It’s no secret that the previous generations of the Ford Focus have been the best in the sector, edging out rivals like the Vauxhall Astra, Renault Megane, Peugeot 308 and Seat Leon.
And with Ford going strong with the likes of the Fiesta, C-MAX, Kuga, S-MAX and Galaxy there was little reason not to believe that the all-new Focus shouldn’t retain its crown.
Prices start from £15,995 for the five door hatch – £500 more than the outgoing model, but Ford says that there is over £1,00 worth of extra standard kit – while there’s a premium of £1,000 for the cheapest diesel model.
The quite superb Ecoboost petrol engines start from £19,745 with Titanium specifications – but if you get a better engine with your better standard kit, then what the hell?
Imagine a larger Fiesta and you hold in your mind’s eye an image of the new Focus. It’s swept back and has a steep back windscreen, so there’s a coupe-like profile.
Inside the 2011 Focus is even better. It’s wonderfully comfortable and looks excellently designed – as if every element of the interior has been pored over until it’s right. Soft-touch plastics and little leather details complete the look and the dash is clearly laid out, even though the Focus is brimming with technology and gadgetry.
And what gadgetry. Digital radio, air con, remote central locking, electronic seats, stability control, front, side and curtain airbags, Bluetooth with voice control and a USB connection are all standard on the new Ford Focus.
But, available as options are a wealth of intelligent and useful gadgets such as cameras, RADAR and LIDAR that can analyse road signs, apply braking to avert a crash, warn you if you’re veering off course, check you’re sufficiently awake to stay behind the wheel and dip your high beam.
There’s even more kit that will parallel park your Focus for you using parking sensors, doing all the steering for you. Quite remarkable levels of tech on a car this affordable.
There’s a large engine choice in the Focus range, so choose your engines wisely. Ford says that drivers doing around 15,000 miles a year will save with a diesel, so drivers looking for more economy should choose a low-powered diesel engine. There are more engaging 2.0-litre diesels and the 150PS Ecoboost petrol engine is a hoot, developing 177lb-ft of torque and hitting 62mph in 8.6 seconds while managing to return an impressive 47.1mpg
The ride quality of the new Focus is extremely high, with the car a noticeable improvment in terms of ride comfort and refinement over the previous model. It’s quiet and hushed and the handling, while still sharp, is more planted and preditable.
Cornering feels particularly assured thanks to an ESP-based torque vectoring differential that applies braking to individual wheels to boost grip. Electronic steering is also precise and well-weighted.
It all adds up to a strong package and reaffirms Ford’s dominance in the small-car sector. Once again the Focus is comfortably at the top of the tree.
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