$20,290 – $38,290
Good: Ride & handling especially the razor sharp ST variant; Sharp European exterior design; Wide range of variants; Fuel efficiency on the diesel engine; Awesome sports interior ST variant.
Not so Good: Button overload on centre stack; Jerky automatic transmissions; Poor turning circle on the higher grades fitted with the bigger wheels (ST included).
Design and Engineering
Good : Ford released its third-generation Focus in Australia in August 2011, available in both, four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, across a wide range of grades.
The radical new design of the Focus is modern and edgy; the front of the vehicle features a large gaping mouth with two air vents at either side while the front grille has been squished into a slimline design.
The side profile of the Focus is sleek and aggressive; the Focus Trend (entry model) is fitted with 16-inch alloys while the Focus Titanium gets 18-inch alloys and the truly insane Focus ST also gets a set of 18-inch alloys that fill the wheel arches nicely.
At the rear the Focus features some rather unique tail lights that start from the boot and wrap their way around and onto the side of the vehicle.
The Focus ST features a more aggressive design that sets it apart from the rest of the model line-up. Featuring a sporty front bumper with a low air vent and ST badging, sport side skirts, rear window roof spoiler and a sporty rear bumper with an integrated centre exhaust tip.
Exterior fit and finish is top notch with minimal panel gaps around the entire vehicle.
Not so good : Unlike the ST, the rear bumper design on lower grades don’t match the radical design of the rest of the vehicle, instead Ford have used a conservative design with straight, flat lines.
Interior and Styling
Good: Ford claim that they have improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels and I tend to agree. The interior is very quiet; with minimal road and wind noise present in the cabin. The Ford Focus features a very modern looking interior; the dash is finished in soft touch plastic that is black with touches of alloy look highlights on the door handles and centre console (Titanium model).
The Focus also features some pretty comfortable seats that offer up good levels of support; however they could do with a little more side bolstering as you tend to slide while pushing through corners at speed.
Stepping things up, the Focus ST features some of the best looking and most snug Recaro sports bucket seats going around. Each model features colour coordinated highlights that best contrast with the exterior colour of your car.
If you choose get your ST finished in Colorado Red or Tangerine Scream the seats will actually match the exterior colour.
Not so good : While the Focus looks and feels premium, it comes across a little fussy, there is a s*#load of buttons on the centre console, the information display is also complicated and not very easy to navigate. Anyone over the 70kgs threshold will feel a bit claustrophobic in the ST’s Recaro bucket seats.
Good : The Ford Focus comes with the choice of four engines three petrol and one diesel.
Kicking things off is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that manages 92kW of power and 159Nm of torque when matched to a five-speed manual or 6-speed automatic (optional).
Next is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that manages 125kW of power and 202Nm of torque when matched to a five-speed manual or 6-speed automatic (optional).
And, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine produces 120kW of power and a massive 340Nm of torque.
We saved the best till last, powering the Focus ST is Fords 2.0-litre turbo petrol EcoBoost engine that has been dialled up to 184kW of power and a whopping 340Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission.
The 2.0-litre petrol and the 2.0-litre diesel we drove; were both fitted with a 6-speed Sports Automatic Dual Clutch transmission. The 6-speed automatic is definitely setup with the driving enthusiast in mind as the auto box changes gears quickly and aggressively.
While the smooth shifting 6-speed manual in the ST has a well weighted clutch allows for quick gear changes. The ST features plenty of torque that is available from 2000 – 4500rpm, engine pick up and throttle response is very good.
Not so good : Because the 6-speed automatic is set up for quick shifting the car tends to jolt during low speed manoeuvres and city driving.
Ride and Handling
Good : Ride and handling is top notch; the Ford Focus is a solid performer. The chassis feels tight and ready for action; pushing the Focus through some twisty country roads you notice very minimal bodyroll and in the ST bodyroll is non existent.
The solid and direct steering wheel feel gives great driver feedback, the ST feels like a go-kart, the steering feel is really sharp, this gives the ST great driving dynamics that allows you to change turning directions in the blink of an eye….well maybe not that quick, but it’s quick.
The Ford Focus certainly inspires driver confidence with a good level of grip, smooth and responsive handling.
Not so good : The larger 18-inch wheels fitted to the Titanium and ST grades really hampers the turning circle and low speed maneuverability.
Buying and Owning
Good : The Ford Focus is a great package and a solid performer. There is the choice of four engines across four different variants. The 2.0-litre diesel is a great engine that is smooth, quiet and refined, while the 2.0-litre turbo EcoBoost has a roar when putting your right foot down.
The turbo surge that you get from the ST is truly addictive, plus the high levels of grip and handling make this one hell of a hot hatch that has what it takes to mix it with the best of them.
Not so good : Does the freshly styled Ford Focus have what it takes to go up against the likes of Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Holden Cruze, Hyundai i30 or Volkswagen Golf? Only time will tell.