2019 Ford Focus review – The best handling family car? | What Car?

2019 Ford Focus review – The best handling family car? | What Car?

Let’s imagine that you’re at the reigns
of car company that makes one of the best-selling cars in the country. In fact, that just flies out of showrooms year after year, despite some pretty impressive
rivals coming along to challenge it. And then you’re told that it needs replacing – tough
job, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened with Ford and the Focus, which is how we end
up with this all-new version. And boy, does it have a tough job on its hands. To see the scale of Ford’s problem, just
listen to a few of the rivals this Focus is up against – the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen
Golf, Skoda Octavia, Seat Leon, Mazda 3, Kia Ceed, the list goes on and on. And yet, Focus’s
of the past have cultivated a reputation for being better to drive than all of those rivals.
So can this new version do the same? That’s what we’ll be finding out in this video
review, as well as what the new Focus is like to live with, and how much you can get into
its boot. And remember we don’t just review cars at
What Car?, we can help you buy one at a great price too. Just go to whatcar.com and click
on our new car deals section to find out more. But before any of that, let’s see what this
new Focus is like to drive. Going through the Focus’s engine range takes
a bit of time, so here’s the cut-down version: you can have a 1.0-litre or 1.5-litre Ecoboost
petrol – and both engines are available in multiple power outputs ranging from 84bhp
to 180bhp – or if you’ll be doing enough miles to justify a diesel, then you have 1.5
and 2.0-litre options to choose from ranging from 94bhp to 148bhp. Our pick of the engine range is the 123bhp
1.0-litre petrol, named the Ecoboost 125. While it’s not as punchy as an equivalently
priced 1.5-litre petrol in the Skoda Octavia, it’s flexible, with a good spread of performance
throughout the rev range. It’s also efficient, with CO2 emissions from just 108g/km. The
petrol choices are clever, too – all feature cylinder deactivation, which shuts down one
cylinder when you’re cruising along to save fuel. The petrol engines feel smooth and are quiet,
only producing a background thrum under hard acceleration. The 1.5-litre diesel feels a
bit grumbly at idle but is no worse than its rivals, and in any case it settles down at
speed. There’s some wind noise from around the door mirrors on the motorway, but road
noise is well suppressed and over all, we’d put refinement down as one of the Focus’s
strengths. No matter which Focus you go for, you’ll
get a quick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but an eight-speed automatic
is optional across most of the range. What suspension your Focus comes with depends
on which engine and trim you choose – the ST-Line versions are slightly firmer while
some engines feature a more complex suspension arrangement – but fundamentally the Focus
is a great riding car no matter which version you buy; if you’re looking for a comparison,
it sits somewhere between the ultra-supple Volkswagen Golf and the sometimes-lumpy Skoda
Octavia in the comfort stakes. You can upgrade to adaptive dampers, but our feeling is that
the standard car is so good there’s really very little need to. And so to handling, and remember this is one
area where the Focus traditionally excels. And there’s no change with this new version
– the Focus is one of the very best cars to drive in this class. No matter which version
you buy, it handles sweetly and flows with almost balletic balance along all sorts of
roads; the accurate and beautifully weighted steering is a big part of its joy if you’re
a keen driver. Slide behind the wheel in the Focus and you’ll
notice how comfortable this driver’s seat is. You get height and lumbar adjustment on
all trims, and if you go for the comfort seats, which are optional on cheaper trim levels
then you get 18-way adjustment with extendable thigh support – well worth having – but not something I need to worry about! Elsewhere, this steering wheel adjusts for
both height and reach, which means you can easily find a great driving position. And for some added luxury, Zetec trim and above get this armrest. But what about parking? Well, the view out
of the front of the Focus is pretty good, and while the rear window tapers up towards
