In 1998 Ford gave the world what was to become an international success. Replacing the much loved Escort, the Focus entered the market with a fresh new curvaceous look as well as practicality that was admired by all. Better still the driving element of the car was not lost in stereotypical “school run conveyance” fashion. It was involving, it was comfortable, it was practical and good looking. The Focus collected multiple awards year on year affirming its position as top dog in its class. Generations later and the car is still at the top of its game, however with competitors continuously looking to take its crown Ford’s next incarnation has to take things to the next level.
Enter the 2011 Ford Focus, a car the company hopes will put the likes of the VW Golf back in its place. We were lucky enough to be invited to Keith Motors V.I.P preview event to test the car prior to launch.This all-new effort is a big step for the blue oval as for the first time this Focus will be sold universally meaning both Europe and America will receive the very same car. Though financially that makes good business sense, the likes and dislikes of each continent do tend to clash. Can Ford really bring together the best of both worlds?
In a word… Yes. This new Focus with its well sculpted body and thoroughly redesigned interior does its forefathers justice. Starting with the exterior, the new architecture brings a fresh look to the car yet it is still unquestionably a Focus and keeps within those proportions we know and love. It’s very tidy and in a dark colour could even pass for a car costing much more. Our test car was the new 1.6 litre Titanium EcoBoost engine with start/stop technology. As a result the interior had a few added toys but even without them, the Focus’ interior is where the design revolution has hit its peak. It is unrecognizable in comparison with the previous model! Gone are the flat facias and sloping dashboards, in their place are very sculpted and intricate shapes that give the cabin a true premium feel. The Ford Focus was never a car for a meaning less journey to somewhere or other but in this evolution it is just so grown up. Professional is the word I would use with every aspect of it being very,excuse the pun, focused. The centre console is extremely ergonomic as everything is not only well laid out but also thanks to its hight, never too far away. The seats are another huge plus of this car with ample support in all areas and it even offer some nice body hugging bolsters. Passengers in the back will also enjoy the good levels of leg room and the amount of natural of light that is let in through the cars large windows. But the thing that does it for me on the subject of interior are all the little details that Ford could have easily over looked. Things like fitting the interior lights with LED’s or the fact that the door pockets glow a colour of your choosing when it gets dark. The Ford Focus has also always been commended for the size of its boot and I am pleased to say that this positive can also be granted to this car. The only real thing that didn’t quite fall to my taste, and being honest I am really nit-picking here, was the shape of the hand-break leaver. Its a bit high and stands out a bit obscurely when it is on. However it functions adequately and isn’t awkward to use but will take time to get used to.
And so we come to a very important moment for this car. Taking the Focus on to the road will make or break it as though it has many great qualities, the thing that made all Focus’ stand above the competition was the way it moved. This 1.6 with 150BHP and 6 speed gearbox does shift. Getting out of junctions just isn’t an issue with appropriate power and responsive feedback. The steering was light and very responsive allowing for the wide track of the car to be placed on the road with high levels of accuracy. Something Ford have got spot on with the new Focus is its suspension. It irons out the bumps in the road with ease yet also isn’t sloppy around the corners. This in combination with other elements of the car make the drive both tranquil and enjoyable from the drivers perspective. From within the confides of the cabin road noise is very minimalistic to the point where the Golf and other premium hatchbacks should be worried. Though the start/stop techno-wizardry is near unnoticeable and reduces fuel consumption very well I do admire Ford for giving the option of turning it off. This isn’t because I dislike the system but because it gives you the freedom to choose. So many cars with “green” technology behind them take a “like it or lump it” attitude towards when they are used but by Ford providing an off button it feels like that the car has been designed to respect the drivers wishes.
The new Ford Focus starts at £15,995 ford the base 1.6 petrol and goes all the way up to £25,905 for the 2.0 TDCi estate. Our car was somewhere in between coming in at £19,745 and so makes for a good weight to sit in our pedestal of judgement. Overall I feel Ford has done it again giving the motor industry yet another fantastic peoples car. Along the way it has picked up a few new tricks that should more than see off many competitors.