Used car buyer's guide: Ford Focus
BY 2008 there weren't too many more common sights on our roads than a Ford Focus. The Blue Oval had sold 1.1 million of its first- and second-generation models to British punters and bagged 80 plus international awards.
That's good going but Ford wanted more from its sharp-handling family hatchback. A series of tweaks was made to keep it fresh and it's the resulting facelifted Focuses we're evaluating here.
Most notably, Ford introduced the Kenetic design themes that had gone down a storm right across their model range from Mondeo to Focus. The key element of this was the twin trapezoidal grilles that dominated the front end but swept-back headlamps and flared wheelarches also formed an integral part of the look.
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There were also changes inside where the Focus had started to feel tangibly less plush than some of its rivals. Soft-touch plastics, higher grade fabrics and redesigned controls were introduced.
Three- and five-door hatchbacks were available, along with a saloon and an estate but the Focus family also extended to the Coupe-Cabriolet convertible model and the C-MAX compact MPV. The engine line-up remained unchanged: 1.4-, 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre normally-aspirated petrol engines, along with the 2.5-litre turbo petrol from the ST and TDCi diesel units of 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre capacities. The 1.6 TDCi engine powered the super-efficient EConetic models, which gained stop/start technology and sub-100g/km CO2 emissions at the end of 2009. Just before this, Ford also introduced the impressive Powershift dual clutch automatic gearbox.
The sporty Zetec S trim level was added to the range late in 2008 and the significantly sportier second-generation Focus RS turned up early in 2009 with no fewer than 300 braked horses. The RS500 model was launched in 2010, offering a limited run 345bhp version of the RS for a whopping £35,000.
WHAT YOU GET
This facelifted MK2 Focus took its inspiration from its larger Mondeo stablemate. Trapezoidal grilles, swept back headlamps, bolder wheel arches, reshaped rear glass, a contoured tailgate and smarter tail lamps are the key changes. Higher trim grades benefit from chrome detailing and a stylish, body-coloured upper rear spoiler.
Inside, plusher seat fabrics plus a variety of more attractive fascia finishes were introduced. The instrumentation was redesigned too and, along with other interior controls, is illuminated in red. Controls for the upgraded audio equipment and two-zone air conditioning were ergonomically improved.
The advanced compact control-blade rear suspension on the Focus helps the five-door hatch model achieve a sizable 385-litre carrying capacity, as the load bay is completely flat and unencumbered by suspension intrusion. In the Estate version, there's 475 litres of load space with the 60/40 rear bench in place, but drop the seats and there's a cavernous 1,525 litres. With the seats in place, the load bay is just over 104cm long, 116cm wide and up to 89cm high. With the rear seats folded you have a 167cm long distance from seat back to tailgate.
Equipment runs to most of what you would expect (twin front airbags, air conditioning, ABS etc) but there are some nice extra touches. In addition to a movable armrest and a four-litre storage compartment, there are storage areas for back-seat passengers. Plus items such as a 230 volt socket or the USB audio connection box were available with some trim levels.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Ford's engines are, on the whole, reliable, so give the car the usual once-over looking for signs of wear and indications of hard fleet, company or rental car use. The 1.4-litre engine is a little underpowered for such a substantial car, so avoid high mileage ex-fleeters with this powerplant.
Check that all the electrical items work, ensure the air conditioner delivers chilled air soon after the engine is started and remember that a full service history always helps when selling on. If you're looking at the ST model, make sure the tyres still have some tread on them, and that the car hasn't been thrashed or crashed.
ON THE ROAD
If driving dynamics are all you care about, this is still the very first car with which you should begin your search for a used family hatchback. The everyday mundanity of the Focus often obscures quite what an incredible car it is.
It's difficult to go too far wrong with a used Ford Focus, particularly a post-2008 facelift model. Its practicality and interior quality are a match for any rival but the real benefit comes in the way it drives. The engines might be down on power but the amount of enjoyment it's possible to extract from the chassis puts the Ford in a class of its own.