The worry for Ford ’s rivals is that, even when equipped with the more basic torsion-beam rear axle, a strong case could still be made for the Focus being the best-handling car in its class.
As it stands, with the ST-Line’s fully independent rear axle and our test car’s optional three-mode adaptive dampers, in dynamic terms this is as sophisticated as the fourth-generation model gets, and it feels that way.
The ride is taut but supple with it, and superbly well controlled when asked to moderate quick-fire inputs. Meaningful traces of suspension float or any acquaintance with the bump-stops require a level of commitment at odds with the only moderately sporting brief, and until that point the vertical movements are metered out in clinical fashion.
Anybody coming from the more laid-back confines of a Volkswagen Golf might find the suspension of this sports chassis a fraction immediate on A- and B-roads, but for Autocar readers a fine balance has been struck. After the relative disappointment of the previous iteration – fidget-prone suspension and abrupt damping being the guilty parties – this new Focus goes a long way to reaffirming the brilliance of the 1998 original, albeit without the same communicative steering.
Such a finely tuned set-up will be lost on many owners – though nobody could fail to notice how fluid this car’s motorway gait is with the dampers in their most relaxed setting – but there is genuine dynamic satisfaction in abundance for the rest of us.