What is it?
It’s still ‘the one’ to drive, say the people who’ve created the new Ford Focus. Although obviously they don’t put it quite like that: they reckon it’s the most "confidence-inspiring, intuitive and rewarding driver and occupant experience of any mid-size family car in Europe".
Thing is, there isn’t just one mid-sized family car, but three or four, really: a normal five-door hatch, a posh version (the Vignale), a wagon and a tall Active version.
And it doesn’t stop there, either, because there are two different rear suspension options – one independent, one not - because some markets don’t care so much about vehicle dynamics, and a torsion beam is a lot cheaper than what Ford has variously called a control blade or a short-long-arm suspension over the years. Then there’s the option of adaptive dampers too. Oh, and ST-Line trim that lowers the standard ride height by 10mm.
Imagine, then, that in all this, Ford has managed to reduce the number of orderable Focus configurations by some 92% over its predecessor. There’s less overall choice, but it’s a broader, more defined choice.
The basics, though. The new Focus as tested right here is a five-door hatchback. At 4.38m long, it’s average for the class; at 1820mm, as wide as it was before; and it’s 15mm lower. The wheelbase is long, at 2701mm.
It sits on Ford’s new ‘C2’ platform, which is apparently quite flexible, but not in the very literal sense: it’s actually torsionally more rigid than the old Focus and lighter too: up to 88kg, like for like.
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.