First drive: 2015 Ford Focus

2014 Ford Focus five-door hatchback (5-door). The new Focus has adopted the more prominent front grille from the Fiesta.
2014 Ford Focus five-door hatchback (5-door). The new Focus has adopted the more prominent front grille from the Fiesta.
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WHAT’S NEW?: The Focus is the world’s best-selling car, so you could say this update is a bit important to Ford. Feast your eyes on the new grille in all its shiny chrome-effect glory, as well as the neater, tauter light cluster designs. The interior has had something of a renaissance as well, with higher-quality materials and a much better media interface screen. Under the bonnet, you can pick new engine options, too, with 1.5-litre petrol and diesel options fresh from the test bench. Thanks to clever modern tech, the petrol can push out as much as 179bhp, while the economical diesel can potentially nudge 74mpg.

LOOKS AND IMAGE: Aside from the new grille and the shiny bits, which look and feel quite American in the flesh, the Focus has been nipped and tucked to create cleaner lines that better flatter its ubiquitous shape. The hawkish headlights are a highlight, and only get prettier the more you look at them. As for this car’s image it clearly doesn’t have any popularity issues among British drivers, despite some middling scores in reliability and ownership satisfaction surveys. It has been sitting pretty at the top of the UK’s sales charts for years and shows no sign of slipping.

2014 Ford Focus interior. The updated Focus interior is easy to use than before. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.

2014 Ford Focus interior. The updated Focus interior is easy to use than before. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY: The boot is straightforward, with a tyre repair kit beneath a single base panel. You don’t get hidden compartments or luggage nets as standard. There’s a surprising amount of room for two adult rear passengers, though, and only people pushing beyond the six-foot mark will feel cramped. Some might say the front door pockets are a little awkwardly shaped, but there are several small cubby holes for bits and pieces, including one that’s felt-lined to silence any potential rattling.

BEHIND THE WHEEL: The 2015 Focus is a huge step up in terms of perceived quality and technology. The chunky seats and robust-feeling control points on this high-end trim grade all ooze sturdiness. The eight-inch media screen is sharp and intuitive, too, although it can get a little crowded at times as the interface tries to squeeze too much on at once. A reputation for being the best ‘driver’s car’ in the segment isn’t entirely justified, with rivals breathing down the Focus’ neck more than ever. The ride is really something to shout about, though. The heavier 2.0-litre diesel model in particular has the composure of a meditating monk on bumpy roads.

VALUE FOR MONEY: While it doesn’t look cheap, Ford dealers can usually chop a bit off the asking price. And as the ever-advancing march of technology continues buyers can look to cheaper models to give them all they really need, as previously advanced gadgets filter down the range. Modest trim levels could be the best value.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?: The Focus has such a broad appeal that people from all walks of life own one. Young, old, style-conscious or comfort-biased, the Focus can cover pretty much all bases. It’s a prince among compact family hatchbacks and offers enough space, practicality, economy and affordability to tempt thousands of people to buy.

Undated Handout Photo of 2014 Ford Focus five-door hatchback (5-door). The Focus's familiar hatchback shape has aged well. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.

Undated Handout Photo of 2014 Ford Focus five-door hatchback (5-door). The Focus's familiar hatchback shape has aged well. See PA Feature MOTORING Road Test. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature MOTORING Road Test.