Our car’s Ruby red paint is the most expensive colour at £800, and I actually prefer a few of the cheaper metallic options. That said, I reckon the Focus still looks nice in the no-cost Race red standard colour, so we’ll take that to keep costs down (it’s worth noting that red is the only standard paint, with every other hue adding at least £250).
Right, which option boxes are we keeping ticked? The continuously controlled damping (£650) is definitely staying: I wouldn’t get rid of anything that might compromise our Focus’s excellent ride, poise and handling. The £400 blind-spot monitor, £500 Driver Assistance Pack (including very useful adaptive cruise control) and £500 Convenience Pack (including rearview camera and sensors) add up quickly but feel worth having for the extra safety and security.
A quick whirl on the Ford UK configurator shows I’ve cut the cost of the Focus down to £28,445. A useful saving, although, depending on your viewpoint, possibly still verging on premium territory.
What this exercise doesn’t recognise is that PCP deals have changed the way people buy cars. Ford says about half of UK Focus sales are of higher-level models – ST-Line, ST-Line X and Vignale trim (Ford didn’t have data on how many options were picked). In part, that’s because a higher list price can boost the residual values, which in turn results in lower monthly payments on higher-end trim models.
Besides, is the Focus that expensive in the current market? To compare, on the Volkswagen website I specced up a 1.5 Golf with equipment to match that of our £31,145 Focus as closely as possible, and I came up with a final price of £32,725. Would you opt for the better ride and handling of the Focus, or the greater interior sheen and polish of the Golf? It’s a tough call, and one probably settled on personal priorities and opinion.
Ultimately, what constitutes a premium car is subjective and, in that regard, the sheer ubiquity of the Focus counts against it. The fourth-generation model was only launched last year, but you already see a large number of them on the roads. And, let’s face it, Ford’s Blue Oval simply doesn’t have the prestige of car firms such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW.
But while there are sharper, shinier, more ‘premium’ machines in the family hatch class, the Focus, as our road testers found – and my experience backs up – might be better to drive than all of them. Well, the normal versions of all of them. I’ll accept that the Focus ST-Line X can’t match the Golf R for performance. That said, the Golf R now starts from £36,160, rising to £40,935 with kit to match our Focus.
I’ll leave it to Mark, and other buyers, to decide if they want to spend that extra for the big increase in performance. Although if they’re in the market for a performance hatch, they might want to wait until the Focus ST goes on sale, with an entry price of £29,495. Yup, it’s another option to consider…