Top Gear's web review:
A new Ford Focus? But it looks like the old one!
It's very similar, we'll give you that. The third generation Focus has been facelifted - neater headlights and the latest company grille - but there's no major step change. And with good reason: for the last two years, this has been the world's best selling car, and it's on course to take the title again in 2014.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and all that.
Indeed. But that hasn't stopped Ford from implementing a raft of measured improvements, with new engines (and an inevitable focus on boosting fuel economy and slicing CO2 emissions), small dynamic tweaks and a rejigged interior.
Is it still great to drive?
When the Focus replaced the ageing Escort 16 years ago, the sharpness of its dynamics was nothing short of revelatory. Passing years have seen the Focus grow in weight while rivals have caught up a little, but this mid-life update for the gen3 Focus gets it right back on its game.
Changes are slight, and centred mainly around tuning the electric power steering for ease of use and making the dampers more compliant. But a resulting benefit is an increase in agility, with keener responses from a more natural and satisfying steering rack. It's impressive for an EPAS system.
The overriding impression the Focus gives is of its front and rear ends working in harmony; a tricky sequence of corners won't outfox the Focus, its accomplished suspension set-up soaking up surface changes while the rear axle is willing to play a role in tightening your cornering line if you ask it to. There are reassuringly high levels of grip for when you simply want to get places, but plenty of driver interaction for when you want to do so smiling. And it's always composed.
And what about those new engines?
A new sub-99g/km 1.5-litre diesel engine will mop up nearly half of Focus sales, though 118bhp is as hot as it gets. We bee-lined straight for the range's new petrol engine, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder Ecoboost turbo unit which comes in 148bhp and 180bhp guises, both claiming 127g/km CO2 emissions and 51.4mpg. The more potent version was available for us to try, and it's mostly very good, its gutsy spread of torque delivered with a linearity akin to a naturally aspirated engine, which will please keen drivers.
It's only north of 2500rpm that things really get going, though, and a lack of low-down verve was particularly noticeable when slicing through town centre traffic and while grabbing a gear lower than normal to keep pace up steeper hills. Good excuse to exercise a decent six-speed manual gearbox, though.
What about that rejigged interior?
This is an area in which the Focus - and Fords in general - has been long overdue some love. Its dashboard has previously been a bit of an ergonomic puzzle, tiny air con and entertainment buttons scattered across the centre console willy nilly. No more. There's a new touchscreen system that immediately slashes the button-count, and its on-screen design has clearly been influenced by some of the more intuitive systems out there, such as Audi's MMI. It works well, and makes the interior look and feel a lot better. The plastics still aren't a match for VW's, mind.
How about technology?
Tons of the stuff. The gen3 Focus was a bit of a market leader when it arrived in 2011, with plenty of big car tech such as self parking and lane departure warning. This has been updated and added to, with the park assist now pulling you out of the tight bay it's spookily swung you into and more diligent crash avoidance radars up front.
Sounds great. Where's the catch?
In the showroom. If you want this 180bhp engine then you must whizz straight up to Titanium X spec, which means lots of goodies, but also a base price of £23,520. Or around £1500 more than the (admittedly less luxurious) Focus ST currently costs, with its 247bhp and madcap attitude.
The 148bhp 1.5 Ecoboost has the same 177lb ft torque figure as the 180bhp version, though, with prices starting at £20,545 for a Zetec S. If you want a Focus and nothing more, there's an old fashioned 84bhp 1.6 petrol for £13,995.