Ever since the Ford Focus was launched in the early noughties, it revolutionised the family hatchback segment and on closer inspection, it’s easy to see why. When it replaced the tired and dated Escort, it brought a fresh, new, futuristic look and was also great to drive and practical too – key ingredients for making a successful family car.
However, as time moved on so did the car industry and it seems the family hatchback now has a whole new competitor in the form of the crossover. Cars like the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Karoq offer even more practicality plus a higher driving position albeit with a less driver-involved experience.
Now, it seems that the mid-sized family segment is evolving again, with a greater emphasis being placed on efficiency and lower emissions, which is why we’re seeing a new breed of hybrids, mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids entering the segment. So, this is one of the reasons why we’re looking at the latest generation Ford focus mild hybrid.
Now, most of the team who run long-termers tend to do quite a few miles, but having relocated in the North West, I tend to do more than most, so it will be interesting to see how efficient and how much money can potentially be saved by running a mid-sized family hatch over non-hybrid alternatives.
Now with the Focus being part of the video department, practicality is essential. I don’t travel light and usually end up with a variety of tripods, cameras, drones and all the other paraphernalia that comes with a growing video department. So space is going to be a key factor, also I’ve got a rather large dog so he needs to have some room as well. But while space practicality and economy are important I’ve also got to be comfortable so creature comforts are also an important consideration.
So, where do we start? Well, inside the cabin of the Focus is Ford’s Sync 4 system built into a 13.2 inch touchscreen which incorporates DAB radio, emergency assist, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a B&O premium audio system with 10 speakers and Ford Pass Connect. Now I’m no stranger to Ford long-termers having run a Mondeo and S-Max and this new system is leaps and bounds more user-friendly than those of old.
One of the main criticisms we seem to notice with a lot of new cars now is the integration of the climate control into the infotainment screen. They do this to help the ‘design architecture’ and make it as clean and stylish as possible – plus it no doubt brings down manufacturing costs. Frankly, it’s a real pain to change the temperature in most cars that feature this, especially if you’re trying to operate the controls while on the move. It’s the same in the Focus, and while it is distracting, it’s not as bad as I’ve seen in other cars. There are some shortcuts at the bottom of the screen, and within a couple of presses, you can change the temperature or fan speed. It’s just if you’re trying to do it while the navigation is on, it’s simply not ideal.
The screen now is very clear and quick so very responsive and setting up the Apple CarPlay was an absolute doddle. The other feature we’ve got on the Focus – a £400 optional extra – is a head-up display that gives you information like speed limit signs and your actual speed. It’s a nice ‘add-on’ to have and it’s not too distracting, but not something I’d say you have to have. The digital display in front of the driver which shows all your important driving information is a welcome departure from the analogue style and it’s very clear and nicely laid out.
As we’ve come to expect from Ford the ergonomics are spot-on, so you don’t find random buttons scattered all over the dash and it’s also very well put together. There are a few cheap plastics on show in areas which will no doubt age badly over time but there’s no piano black gloss which might look nice when you first buy the car but over time gathers dust and looks very tired quite quickly.
In terms of the powertrain, this Focus uses a six-speed manual gearbox linked to a one-litre petrol engine that pumps out around about 153bhp and 240Nm of torque. That’s good for 0-60mph time of nine seconds and a top speed of 131 mph, which isn’t bad for a car with a 1.0-litre engine. In fact, when you’re driving it you’d be hard pushed to know it was a 1.0-litre if you didn’t know. It cruises comfortably on the motorway and is nippy around town.
Ford claims that if you drive it carefully you should return an average fuel economy of 44.1 mpg which isn’t too far off what we’ve managed so far. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve done a mix of motorway country lanes in town driving and are averaging just under 46 mpg which isn’t bad especially when you consider my rather heavy right foot.
Over the next few months, the Focus will be put to good use as part of the video department travelling up and down the country to various different shoots as well as coping with everyday life taking the dogs to and from walks as well as little escapes. We will keep you up-to-date with the progress.
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