I had the opportunity to drive both of them on winding Spanish roads yesterday and came back feeling very enthusiastic about the new car. I wasn’t sure what I thought of the looks when I saw the photos - the nose design is a little busy for my tastes - though I like the upright, tall grille. But in the metal the new Focus looks terrific, a bit like a full-grown Fiesta.
The appeal of the styling, inside and out, is obviously subjective - Chris576, one of our forum users, thinks the dash looks like a boombox. I found the cabin to be much more engaging than I’d expected, particularly when I drove one of the higher-specced Titanium editions and found that the techy feel of the interior thoroughly justifies the technology. The best gadget by far reads the speed limit signs as you drive along, stores the info and displays it on the dash. Bearing in mind how often they change in town nowadays, that’s a terrific idea. And it didn’t miss one sign in a couple of hundred miles driving.
Jamie Corstorphine pointed out in his first drive how the Focus’s handling has changed, as the car matures to a third generation. He’s expressed it so well, I won’t paraphrase it. But having cruised at high speed and hacked my way through some challenging country roads for a couple of days, I can’t help feeling that the damping out of the ‘adjustability’ - the edgy feeling of the Mk1 and Mk2 - is more than justified by the sheer quietness and stability at high speed.
I also had the opportunity to drive the Ecoboost on 18in wheels, optional five-spokers fitted with 235/40 R18s instead of the 215/50 R17s on the standard car. It’s got a superbly free-spinning engine that encourages you to sit it on the red line for most of the afternoon. There was a fair bit more road noise, but there was also a big nod towards the ‘pointy’ enthusiasm of the Mk2 for getting stuck into a corner, which makes me think that Zetec S with sports suspension will feel much closer to the Focus’s roots.