The most notable revision with this facelifted Focus is in the powertrains. The 1.6-litre turbo, in both petrol and diesel flavours, has become a 1.5-litre turbo, with 148bhp and 180bhp in Ecoboost petrol forms, and 94bhp and 119bhp in diesel guise. The 1.0-litre Ecoboost with 123bhp remains the same.
In the latter form, the Focus has 3bhp more and torque of 148lb ft, the same as the Volkswagen Golf's 1.4 TSI 120bhp petrol motor. Much of the Ford's initial driving pleasure comes from the three-cylinder note. It oozes enthusiasm and encourages you to work it hard. However, this engine in the Focus can occasionally feel like it's the big turbo pulling you along in a bigger, heavier car.
The Focus’s ‘new’ 1.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine doesn’t strike you as the most state-of-the-art downsized motor – and it isn’t. Rather, this is a revised version of the old 1.6 with slightly less swept volume, some updated internal components and new induction and exhaust systems.
This isn’t an inherently quiet unit, but Ford has gone to pains to put refinement into the car by other means, with thicker carpets and side glass and more insulation between the engine bay and the cabin. The car is competitive with most, if not all, of the hatchback class’s smoothest operators on cruising manners, keeping vibration out of the cabin at all but very low crank speeds, but it gets a little coarse at high revs.
While good, it isn’t quite a match for the very best small diesels on flexibility or fuel economy. The 58.5mpg real-world average return recorded by our True MPG testers is a good 10% poorer than we achieved from the Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC, and only just pips Seat’s 57mpg Leon 1.6 TDI. It’s entirely acceptable from a car that doesn’t feel in any way compromised for the sake of economy, but it shouldn’t be a relative selling point.
On outright pulling power, the Ford feels fairly strong and performs quite well against the clock. There’s enough urge here to execute B-road overtakes with some confidence, and throttle pedal response is respectable. That said, a slightly sticky-feeling accelerator in our 1.5-litre diesel 119bhp test car made it hard to apportion power exactly as intended and hampered smooth motorway progress.
The ratios of the six-speed gearbox are well chosen, and its action is solid and well defined – quite weighty and mechanical-feeling. However, rushing a change through the gate when cold can sometimes lead to a refusal to engage, unless you’re steady and deliberate with the lever.
Even on standard 16in wheels the Focus’s braking performance is good, with a well-tuned pedal that is both easily modulated and reassuring in an emergency.