Ford’s Focus is back to its best

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Among keen drivers, Ford’s Focus has long been a favourite for its pin sharp handling and  responsive steering. Not surprisingly it ranks highly with fleet car drivers for that attribute, while being a versatile, easy to live with, and pretty cost agreeable all-rounder.

Time doesn’t stand still for man or machine though, hence the Focus gets a mid-life facelift to keep it in contention in this most competitive of car segments. Arriving here in November, it features significant revisions inside and out, as well as some new engines – though not all will be offered in Ireland.

Driving the new Focus for the first time in the roads around Malaga in Spain, first impressions are certainly positive. The revised styling gives it a more purposeful appearance and better proportioned balance than before, while inside there’s a feeling of quality, at least in the high-spec versions on offer in Spain. Noteworthy is a new eight inch colour touch screen featuring the latest and significantly improved SYNC 2, Ford’s connectivity system. Sadly though, it will only be available as an optional extra in Ireland.

Dynamically, the Focus is back to its best. Which is to say the best handling hatchback on the market today. There are revisions to the suspension set up and electric power steering, the result being a car that is a pure pleasure to push on it, one that offers superb driver feedback and communication.

Priced from €20,295, the range is comprised of four series from the entry-level Focus, Focus Style, Zetec and top of the range Titanium. Engine wise there is a new 1.5 litre diesel TDCi on the way next year. In the meantime the old 95PS and 115PS 1.6 litre diesel continues, along with the 150PS 2.0 diesel and Ford’s excellent 1.0 litre EcoBoost petrol unit.

First impressions certainly indicate that the Focus is back to its brilliant best, and should remain a fleet favourite for the foreseeable future. We’d like though to see a few more of the excellent technological and safety features to be offered as standard in Ireland.