Focused on Driving

The fourth generation of the Ford Focus was released in late 2018 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this cute little hatch and it’s brimming with tech and has curves and creases in all the right places.

The Focus model line-up includes the hatch I spent a week with, plus a wagon and an active version. Every model comes with the 3-cylinder 1.5L EcoBoost petrol engine that produces 134kW @ 6,000rpm and 240Nm @ 1,750-5,000rpm. The official combined fuel consumption is 6.4L/100km, but I only achieved 11.7L/100km, which included mainly short runs and no highway driving.

The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox that is controlled via a Jaguar-esque rotary gear selector. ‘Manual’ shifting is available using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, but even in manual mode the gearbox was not as obedient as I would have liked when I was pulling down through the gears under braking. I had to wait for the engine revs to match the level that the car wanted before the next gear could be selected.

But this didn’t mean that driving the Focus ST-Line wasn’t a whole lot of fun to punt along some of my favourite twisty driving roads. In fact it actually felt like I was driving two different cars, on the twisty stuff the engine felt more powerful than it actually was. Unfortunately once I hit the straights and put my foot down it soon ran out of breath.

There are three drive modes to choose from in the Focus; Normal, Eco and Sport and of course I spent all of my time in Sport, because this is a warm hatch and so should be driven with some vigour. The suspension is not adaptable, but strikes a nice balance between sporty and comfort meaning the everyday ride quality is very easy to live with.

The sporty feel is evident in the cabin with a chunky steering wheel that was lovely to hold.  The front seats have four way manual adjustments including lumbar support and although they were only cloth covered they did have an appealing texture and red stitching.

Standard tech includes keyless entry on all four doors, wireless phone charging for compatible devices, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and dual climate control. There were a couple of interior features I really liked including the slot just in front of the centre arm rest where you can store your ticket from the parking station, so no more fumbling for it when you get to the boom gate. Plus coffee lovers will really appreciate the third cup holder in the centre console between the two larger cup holders; it’s the perfect size for a takeaway espresso cup.

Although the Focus ST-Line is a sub-$30k car it does not smell or feel like a cheap car inside the cabin. The plastics are soft to touch and the faux carbon fibre inlays were so good that I thought they were real. One thing I did notice though was there was no light for the vanity mirror.

I liked how the 8” touchscreen was integrated into the overall dash design. From here you access to the satellite navigation with traffic message channel plus your audio selections; either Bluetooth, AM/FM or DAB. In the cubby at the front of the centre console is your wireless phone charging, one USB port and one 12V outlet. Under the arm rest is another USB port and reasonable sized storage cubby.

The driver’s dash display has a configurable screen in the centre where you can select from a digital speedo, fuel economy data, trip computer and audio info, an eco-coach or a ‘calm screen’ (which is just a blank screen). This display area also gives you an indication of the speed zone you are in, but this does not use speed sign recognition and relies on pre-loaded data. This isn’t a super smart system and although it does recognise school zones it does not allow for the time of day that they operate and flashes 40km/h whenever you drive through them.

Where you do notice the price point of the Focus is in the rear seats. There is no fold down centre arm rest between the two rear seats, only a 12V outlet and no rear air vents. The lack of a central drink bottle holder was a problem for my daughter as her drink bottle was too big to fit in the door drink holder pocket. There were also no mats on the floor in the rear, so the carpet would wear in the long term.

On the upside there is enough room in the rear seats for two adults and is has two ISOFIX/three rear tether points for child seats. The seats are 60/40 split folding to give you a space for transporting larger items, but the boot is a reasonable size and would fit the weekly shop and a pram and underneath is a space saver spare tyre.

My Focus ST-Line only had standard cruise control, but adaptive cruise control is available as an optional extra. I did have pre-collision warning and if you do not react to the warning the Focus has Autonomous Emergency Braking, something that is reassuring to know. I also had lane departure warning and lane keep assist to help keep me on the straight and narrow.

Other safety features that come standard on the Focus include six airbags – Driver and Front Passenger, Front Side Impact and Front and Rear Side Curtain. Plus a rear view camera with 180o split view and rear parking sensors. This now means that the entire Focus model line-up from December 2018 onwards has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

The Focus comes with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and Focus Service meaning the most you will pay is $299 per standard A or B scheduled service until the vehicle reaches the earlier of 4 years or 60,000km. Standard A or B scheduled services do not include ‘Additional Scheduled Maintenance Items’ that are required, such as brake fluid replacement, tyre rotations and air conditioner check. These items will be at an additional cost when needed. You may also want to ask your Ford dealer if you are eligible for the Roadside Assistance for up to seven year/unlimited kilometres.

As tested my Ford Focus ST-Line was $29,640 plus on-road costs and considering the quality of the interior, the safety features that come standard and the looks of this hatchback that is pretty good value in my opinion. Visit your preferred Ford dealer for more information on this highly impressive warm hatch.

Pros Cons
Great looking hatchback No rear air vents
Quality interior finishes Gearbox not obedient
Fun to drive on twisty roads Lacks the legs on the straights

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.