electric power steering has robbed the feel that so distinguished both previous generations, while the chassis engineers appear to have decided, perhaps mindful of the car's new worldwide remit, to sacrifice some agility for stability. Despite a form of torque vectoring that makes the Focus able to brake and inside front wheel if slip is detected, there is more understeer and less of the old, instinctive balance than we’d hoped for.

Should I buy one?

For most people most of the time the Focus should prove an excellent choice. Though we'd love to spend our time driving over mountain passes, real life is about traffic, motorways, potholes and service stations and there's no doubt the new Focus is brilliantly adapted to the cut and thrust of daily life. More comfortable, quiet and classy than ever, it will provide capable transport for many millions of owners the world over.

But as enthusiasts first and foremost we're going to miss the way the old Focus drove. Yes it was nudging up against its sell-by date at the end, but the point was you didn't need to be at the Nurburgring to enjoy it. The feel of its steering and response of its chassis shone a little light onto every journey. Its replacement is one of the best cars in the class and we welcome it as such, but if you approach it expecting it to be a riot to drive, you, like us, might leave it feeling slightly disappointed.

Jamie Corstorphine

Ford Focus 2.0 TDCI Titanium X

Price: £22,745; 0-62mph: 8.6sec; Top speed: 135mph; Economy: 56.5mpg (combined); CO2 emissions: 129g/km; Kerb weight: 1421kg; Engine layout: 4 cyls in line, 1997cc, turbodiesel; Installation: Front, transverse, front-wheel drive; Power: 161bhp at 3750rpm; Torque: 251lb ft at 2000rpm; Power to weight: 113bhp per tonne; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate


14 January 2011

Oh dear. After driving the new C-Max, you guys were confidently predicting this was going to be a cracker. Seems the dual-clutch transmission has taken a turn for the worse too, despite being praised in the Mondeo and S-Max.

The previous model was quite odd - brilliant steer, rubbish cabin, decent but not outstanding drivetrain. Not quite sure if this really improves upon it - sounds like the cabin is still poor, and it's definitely uglier.

14 January 2011

Why is it so ugly? The interior looks like a Transformers' face

14 January 2011

I am quite dissapointed when i see this car.The mk 1 looked well in any trim,mk 2 looked good mid trim upwards but this doesnt look good no matter how much you spend.Shame. :(

14 January 2011

CarDesign wrote the following post at Jan 14, 2011 12:35 AM:

Why is it so ugly? The interior looks like a Transformers' face

I would not call it ugly a bit plane maybe the pumber is very dull and simple .It is a world car do so has to appeal to a lot off markets . The interior do is very classy and much nicer than anything in the Golf . Is a pity it is not the drivers car it is normally do maybe the people wanting that will just have to buy the C-Max .

14 January 2011

So it's not as fun to drive as the last one, which in turn wasn't as much fun as the first one? I was hoping it kinda made up for the way it looks with an amazing driving experience, but as is, it sounds just as disapointing as everything else in the class. Just another " should've / could've been better " car.

14 January 2011

I'm not that fussed that the latest Focus isn't a driver's car. I am, however, fussed about the way it looks. I just don't like it; I feel so strongly, in fact, that it would put me off buying one. Talk about fussy detailing and awkward angles! And to think... the first generation Focus was such a neat design (improved with the facelift, as well) the following generations have been steps backwards.

14 January 2011

I actually like the look of the exterior and interior. But I do find constant references of high performance and high output slightly laughable. When I first read I thought they had hidden a 3.0 diesel v6 under the hood, not a 2.0 diesel with a 0-60 of 8.6 seconds! I drove a diesel Dodge Caliber about four years ago which had roughly the same 0-60, I never heard any references about that being high performance. Sub 7 seconds to 60 can be considered quick.

14 January 2011

Cant say I like it .

Fords interiors seem to be getting increasingly tacky with swathes of "plastiminium" and awkward angles rather than curves .

To think I could have a mid spec Skoda Superb for the same money as this makes me realise how good the competition is getting .

14 January 2011

This car, and particular its interior, is fussy looking and will date very badly and very early.

14 January 2011

Never been a fan of Focus interiors, but while it is better than those headache inducing angles and curves of the Mark 1, to me it looks like the interior is becoming more Korean in style - at just the same time as Korean cars are becoming more European. Unfortunately, I think an i30 has a better exterior too.


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