BY BRIAN BYRNE
ALTHOUGH crossover-style cars have more or less taken over the market at all levels, the compact family hatch is still a significant format.
Ford’s Focus remains one of the firm favourites here, even if it has just been pipped in sales by arch-rival VW Golf for this year. It is also one of those cars which retain customer loyalty really well.
After a slew of very technologically advanced cars for review over recent months, it was nice to get back into something that equates with the normal in family car motoring.
The Focus EcoBoost Hybrid has been around now for a year or so, but the fourth generation body is familiar for most of four years — it still looks well, particularly in the ST Line dress of my review car.
The body and detailing have a nice sporty character. A hint of Coke-bottle profile, good character to the front end, and a neat rear.
Even though a revised version is coming next year, this one holds its age very well. The spoiler over the rear window is nicely integrated into the tailgate hatch, and adds some stretch to the look.
Inside, this generation Focus has plenty of room front and rear, with especially good legroom for those in the back seats. There’s decent luggage space too.
In the driver’s space there’s a tidy and main traditional instruments setup, with good colour and bright graphics.
The centre touch-screen seems quite small by the standards of many competitors now, but I liked it for that (the revised version will have something much wider).
I mention the straightforward rotary knobs for the climate control because they are as they should be from all makes, though aren’t. The high quality trim we always get from Ford is set off in this grade with some nice red stitching.
The main reason for being invited back into a car launched four years ago was the powertrain.
Ford hasn’t been the fastest carmaker off the electrification blocks — indeed it could be said the company is taking it all at a fairly leisurely walk rather than running, though the Mustang Mach-E that I wrote about last week is going gangbusters for them, selling everything they can produce.
This Focus had the 125hp 1.0 3-cylinder familiar, with a mild-hybrid 48-volt electrical system that recoups energy from coasting and braking, and uses it to help the engine under acceleration.
There’s no electric drive involved, but the extra torque from the MH system gives some better pickup and improved fuel consumption.
The three-pot engine I like anyhow. And with the electrification there’s a noticeable uptick in refinement, a bit of extra verve when pushed. The engine has a whirr at the high revs it likes, but no trace of harshness. There’s no automatic option with this one, but the 6-speed manual is as sweet a shift as anything in the business. Handling and ride are still the bench-marker Focus established with this version.
I wouldn’t feel left behind at all with this one in my driveway. Halfway through its generational life, there’s an awful lot more than half left.
What I like: I got what I expected, even when the expectation was high.
Price: Entry level €24,997.
Review car including extras €28,521.