This hatchback has a large boot, small footprint and plenty of leg room for four adults
Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader
The Ford Focus hatchback has been among the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK since its inception, and was only beaten to the top spot this year by its smaller sibling, the Fiesta. Get behind the wheel and it’s easy to see why you might choose this car over a VW Golf, Mazda3, Honda Civic, Audi A3, Mercedes A-class, BMW 1-Series or Vauxhall Astra (see how crowded this market is?!): there exists a near-perfect blend of the three ps – performance, practicality and price.
The Ford Focus Vignale is not the most exciting car to look at: the current equivalents from Audi, BMW and Mercedes all look better, but will also cost you more. We had a Vignale version, which is the top spec, with a dark Mulberry paint job (a £550 extra), and the panoramic sunroof (£995).
The new fat grille at the front makes a good statement, and this is the most handsome Focus to date, with a creased rear that hides some of the traditional hatchback lumpiness.
Inside the Vignale spec gives you a dark wood insert along the dash which we could have done without – it kicks any cool, youthful vibe into touch. The black leather is smart, however and the lack of clutter in the cabin adds to a sense of space and light.
Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system isn’t the best – while the graphics for the satnav are clear and helpful, when our iPhone was plugged in for Apple CarPlay, it over-rode the car’s own satnav which we needed as we were in the wilds of the Highlands with no phone reception for most of our long weekend with the car. There was then a short delay between selecting various functions and them actually doing anything, which got annoying, we struggled to get rid of the waypoints on a satnav route and the satnav does not tell you initially how many miles to your destination, which means you can’t readily calculate the fuel you need.
However, the wireless phone charging in the car was a welcome addition for just £100 more, as was the Driver Assistance Pack, which is a positive bargain at £500 for traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control (does the braking and accelerating for you while keeping a monitored distance from the car in front) and lane-centring assist which nudges you back should you stray over the white lines.
Standard tech includes for the Vignale includes a heads-up display, active park assist, hill-start hold, cruise control and pre-collision alert – it proves you should do your homework and check the higher price of a top-spec car against how much kit it’s loaded with – a cheaper initial outlay can sometimes prove a false economy.
A large boot makes this a good family car when combined with a relatively small footprint for easier parking. The seats are supportive and there’s plenty of leg room for four adults. My partner remarked how smooth the car felt over the rutted, potholed lanes of Skye – the supportive suspension set-up is one of the reasons Ford continues to sell its hatchbacks and SUVs in such large numbers over here in the UK. The car was also surprisingly quiet at motorway speeds – normally you have to spend at least £30,000 to achieve such high-speed refinement – see pricing details below.
The 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine that Ford sells is an incredible unit – very feisty from a standstill for the first few seconds, which makes this car feel like it’s got more power than it has (182 horsepower). We had the eight-speed automatic, controlled via a rotary knob instead of a gear lever, which was a bit slow to engage Drive or Reverse: we’d choose a manual gearbox.
You’ll do 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds which is fine for a family car but won’t set your hair on fire, but in return you’ll achieve just under 40mpg which is very reasonable – we drove all over the Highlands from Inverness, across to the top of Skye, and back to the airport via Loch Ness on one tank.
The Ford Focus Vignale with the 1.5-litre Ecoboost starts at £28,500; with our options the price rose to £31,270. Look at both a PCP and an HP deal (no option to keep the vehicle after three years but in return you don’t pay the depreciation as well as the hire price) to decide which monthly payment plan is best for you. With good reliability and a friendly dealer network, the Focus should be on your list if you’re after a hatchback.