Why we ran it: To find out if Ford’s all-purpose hatchback remains the driver’s car of choice in the family car class
Life with a Ford Focus: Month 7
Our road testers like it and so does the buying public, but the acid test has been living with it. So are we sorry to see it go? - 20th November 2019
In the time that this latest Ford Focus has been on our fleet, it’s notable just how common a sight it has become on the streets of Britain. Notable, but not surprising. The fourth-generation model has been on sale just over a year but it already feels like it’s been around far longer.
Which is, of course, exactly as it should be. For more than 20 years, the Focus has consistently hovered near the top of the UK’s best-selling cars list. Ford sold 49,517 in the UK in the first 10 months of 2019. Only two cars have sold more: the Ford Fiesta and the Volkswagen Golf, long the biggest class rival for the Focus.
The Golf and Focus are split by just 951 sales, which so late into the year reflects the intense competition between them – and it explains Ford’s development, erm, focus for the fourth-gen Focus. As our esteemed road testers will tell you, the Focus has long been the class leader for ride and handling but has struggled to compete with the Golf – and, increasingly, premium models such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class – in terms of tech, interior comfort and perceived quality.
By running the Focus, we wanted to find out if it retained that winning mix of strong handling and immense practicality, but also if Ford had given it the extra polish to compete with rivals that feature a ‘posher’ badge.
On that first point, the Focus remains an absolute hit. Our ST-Line X model – with 180bhp 1.5-litre three-pot Ecoboost engine, six-speed manual ’box, 18in wheels and active dampers – remains a compelling drive. It’s comfortable on the motorway and dual carriageways but really comes into its own on a flowing country lane. Although it’s no hardened hot hatch (you’ll need a full-on Focus ST for that), it turns in and corners with aplomb and offers plentiful and rewarding feedback without ever feeling overly stiff or uncomfortable. Then, when you get to the supermarket, you have a practical, spacious car that will house considerable amounts of shopping.
As for practicality, our art editor, Sarah Ozgül, put the Focus through its paces in the process of moving house, using it to transport new and old furniture, DIY projects and a surprising number of big wooden doors, and – even though the odd bit of creativity was required when it came to loading – she found the it up to every challenge. For anyone in the market for a car of this size, it’s hard to think of a realistic load-hauling scenario in which the Focus wouldn’t be up to the job.