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New Ford Focus: everything you need to know

Published: 03 July 2018

► New Ford Focus revealed
► Prices in detail, here
► Everything you need to know

Thew new Ford Focus, ‘is the ultimate evolution of the Focus species,' says Joe Bakaj, Ford of Europe’s product development chief.  They mean a great deal, because for the last 20 years, the Focus has vied with Volkswagen’s Golf to be the best family hatchback you can buy.

This is a major launch for Ford: the Focus nameplate is the car maker's second biggest-selling model worldwide, after the F150 pick-up truck. It's a regular at top of the UK sales charts, too, although it has now been overtaken by the smaller Fiesta supermini in the #1 spot.

On this page you'll find out everything you need to know about the new Ford Focus, from how much it costs in the UK, to what's changed between the new model and the old one. And we'll also give you our initial verdict, too. With that said, keep reading for the full CAR Magazine lowdown on the new Ford Focus.

Models and price

So, how much better is the fourth-generation model, which will start at a UK price of £17,930? Ford claims the new car offers best-in-class cabin space, driving dynamics and aerodynamics – which helps deliver a 12 per cent cut in fuel consumption – and makes big advances in driver assistance systems and connectivity (for a Ford, anyway).

Ford Focus hatchback, Estate, Active

There’s a broad choice of models: in addition to the five-door hatch, Ford will sell a stylish but capacious estate, an SUV-inspired Active version, plus luxurious Vignale and sporty ST-Line trims. 

For 2018, Ford is keen to push the Focus into more bodystyles and niches, in an attempt to hoover up more buyers tempted to stop buying hatchbacks in favour of crossovers and SUVs.

Browse Ford Focus for sale

Better interior design

All these claimed benefits stem from an all-new vehicle architecture. The Blue Oval's latest C2 platform positions the wheels closer to the corners of the car, compared with the previous Focus, extending the wheelbase and freeing up more space for occupants. Rear passengers benefit from bountiful leg-space and shoulder room, but people up front will appreciate a dashboard pushed 100mm closer to the engine too. All this extra space hasn’t come by the Focus bloating in size either: the new car is only a thumb’s width longer than the Mk3. 

Read our new Ford Focus review: we drive the latest hatchback

It’s lower too, reducing the ratio of bodyside to wheels (which range from 16- to 18-inches in diameter). These revised proportions make for a more muscular, sporting look. Wraparound lamps front and rear make the car appear wider, and the sheet metal has a hat-trick of fabulous creases that catch the light and the eye, such as the undulating line from grille to tail-lamp that carves a concave channel in the bonnet’s edge. It’s a fine-looking five-door. 

Although predominantly steel, the Ford's C2 architecture blends different thicknesses and types (including strong but light boron steel) to reduce weight. The average saving is 50kg, but some variants shed up to 88kg. The aluminium front end transmits the shockwaves from a collision along multiple paths around the cabin, while the reduced mass will have contributed to the new Focus’s braking distance shortening by up to a metre from 62mph. 

The Ford Focus wagon: new 2018 Estate has been unveiled in these first pictures

To quieten noise, the monocoque is more resistant to bending than the outgoing car’s, and the suspension attachment points are 50 per cent stiffer, enabling more precise dynamic responses. ‘The next-generation architecture brings new technology to the customer, but it’s still great fun to drive and has great steering feel, things that customers over the last 20 years have loved about Focus,’ pledges Joe Bakaj. ‘It’s still got that Ford feeling that puts a smile on your face on a country road.’

Drive modes

Back in 1998, the original Focus introduced an independent rear suspension to the family hatchback class. The short-/long-arm design of its mounting points, to alter the wheel camber during cornering, boosted grip and helped build the Focus’s reputation for great handling. 

Read our new Ford Focus review: we drive the latest hatchback

A new-generation Focus powered by the two bigger displacement engines (1.5-litre petrol or 2.0-litre diesel) employs the SLA rear axle, as do the wagon and Vignale; the smaller 1.0-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines are coupled with a twist beam suspension. This features the ‘force vectoring’ springs introduced on the Fiesta ST hot hatch, which channel cornering forces into the spring to boost lateral stiffness. 

The new Ford Focus Estate here for 2018

Not before time, every Focus gets adaptive drive modes, adjusting the throttle, steering, automatic transmission and cruise control programmes between Eco, Normal and Sport modes. SLA-equipped models can be coupled with Continuously Controlled Damping (£650-£800) which can adjust the damping force every two milliseconds to vary ride comfort.