a couple of thick pillars it’s no worse than other cars in this class. Front and rear
parking sensors come as standard on ST-Line X models and above, but only cost a couple
of hundred pounds to add on cheaper models. You can also add a reversing camera from the
options list. Now, build quality was a bit, let’s say
hit and miss, in the previous Focus, and while this new model improves things it’s still
far from class-leading on quality. Starting with the good bits, all of these upper surfaces
feel soft to touch, and every model from Zetec trim upwards gets a leather-wrapped gearknob
and steering wheel. These carpeted door bins are also a nice touch. Very few surfaces,
however, have the same lustre as you’ll find in a Golf or Octavia, and if you look
lower down you’ll find plenty of harsh plastics, and even the shiny seat upholstery you get
on certain models feels a little low-rent. When it comes to infotainment, entry-level
cars get a 4.2-inch screen which offers a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and two
USB ports, while big-selling Zetec and ST-Line models get a 6.5-inch touchscreen which also
gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. You’d have to be very tall indeed to struggle
for room here in the front of the Focus, and there’s as much room for your legs in here
as there is in the class-leading Skoda Octavia. This interior is nice and wide, too, and there
are numerous places to store your odds and ends, such as this tray in the centre console. You can fit a few healthy snacks, and a drink in there! And you’ve also got this handy tray, which I can put my lip gloss on. And, we’ve got two cupholders here. The door bins are a little on the small side, and the bottle isn’t very stable in there. I’d leave that in the centre cupholders. The glovebox is a decent size, it can accommodate more than my sunglasses! There’s also a spot here for your mobile phone! Step into these rear seats and where once
space back here was a downside of the Focus, that’s no longer the case. Again, this new
model is on par with the cavernous Octavia for leg room, and while head room is a tad
less than the Skoda, even if you’re six feet tall you’ll be quite happy back here. As always, taller middle passengers get the
rawest deal thanks to a raised middle seat, but for the most part rear passengers in the
Focus have plenty of space. If you’re planning a weekend of DIY or extreme
gardening, then you’ll be glad to know that the Focus has at least as much space in its
boot as a Volkswagen Golf. There’s a small lip to lift items over, but the boot’s square
shape means that carrying a large pram or a selection of suitcases needn’t pose a
problem. If you need more space, then the rear seats
split and fold to create a largely flat floor – although there are no handy release levers
by the tailgate as you’ll find in some rivals. There are seven trim levels to choose from
in the Focus, and entry level Style cars are priced in line with the Skoda Octavia, while
being cheaper than five-door versions of the Volkswagen Golf. We’d recommend going for
a mid-range Titanium model if you can, because it comes with everything that the big-selling
Zetec cars have, but also adds front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start,
heated front seats and the larger infotainment screen with sat-nav. It’s still keenly priced,
too. And as already mentioned, we’d team it with the punchy but frugal 1.0-litre Ecoboost
125 petrol engine. When it comes to safety kit, every Focus comes
with automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assistance, and you can add adaptive cruise
control and traffic sign recognition for a reasonable price. The latest Ford Focus stands out as being
the best driver’s car in its class. It offers a fine ride and decent practicality, and while
some parts of its interior are below par compared with rivals, it’s still well worth considering
if you’re looking for a family car. For plenty more on the Focus, including our
full review of it and its key rivals, head to whatcar.com, and while you’re there click
through to our new car deals section and have a click through. But before you do anything else, hit subscribe
and never miss another video.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. The build quality is awful ,see how the steering column moves and isn't fixed properly when she fixes the steering wheel . Typical Ford.

