End of the road for the Ford Focus?

The FocusThe Focus
The Focus
It is hard to imagine a future without Focus. The mid-sized Ford family car has been a global best-seller and an everyday sight on roads in the UK and beyond since 1998.

I remember the fanfare as news of the new name broke. It replaced the Escort which itself had been a staple of the motoring world since 1968 and it made a live broadcast on the BBC’s early rolling news channel.

My colleagues and I crowded around the newsroom television to watch the new name being announced as the Escort was discarded. It was a global news event.

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But time moves on. Focus, now in its fourth generation, will cease to be from 2025 when Ford will concentrate on electric vehicles. A wise move? Only time will tell if the Government’s rush to swap diesel and petrol for EV (electric vehicle) power is wise. Truth is, we have lots of hurdles to overcome in a very short space of time if we are to hit the 2030 target.

The cabinThe cabin
The cabin

I’m guessing there will still be a lot of Focuses – and other petrol and diesel cars – still on the road then.

I’m a fan. I must confess my dad was a Fordophile, He must have had 20 of them over the years from Consuls and Anglias to Cortinas and Fiestas. I too once had an XR2, which I wish I'd kept. It would be wprth a fsmall fortune now such is the demand for nostalgia from the 1980s.

I haven’t always a Ford fan. The company had a difficult job, being the country’s biggest selling brand. While smaller outfits could dare to be different, Ford had to play the sensible role which meant many of its cars were comparatively boring.

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It was also the benchmark for everything including price, so Ford models suffered from aggressive marketing with near rivals marginally undercutting them.

But Ford survived, thanks to some interesting models. It found its mojo with Kuga and Puma leading the way. And even the soon-to-be-lost Focus has found its edge.

It might no longer be the country’s best-seller because we all apparently want SUVs and crossovers. But there is a traditional market for traditional cars and Focus still has its fans.

The latest model tested here is sublime: it is attractive, well-equipped, balanced, fun to drive and competitively priced. It manages, thanks to a broad range of prices and specifications, to tackle the two-pronged threat of ever-improving budget cars and more affordable premium models.

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So, how does Focus match up? There are two to choose from. Actually, there are quite a few models and variants, but the two you should really look at the are the ST-Line and the Titanium.

Both are impressive. Titanium is better suited to drivers who prefer to ride in comfort and is a more practical car well-suited to families. This car would also be considered a perfect match for long-distance drivers who spend a huge amount of time on the road.

ST-Line is better suited for a sporty car and is better suited for those who are looking for the features and speed of the Focus ST but without the same initial and ongoing costs.

Available on new Focus for the first time, next-generation SYNC 4 – supported by a 13.2in centre screen – enables cloud-connected navigation and connected voice control.

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Electrified EcoBoost Hybrid 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains enhance efficiency, refinement and fun-to-drive, available for the first time with a seven-speed dual-clutch Powershift automatic option that makes light work of driving in city and stop-start traffic while complementing the hybrid powertrain’s electrically-boosted performance.

A suite of next-generation driver assistance technologies includes Blind Spot Assist, Intersection Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Speed Sign Recognition and Lane Centring.

A new iteration of Ford’s “human-centric” design philosophy brings greater confidence and boldness to the Focus exterior in five-door and wagon (estate) bodystyles, with new bonnet profiles, LED headlights and a more distinctive approach to Titanium, ST-Line and Active variants. Each gains styling elements that express their individual personalities, with an available X pack bringing high specification, and expanded Vignale pack availability delivering ultimate luxury and exclusive design features.

Ford also has revealed the new Focus ST – powered by a 280 PS 2.3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine – featuring all-new performance seats and bold exterior design that further emphasises its high-performance character.

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New Focus also for the first time introduces an automatic transmission option for the fuel-saving EcoBoost Hybrid 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains, offering up to 155 PS. The seven-speed, dual-clutch Powershift automatic makes driving less demanding – particularly in city and stop-start traffic – while complementing the hybrid powertrain’s electrically-boosted performance for typical Focus fun-to-drive.

But tested here is a 1.0 litre model. I know, it sounds like a very lightweight engine for a family car but it actually works well, offering ample energy and refinement.

The new Focus introduces Ford’s next-generation SYNC 4 technology to greater numbers of customers than ever before, enabling cloud-connected navigation and connected voice control. SYNC 4 is supported by an all-new, largest in segment 13.2in centre screen. It is intuitive and designed to make it effortless to navigate a comprehensive range of driving and comfort features.

Main features on the Titanium include large alloy wheels, LED lights, cruise control including an adjustable speed limiter, keyless entry and keyless start and front and rear parking sensors.

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It’s fair to say Focus has improved over the years. And it’s fair to say this model will be missed when the electric bandwagon rolls into town.

Ford Focus 1.0 litre Titanium EcoBoost

Price: £24,480

Engine: a 1.0 litre petrol engine

Performance: Top speed 124mph and 0 to 60mph in 10.2 seconds

Costs: 47.9mpg average

Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles