Read Caroline’s Ford Focus review for everything you need to know about buying Ford’s popular hatchback in Ireland.

It’s 25 years since the Ford Focus first went on sale. Back in 1998, it was a huge hit for the brand with its New Edge styling and class-leading driving dynamics. It’s always been a big seller, rivalling the mighty Volkswagen Golf and sitting for many years among the bestselling cars in Ireland.

But with the rise of crossovers and SUVs, these days Ford sells more Kugas and Pumas. Just like the Golf, sales of the Focus have taken a hit in recent years.

Ford hasn’t given up on the Focus just yet and the latest version smartens up the styling and updates the cabin technology. And did I mention the Ford Focus is one of the best-handling hatchbacks you can buy?

The Ford Focus on test for Changing Lanes!
The Ford Focus on test for Changing Lanes!

What’s new for the Ford Focus?

This fourth generation Focus launched in Ireland in 2018 and it’s aged well. For the latest update, the Focus gets a bit more than the average motor industry facelift. The blue oval badge has moved from the bonnet down to the centre of the redesigned grille. The headlights are new with LED technology that comes standard across the range. There’s also a new bonnet that is a bit higher than before. The rear lights also have a new loop-like LED lighting signature. Overall, it’s a positive revamp for the Focus.

With pricing kicking off from €32,541, the Focus is competitively priced against competitors like the Toyota Corolla and the Opel Astra. The range starts with the Titanium that comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, climate control, keyless entry/start, heated windscreen, parking camera, and cruise control. Go up to Titanium X, and wheels are upgraded to 17-inch along with more creature comforts like wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats and heated steering wheel.

There is also the crossover-inspired Focus Active and Active X with more rugged styling and a slightly raised ride height. But it’s fair to say that ST Line and ST Line X models look the best overall with a special honeycomb grille finish, side skirts, roof spoiler, diffuser-effect in the rear bumper, and 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inch on ST Line X with red brake calipers).

The Focus is available with petrol and diesel engines
The Focus is available with petrol and diesel engines

Inside the Focus

There are more changes for the Focus inside with a glossy new 13-inch touchscreen taking centre stage. It’s one of the biggest in the segment now and adds much needed modernity to the cabin. It uses Ford’s Sync 4 operating system, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included and improved voice control.

It’s easy to use and switch through menus but Ford has moved the controls for the ventilation to the screen also. It’s a bit fiddly to use.

There’s also a new digital instrument cluster. It’s not standard unfortunately but it is worth upgrading for. The quality of the cabin is about the same as rivals though it’s not the plushest cabin finish or the most stylish, with lots of black plastic on show. Still, ST Line models add some different seat fabrics and sportier red stitching detail.

The Ford Focus offers a 375 litre boot, which is on par with rivals like the Golf and Corolla, though doesn’t quite match the Astra’s 422 litres. Where the Focus scores very well is in rear passenger space. Legroom is very generous and it feels more open and roomier than a lot of rival hatchbacks.

The cabin of the new Focus
The cabin of the new Focus

Driving the Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is offered with petrol and diesel engines, as well as manual and automatic gearboxes. There’s mild hybrid technology available for the petrol automatic but no full hybrid or plug-in hybrid at this time. In truth that probably doesn’t matter a great deal for most buyers because the 1.0-litre petrol is well-priced and offers competitive power (125hp) and efficiency (5.9 litres per 100 kilometres during my test drive).

It’s also a delight to drive with good refinement and noise suppression from the 1.0-litre three cylinder engine. There’s no thrashing through the gears, just an ample smooth delivery of power.

The only option for the power hungry these days is the 280hp Ford Focus ST.

Other options include a 1.0-litre petrol mild hybrid automatic with 125hp or a 1.5-litre diesel automatic with 115hp.

On the road, the Focus is one of the best handling hatchbacks you can buy with great composure through bends and nicely weighted steering. Drive modes come as standard – Normal, Sport and Eco – which adjust the steering and throttle response. The balance between sporty handling and comfort is just right too, though ST Line models are a little firmer because of the sports suspension. There’s also road and wind noise at high speeds on the motorway.

The updated Ford Focus ST
The updated Ford Focus ST

Did you like it?

The Ford Focus has a lot going for it and is a great choice of hatchback. Thanks to this latest update, the Focus is better-looking than before and the technology update lifts the cabin too.

There’s a great choice of trim levels, which add some unique style to the Focus. The engine range seems quite narrow on paper but in reality the Focus 1.0-litre is still a great engine for this car offering a competitive package overall of power, efficiency and refinement.

Sensible, practical and fun to drive – there are lots of reasons to check out the Ford Focus!

Model tested: Ford Focus ST Line 1.0 
Price: From 
1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 125hp
Torque: 170Nm
Top speed: 197 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 10.5 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€200 per year


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year