Ford South Africa introduced the facelifted Focus to market earlier in the year, ushering in a host of improvements, both inside and out. Being a global best-seller, the Focus is an important model for the Ford brand and although it sells well in South Africa, it should do better. The Focus plays in a competitive space and Ford has put its best foot forward in an effort to up the stakes against the likes of the popular Volkswagen Golf. Does the revised Ford Focus have what it takes to win the hearts, minds and confidence of the South African public?
The unit on test here is the Ford Focus 1.5T Trend in Frozen White.
What’s New?The most significant change is the introduction of the 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre EcoBoost engines to the Focus range. These engines should be well received in South Africa judging by the uptake in Europe.
Now sitting lower and wider than before, the new Focus has also received some beauty treatment in the form of a new bonnet, front fascia and grille as well a slimmer rear end and thinner tail lights. Ford’s magic wand has been waved on the inside too in an attempt to improve cabin quality and a number of under-the skin changes have been made to improve drive and handling too. From the outside then, the Focus actually looks pretty good, but let’s step inside.
Interior AnticsThe interior of the Focus is mostly fitted with dark plastic surfaces, some of which are of very good quality, but there's a definite lack of consistency when it comes to the grade of plastics used. We also noticed a large panel gap between the door and B-pillar which is disappointing for a car in this segment. The large soft-touch dashboard houses the infotainment system which is accessed via a 4.2-inch screen. The system is relatively easy to use, but does require a fair amount of button-pushing to get used to the functionality. We liked the adjustable center storage console which offers more space for smaller goodies and it does a good job of holding bottles firmly in place.
The fabric seats are comfortable and both the driver and passenger seat is height adjustable. The multifunction steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable and features audio, Bluetooth and cruise control buttons. The Focus is also equipped with not one, but two USB ports and an Auxiliary port, which is great.
In terms of dimensions, the Focus is larger than its competitors, affording it generous interior space and average size rear passengers should be happy with the leg and headroom available. The 316-litre boot offers decent space which can be expanded even further by folding the 60/40 split rear bench completely flat. Other niceties include electric windows all-round as well as vanity mirrors with lighting for the driver and passenger.
Drive TimeThe Focus on test here comes fitted with Ford’s new 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol engine that produces an admirable 132 kW and 240 Nm of torque. Those figures outshine the competition by a healthy margin and are put to tar using a 6-speed manual transmission. We found changing gears to be quite pleasant as the lever requires minimal effort for shifting, which is always pleasing. There’s no wrestling the gear lever in this Focus.
You’ll also be happy to know that the Ford Focus performs very well out on the road and delivers its power with grace and composure. What we liked about the Focus is its driving flexibility. It’s an excellent car to drive conservatively in the city, but it also has the ability to perform when required. The engine has some gusto and in-gear acceleration is excellent which makes overtaking easy and somewhat fun.
In terms of ride and handling, Ford has done an excellent job. Thanks to revised steering, suspension and a stiffer chassis, the Focus soaks up bumps and imperfections easily, delivering a pleasantly smooth ride. The Focus feels solid and planted to the road even when you press on and it handles corners with precision and poise. The Focus inspires confidence and is a capable and fun car to drive on a daily basis.
In terms of fuel economy, Ford claims 5.5L/100km on the combined cycle and we managed to achieve 8.1-litres during the test period. With stop/start technology and a mindful driving style, figures between 7 and 7.5L/100km are certainly do-able.
On the safety front, the Focus is right up there with its competitors and offers a host of safety features including six airbags, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, traction control and electronic stability control. Additional driver assistance systems are offered as an option and these include Perpendicular Parking, Active Park Assist, Cross Traffic Alert, Park-Out Assist, Active City Stop, Lane Departure Warning as well as front and rear sensors with a rear view camera.
Ford Focus Price in South AfricaThis Ford Focus 1.5T Trend hatchback is priced at R271 900. Buyers can also opt for the smaller capacity 1.0T derivative with pricing starting from R217 900. The price includes a 4-year/120 000km warranty and a 4-year/80 000km service plan.
VerdictThe Ford Focus is a solid offering that delivers a decent dose of spec for the price while also offering excellent drive and handling. More than this, the new 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine is a star performer. Apart from an interior that’s lacking in pizzazz when compared to its competitors, you simply can’t go wrong with the latest Focus, it really is that good.
Team OpinionThe 132kW turbo engine is the real star of the show. It's a respectable output which gives the Ford Focus some excellent performance credentials, without forgetting the eco benefits. The ride is excellent and few cars in this class soak up the bumps as well as this Focus. However there are a couple of build quality issues in the interior such as panel gaps and poor quality plastics, but overall the Ford Focus is a good car. -David Taylor
At the price, this Focus makes a very convincing argument. Yes, the interior fit and finish is not quite up to scratch, and certainly not as good as in a Golf... or an Auris, but then the Focus is so much cheaper. The new engine is excellent and it rides beautifully. - Hannes Oosthuizen
We Like: Engine Performance, excellent drive and handling, good safety features
We Don’t Like: Some interior quality issues
Also Consider: Volkswagen Golf, Renault Megane GT Line, Hyundai i30