Ford says the system is sensitive enough to mitigate the impact of a front wheel rolling out of a pothole, and the control system will prime the trailing rear wheel to travel through the same rut as smoothly as possible. CCD gives a range of Eco, Normal and Comfort suspension settings too, and yields two additional drive modes, Comfort and Eco-Comfort. 

‘Our all-new chassis combined with sophisticated technologies like Drive Modes and CCD delivers the agility and responsiveness of a hot hatchback, with the refined ride of a large executive car,’ claims Helmut Reder, Focus vehicle line director.

Interior of the new Ford Focus

It bodes well to keep the Ford Focus's traditional handling creds intact...

The UK prices in full

Below you'll find the starting price for each line in the UK, for both petrol and disel models in 5dr and estate variants. 

  Bodystyle Engine Fuel Transmission OTR UK price (£)
Style 5door 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 85PS Petrol 6-speed 17,930.00
  5door 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 95PS Diesel 6-speed 19,270.00
  Estate 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 85PS Petrol 6-speed 19,050.00
  Estate 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 95PS Diesel 6-speed 20,350.00
           
Zetec 5door 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 100PS Petrol 6-speed 19,300.00
  5door 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 95PS Diesel 6-speed 20,270.00
  Estate 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 100PS Petrol 6-speed 20,380.00
  Estate 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 95PS Diesel 6-speed 21,350.00
           
ST-Line 5door 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 21,570.00
  5door 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 22,500.00
  Estate 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 22,650.00
  Estate 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 23,620.00
           
ST-Line X 5door 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 24,050.00
  5door 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 25,000.00
  Estate 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 25,150.00
  Estate 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 26,120.00

You can find the UK starting prices for the more luxurious models below, too:

  Bodystyle Engine Fuel Transmission OTR UK price (£)
Titanium 5door 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 21,550.00
  5door 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 22,520.00
  Estate 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 22,630.00
  Estate 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 23,600.00
           
Titanium X 5door 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 22,820.00
  5door 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 23,750.00
  Estate 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 23,900.00
  Estate 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 24,870.00
           
Vignale 5door 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 25,450.00
  5door 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 26,400.00
  Estate 1.0L Ford EcoBoost 125PS Petrol 6-speed 26,550.00
  Estate 1.5L Ford EcoBlue 120PS Diesel 6-speed 27,520.00

A trio of brand new engines

Three-quarters of the Focus’s engines – all-aluminium 1.5-litre petrol, 1.5- and 2.0-litre diesels – are box-fresh, with the fourth – the 1.0-litre petrol – significantly upgraded. Here are the key performance figures and specs for a five-door hatch with the lower displacement engines available at launch, riding on 16-inch wheels.

Displacement Power/torque CO2 MPG 0-62mph
1.0 petrol 85PS 84bhp/125lb ft 110g/km 58.9 13.5secs
1.0 petrol 100PS 99bhp/125lb ft 107g/km 60.1 12.1secs
1.0 petrol 125PS 123bhp/125lb ft 108g/km 58.9 10.0secs
1.5 diesel 95PS 94bhp/221lb ft 91g/km 80.7 11.4secs
1.5 diesel 120PS 118bhp/221lb ft 94g/km 78.5 10.0secs

Both petrol engines are turbocharged three-cylinder units, featuring cylinder deactivation to save fuel and exhaust filters to trap sooty particulate matter. The 1.0-litre engine, set to be the best-seller, gets a new cylinder head, higher-pressure injection and a catalyser that heats up rapidly to minimise emissions. 

The diesel engines adopt a four-cylinder configuration, with high-pressure common-rail injection to reduce noise and carefully meter out fuel. Exhaust gas recirculation helps clean up tailpipe emissions, and the 2.0-litre also deploys AdBlue urea injection to combat nitrogen oxides. This engine also features Ford’s first steel piston in a diesel, which is smaller and expands less when hot, to offset efficiency-sapping friction.

The Focus’s economy and CO2 figures were recorded using the new WLTP testing procedure, and converted back to the old NEDC system to enable like-for-like comparison. Ford says the new model is up to 12 per cent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, with the maximum saving coming from a car equipped with the eight-speed torque converter automatic (roughly a £1400 option). 

What is WLTP? We explain the new fuel economy regs

What about an RS?

There’s no dual-clutch ‘box this time around; the other transmission is a six-speed manual. All these cooking Focus models are front-wheel drive: there’s no propshaft tunnel between the rear seats, to reduce floorpan intrusion for anyone occupying the central perch.

Does that mean no all-wheel drive possibility for a fourth-generation Focus RS? The outgoing hyper-hatch turns the back wheels thanks to a rear-drive unit from GKN; the same supplier is developing eTwinsterX, a compact electric rear axle for introduction in the early 2020s. It has two gears to allow a broader operating window for the motor, and torque vectoring across the axle. So if Ford teams up with GKN once more, the next Focus RS could have a hybrid drivetrain.

