What is it?
This, then, is the £30,000 Ford Focus. No, not the crackling, warm-blooded ST, but the slightly higher-riding Active X car, adorned with ostensibly protective (but more realistically decorative) plastic body cladding, specified in plush Vignale range-topping trim and - in this case - equipped with a new mild-hybrid version of the entry-level 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine, the only petrol option now available.
The 48V system is familiar from the Puma crossover and has been introduced to the Focus - at the same time as the Fiesta - as a means of eking out a few more miles between fuel stops and cutting down on emissions. Ford claims an efficiency boost of up to 17% over the outgoing 1.5-litre engine, with MPG up from 48.7 to 51.4. It’s available in both 122bhp and 153bhp forms, the latter of which we’ve tested here.
The electrified option arrives as the Focus undergoes a subtle update with the aim of keeping it fresh until a more substantial facelift arrives, most likely towards the back end of next year. There’s a new entry-level Zetec option joining the range for the first time since the fourth-generation car was introduced in 2018, the stop/start function has been recalibrated to cut the engine while coasting in gear, and the analogue rev counter and speedometer have made way for a new 12.3in digital gauge cluster on certain trims (with hybrid-specific displays, in this case).
Refreshingly, though, the Focus’s cabin retains a decent balance between physical and touch-based controls, while its Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3 rivals plump for the more minimalist approach. On lower trims - as is the case with the Puma - this can make for a faintly utilitarian and uninspiring environment, but here in this Vignale car - bedecked throughout with leather-style Sensico upholstery and high-gloss trim inserts - it’s a welcome reminder of the car’s accessible billing.