First report: the Ford Focus Titanium X is one of the best hatchbacks around, but how does it compare to its first-generation predecessor?
It’s hard to believe that the Ford Focus has been with us for more than two decades. Over four generations of the model, Ford has shifted more than two million of them in the UK alone. And although the design is more than 20 years old, even the earliest versions seem fresh, with an eager chassis, steering that’s full of feel, and a sharp design. So much so that I’ve driven dozens and even owned two over the years, including the estate version in our photo.
As a cheap, spacious family runabout, the car is hard to beat. Despite the lack of power from its 1.6-litre engine and decidedly old-school ‘slush box’, I like it very much indeed. So the very latest Focus already has a tough act to follow in the Milne household.
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First impressions count, and the new car scores well. Slightly awkward front end aside, it could pass for a much more upmarket car, particularly at the rear, where it bears comparison with Mercedes’ latest A-Class.
The interior looks the part, too, especially with a crisp touchscreen and clear dials, although some of the touchpoints lack the last degree of finesse. The optional dark grey metallic paint, called Magnetic, has a deep sheen, which goes some way to justifying the rather steep £700 cost.
The doors shut with an Audi-like solidity, and the whole driving experience feels more polished than in the past couple of generations. The 2.0-litre diesel engine in our car is smooth and punchy, and quiet, too, both inside the cabin and outside.
In Titanium X spec, the ride is excellent. While the original Focus sought to rob sales from the Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic, this new model feels quite a lot like a VW Golf.
And so it should, because our car costs £25,555. But in fairness, Titanium X models like this come with more or less everything you really need, including part-leather trim, an electrically operated driver’s seat, 17-inch alloys and tinted rear windows.
That’s in addition to the Titanium’s LED rear lights, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, powered mirrors with puddle lights, and the SYNC 3 infotainment system with voice control, which is operated through a responsive and clear touchscreen.
One of the most prosaic features found on high-spec Focus models is probably one of the most important. That’s because, like many new cars, the Focus comes with the kind of keyless entry system that is a much-publicised security risk.
The latest set-up removes the need to store the key in a Faraday pouch, by entering a sleep mode after movement stops for 40 seconds. It’s then claimed to be impervious to scanners and Ford says the key will only work within a two-metre radius of the car.
Our Focus has a few well-priced options fitted, too. The £500 Driver Assistance Pack bundles traffic-sign recognition, auto high beam and adaptive cruise control, while the BLIS pack (blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and braking) is a further £400. The Convenience Pack is perhaps the best value, with a remarkably clear wide-angle reversing camera, clever door-edge protectors and automatic park assist.
The decision whether to choose the B&O Play audio upgrade is slightly harder. It has 10 speakers and a 675-watt amplifier, and sounds superb, with the kind of quality and volume you’d pay a great deal more for in other cars. But it’s a shame that it eats into the boot space significantly because the subwoofer sits in the spare-wheel well.
A reasonable 341 litres is cut to just 273, which may well be a deal-breaker for some – even if it swallows my daughter’s scooter, son’s buggy and other bits with relative ease.
Still, none of that matters when you’re behind the wheel, because the Focus is as agile as C-sector hatchbacks come. It has the tied-down feel and stability that marked the original out as the driver’s choice in its class.
The game has moved on, though, and the Focus and its rivals in 2019 are much closer. However, it’s still superb fun. As is the way in an economy-focused world, the original Focus’s hydraulic power-steering has been replaced by an electric set-up. This masks a fraction of delicacy – but you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to notice.
For an alternative review of the latest Ford Focus Hatchback visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk
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