The new 2018 Ford Focus is five-door only; no 3dr this time

Fuel economy also gets a boost from the new Focus’s slippery shape. Aerodynamic measures include an active front grille shutter for when engine cooling isn’t required, front bumper vents channeling air through the body to smooth turbulence around the front wheels, and a number of underbody shields to calm airflow beneath the car. The five-door hatch has a 0.273 coefficient of drag – ‘best-in-class by a big margin,’ claims Helmut Reder. Ford and Michelin have also teamed up to introduce a new line of tyres that slashes rolling resistance by a fifth. 

Sophisticated auto-cruising

The outgoing Focus introduced a suite of driver assistance systems: lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, a driver alert system and low-speed collision avoidance. But the new Focus, to coin Ford’s marketing schtick, goes further.

‘The Focus is Ford’s most advanced car in Europe,’ says Glen Goold, the chief programme engineer. ‘It has front and side radars, front and rear cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors, with the objective being to extend the interaction between these and link new elements to give additional functions.’

One appealing breakthrough is that the traffic sign recognition has been coupled with the active cruise control, so the new Focus is capable of Level 2 autonomy. That means it can drive itself in stop/start traffic on a smart motorway, accelerating up to the variable speed limit (or 124mph if you’re on an autobahn), and keeping itself centred in lane. But the system, contained in the £500 Driver Assistance Pack, is only intended as an aid, so drivers have to keep their hands on the steering wheel. 

The new Ford Focus gets a head-up display

Another upgrade enables the low-speed collision system to spot cyclists, as well as pedestrians and other traffic: it’s standard equipment, as is lane-keeping assistance. The Focus is also capable of deploying Evasive Steering Assist, which adds or subtracts torque from the driver’s steering input to make sure the car misses an upcoming obstacle.

Clever adaptive headlamps are also available as an option on the top two trims. Linked to the forward camera, the lamps peer up to 65m ahead, adjusting according to the curve of the road markings to better illuminate corners and junctions. The system also includes automatic high-beam adjustment, in a bid to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. The active lamps cost £1050 on an ST-Line X, or £425 on the Vignale. This is the only trim level with a standard Head-Up Display, Ford’s first in Europe; otherwise it’s a £425 option on ST-Line X or Titanium X.

Ford is playing catch-up on connectivity, but the Focus has an embedded modem and standard FordPass Connect on the four upper trims. The enables two years of live traffic info, and turns the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot which works 10m away with the engine off and can tether up to 10 devices. Owners can also use the FordPass app to remotely check the car’s location, check the fuel level and whether it’s locked, and warm up or cool the cabin remotely.   

ST-Line to Active faux-by-four

With its range of bodystyles, bodykits and suspensions, Ford reckons there’s a Focus for every type of customer. The most appealing for car enthusiasts will be the ST-Line (below, priced from £21,570) and ST-Line X (from £24,050). ST-Line incorporates a sports suspension, which drops the body by 10mm over 17-inch alloy wheels.

There’s a rear spoiler and twin tailpipes, while the cabin features sporty touches such as a flat bottomed steering wheel and alloy pedals. Upgrading to ST-Line X includes 18-inch rims, red brake callipers and red interior stitching, 8-inch touchscreen, navigation and FordPass Connect.

An Active addition

The opposite end of the spectrum is the Focus Active (below), which arrives in the UK around October 2018.

It’s raised 30mm and is peppered with crossover styling cues including roof bars and plastic body protection, plus a black roof and black mirror caps. Highlights inside include textile seats and rubberised trim, such as knee protectors on the central tunnel. 

The Focus Estate – which costs around £1100 more than the standard five-door – manages to preserve the hatch’s handsome lines but still deliver decent load-lugging capability. It gets a bespoke SLA rear suspension, with the dampers repositioned to minimise cargo area intrusion: Ford claims its 1.15m-wide bay is best-in-class.

Drop the rear seats and the Focus can swallow 1650 litres of gear, thanks also to an extended rear overhang that creates a maximum load length of 1.7m. And the tonneau cover can be removed in a one-handed operation, and stowed in a recess beneath the boot floor.

The final model is the flagship Vignale. It follows the template for Ford’s luxury edition Mondeo, S-Max et al, with a bespoke grille, lashings of satin-finish brightwork, wood grain inside and leather upholstery. It also gets the electronic kitchen sink thrown at it, as you’d expect of a £25,450 Focus.

The CAR verdict: read our full review here

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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