The arrival of the new Ford Focus will have been observed closely by the Blue Oval’s key rivals. And given the weight of expectation placed on this stalwart of the family hatchback segment by customer and competitor alike, chances are such an occasion elicits a good deal of perturbation back at Ford, too.

So it’s a good thing, then, that this fourth-generation model is now more practical, more advanced and more attractive than it was before. What makes it an even more compelling prospect, though, is that it’s now better than ever at what has always been its raison d’être: the way it drives. The introduction of a new platform, new engine and new adaptive dampers are crucial contributors to this realisation.

Better to drive and look at than before, and impressively good value

Of course, the new Focus isn’t without its bugbears. It doesn’t command quite the same prestige as some of its more premium-badged rivals and its cabin does want for material and visual appeal. Ultimately, though, these are small niggles, and certainly not of enough consequence to rob the Focus of class honours here.