Ford’s new generation Focus small car has plenty going for it and is easily the best Focus yet…. by a long shot.
It marks the beginning of a different engineering philosophy that goes down the road of other European manufacturers by using a small capacity, turbo petrol engine to hit performance, economy and emissions targets.
Big capacity fours and diesels are getting the bullet.
In new Focus, Ford has dropped the manual altogether and wisely fitted a conventional eight speed auto across the range.
Even the body benefits from new thinking with superior laser welding for gains in strength and safety.
Focus has always held a certain “European” appeal and was different enough from a rash of other offerings in the segment.
However, it’s never really lit up sales charts here but this one should change that because new Focus is every bit as good to drive as a VW Golf or even a BMW when you get down to the nitty gritty.
Don’t worry about the fact that there’s a 1.5-litre, three cylinder engine under the bonnet as it comfortably sees off most if not all of the competition and uses minimal fuel.
No three cylinder exhaust warble either.
The ST-Line is one up from the base and gets a fair amount of kit including some advanced driver assist tech’ but misses out on the full range which is optionally available in a safety pack.
I like the looks of Focus, inside and outside, and the price is competitive especially for a German made product.
It’s an evolution of the previous model but more curvy and edgy. The pronounced front has an air of Hyundai i30 (and others) about it with a large snout and honeycomb grille featuring inset driving light apertures and set back, sloping headlights.
It has complex side panels with nicely executed style lines tapering back to a truncated rear end with Volvo V40 overtones.
The roofline is tapered towards the back and is low and sleek in appearance.
Focus ST-Line has a sporty stance and rides 10mm lower than the standard model also running larger 17-inch alloys to neatly fill the wheel arches. A mild body aero kit adorns various parts of the car.
It looks like a bigger car than the previous model, more pumped out and more assertive from all angles.
Focus looks especially good in the more vibrant colours.
Inside is “classy European” in the latest idiom.
Ford has been able to emulate VW’s stylish layout and finish in Focus that is both functional and good looking inside.
It has the now ubiquitous central control touch screen housing Ford’s class leading SYNC3 infotainment system and there’s a flat bottom, multi-function wheel with paddle shifters. The instrument pod has a display screen between the two main dials and the centre console between the seats features a rotary gear selector instead of a stick.
They use a faux carbon fascia material to contrast with smooth plastics throughout the interior and the ST-Line has sporty, well bolstered seats with cloth upholstery.
There’s plenty of room inside for four or five and a large boot down the back.
The roofline may be low but headroom isn’t an issue because of the low seat height.
Visibility is excellent in every direction and there’s an air of quality inside missing on previous model Focus.
- Sports suspension
- Active grille shutter
- Underbody aerodynamic cover
- Auto headlights and wipers
- Cornering LED lights
- Dual zone climate control
- Keyless entry/button start
- Metal pedals
- Dark roof lining
- Tyre pressure monitor
Drive and Engine
It’s a surprise to feel how strong the 1.5-litre, 134kW/240Nm Focus is as it delivers robust performance across a broad speed range. Due to an integrated exhaust manifold and turbo, there’s no lag as the car gets out of the blocks quickly and keeps on pulling hard up to near engine redline.
Plenty of clever tech’ goes into making Focus perform and to minimise emissions. It gets dual fuel injection into the inlet ports and also directly into the combustion chamber and variable cam timing along with internal friction minimisation.
The 8-speed auto keeps everything in the right place for optimum response and fuel economy and you can’t feel when gears change.
This allows new Focus to be driven in a sporty manner if you want to.
Leave it in D and the car is responsive in any of three drive modes.
The ride is firmish and responses from the steering and brakes are sharp.
It turns in quickly and more lock can be pulled on mid-corner if required.
Minimal noise intrudes into the cabin and the overall drive feel is very positive, sporty and controlled.
Though the full range of driver assist technology is optionally available on ST-Line, the Focus scores 5-stars and goes further with a range of advanced driver assist technology as standard like;
- Forward collision warning
- Post collision braking
- Lane departure warning
- AEB with pedestrian and cyclist recognition
- Reverse camera
- Tyre pressure monitor
- Impressive performance
- Impressive dynamics and ride
- Looks great
- Well featured
- 8-Speed auto
- German made
- SYNC 3 infotainment system
Not So Good Bits
- Worrying past reputation
- Styling a touch copy-cat
Having driven all the Focus models going back years, I can confidently say this is the best. It goes great, looks classy, is safe and economical and the ST-Line driven is good value. Only problem is….. Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, VW Golf, Mazda3, Kia Cerato, Subaru Impreza and others.
Facts and Figures: 2019 Ford Focus ST_Line hatch
- Engine: 1.5L, 3-Cylinder turbo petrol producing 134kW/240Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $28,990