  2. Not impressed with the old Ford rattler build quality still lacking behind the very best plenty of room in the drivers seat for two i noticed best of luck with the baby Rebecca

  3. You better look at the transmission if it has the duel clutch trans the getrag transmission that's y you don see this car on the road google fords getrag focus transmission problems the focus in the us is so bad other dealers don't want them on trade how dare the try to sell this piece of crap to the public

  4. To need those comfy seats when your sitting on the side of the road waiting for a wrecker to take it to ford garage 2017focus worst junk ever 23k at 11k was oferd 6k on a trade that's if they could fix trans problems every body at service counter same problems service manager at ford told me they can't fix the trans problem so on rheas new cars better read up on transmission I won't buy a cat trans hats a belt driven constant velocity trans or a duel clutch computer controlled getrag trans there junk there trying to get the best gas mileage I get that. But if rather spend in gas than sit at the delers

  5. Every class of car is getting so big; this Focus is no exception but despite this the boot is inadequate at only 375l; less than a VW Polo. I personally don't care about rear seat accommodation too much, but I need a large boot, so all those extra inches of length are used in the wrong place for me and make the car harder to park or see out of the back.
    Disappointing that this review didn't cover the different rear suspension (and gearbox) options that are fitted depending on whether the car is a lower or higher range model. I care about this and the resultant driving characteristics far more than cubby holes for snacks and the scratchiness of lower interior plastics that are always mentioned.
    Rebecca is an excellent presenter but What Car needs to do much better in its reviews. Car Wow does it much better…..

  6. The exterior look of this car is terrible. The mark 2.5 was the best looking focus by a mile. Hardly seen any of these new ones out there so something has gone wrong.

  7. I tested in Nice all 1.5 versions (ST LINE petrol SW with 182 bhp; the Titanium 120 bhp diesel; and the Vignale diesel with 150 bhp) and they were all very good. The Vignale is a real rival for the Golf…

  8. i hate cars [a to b for me]]ive had 40 odd cars in 40 years driving[[conservative number] had 3 focus .best car ive driven..too all you big heads in your audis and golfs[do you know they were da fuhrers fave cars ..yes the mad austrian] japanese cars reliable but awful drives..vauxhall painful and working class ..and the french ..next[electics are rubbish ] so the blue oval all day long…forget the badge snobs otr the personal number plate clowns…drive focus superb..

  9. 1:06 "Fiiirst" ahahahahah. WHy everyone is trying to push this very NON economical eco-boost engine, when we all know is far from economical in real world. The visibility on the back is compromised because you are very short, and you cant see anything. For a normal sized driver, it is not a problem. You should have mentioned that.

  10. Is the B&O sound system available on the normal st line ford focus as i see on the ford catalogue is shows it as an option for an extra fee?

  11. Another car we don't get in the U.S. We were going to get the Focus Activ, then Ford Decided to keep that from the U.S. too. I had a 2012 Focus hatchback. Loved that car. Good power, handling, and versatility. Not to mention I could get 46.8 mpg (That's 39 mpg in the U.S.) on the interstate. Was thinking of trading for the new Focus or Focus Activ until Ford U.S. decided to axe it here. 😡 😡 😡. Ironic that an American car brand offers better cars in other countries than it's own. My Ford Escape (Kuga) will probably be my last Ford.

  12. Why you keep comparing this to Skoda Octavia ? I drove these two the Octavia feels cheap compared to the ford

  13. what happens if you sit in your lovely new ford focus in a garage with door closed engine running …… think before poisoning the world …

  14. I have this exact focus same colour and spec. Now it had to go back to the dealer at 1500km for 2 new anti roll bar links now at 3000km thers something wrong with the gearbox it makes a clunking noise in 1st 2nd and 3rd gears the dealer replaced the clutch but that didnt fix it now ford ireland wont replace the gearbox only 2nd gear in the box? This is my 3rd new car and all have given trouble. Ive been driving 33 years and can say that cars are getting worse for reliability.

  15. I have a Mk3 (2016) model, which is a great car. I would recommend the estate car version which has the same characteristics as the saloon, but with loads of room. I would certainly go for the 1.5L engine with a manual or torque-converter auto gearbox. Avoid the dual-clutch robotic box which is very jerky.

    Mine is a 1.5L estate with a torque-converter 6-gear auto, which can easily be used as a manual box (put it in S and shift the gears with the up-down button) for cross-country driving. In mountain driving, it has great handling, performance and gearing (when used in manual mode). Finish and quality is good (German-made). The down side is urban fuel economy (can be 6 to 7 km/l).

  16. 180 bhp and 8,9 sec 0-60? Its not good enough….a deal breaker for me… I test drove a preowned Volvo V40 T4 (190bhp) and it was fast, 0-60 in 6,8.

  17. Good review Rebecca but recommend the Kuga, much better seating position/ better comfort/ space, and 100% better on Uk roads.

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