Ford Focus (2012 - present): Review, Problems, Specs

The latest Ford Focus is a hugely talented and versatile machine. Even if it’s showing its age compared to fresher rivals (it was released in 2010), it’s still one of the top buys in the segment.

The kind of Focus you get depends heavily on how you spec it, although all models come as standard with the best steering in class (although the Mazda3 may be just bit better) and an incredibly well balanced chassis. Since its major revamp in 2014, the Focus also gained advanced traction and stability control systems which only made it better to drive.

It’s not the best built or the most flamboyant looking, though, and the interior does look a tad dated compared to rivals.

However, with excellent engine choices and as an all-round package, it’s hard to beat.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • all variants are fun to drive
  • highly-capable chassis
  • all engine choices are worthy

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • build quality not the best
  • dated cabin
  • SYNC2 infotainment
  • hatchback has poor rear headroom

Stay Away From
  • PowerShift automatic transmission
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • 2014 MY Focus US recall for fuel pump problem
  • 386 2014 MY Focus models and 2015 MY Lincoln MKC recalled to fix a problem that may lead to an engine stall without warning
  • 2,618 2012-2014 MY Ford Focus Electric cars recalled for power loss issue
  • some 6,300 2012-2013 MY Ford Focus Electric and ST models recalled to fix malfunctioning side markers
Car Details
Powertrain

One of the Focus’ strengths is its range of engines, where no unit is really undesirable. Even the base 100 hp 1.0-liter EcoBoost and five-speed gearbox combo is more than adequate to move the car around town, even if you can’t quite come close to the manufacturer claimed figures.

Your best bet when buying a Focus is either of the two 1.5-liter EcoBoost units (with either 150 or 180 hp). The 1.6- or 2.0-liter diesels are also good choices, but the gasoline engines are so good (and also fairly efficient) that it’s hard to ignore them.

Most engines come with positive-feeling six-speed gearboxes, and there’s the available PowerShift automatic, but the latter is not that good in any respect compared to the best in class.


Handling

As you’ve undoubtedly heard and heard again, the Focus is a fine handling machine. This has been a trait of each and every single incarnation of the nameplate, and even if electric steering and electronics have perhaps dulled the experience, it’s still at the very top of the class in this area.

It’s also one of the few run-of-the-mill hatchbacks whose line in a corner you can actually control using the throttle, with that extra bit of finesse.

Again, electric steering has robbed the Focus of some of the previous generations’ pinpoint sharpness, but even so it’s better than most rivals in the feel and precision departments.


Safety

The latest Focus comes fully featured with passive aids on all versions and active safety aids on higher trim levels. Ford boasts that the new Focus also has a very advanced stability and traction control system, one whose intervention feels natural and doesn’t jerk the car around.

Comfort

The Focus isn’t exceedingly comfortable on the road, as there is a definite firmness to the way it’s sprung. Don’t think of anything too drastic, but also don’t expect it to glide over bumps like the soft and squidgy French cars in its class do.


Quality

You won’t mistake the Focus for a premium car, and it’s clear that it wasn’t an issue when this car was being designed. However, as an honest interior that’s clearly designed and hewn out of pleasant materials, it’s excellent.

It does look a bit dated compared to rival designs, but it feels really pleasant to sit in.


Practicality

The Focus hatch doesn’t have a particularly big trunk (316 liters), but there is the option of a roomier estate available. That variant has a more space, at 476 liters, but it’s still not close to the top of its class.

It makes up some ground through its clever assortment of interior cubbies.


Infotainment

If you’ve had any prior experience with Ford’s SYNC infotainment, then you’ll know what to expect from the C-Max. Yes, it has all the functions you could need in a car (and more) and yes the layout is fairly intuitive.

However, its often laggy responses, occasional screen freezes and generally inconsistent operation make it seen more frustrating than useful.

Luckily, you can access most functions through physical buttons, as well, and Ford doesn’t force you to, say, adjust the climate settings using the touchscreen.

Efficiency

Ford offers the Focus with a wide selection of power plants that even includes an electric motor for the US market. If you want all-out efficiency, then the new 1.5-liter TDCI units are obviously best, although any of the EcoBoost gasoline units will offer a good blend of performance and economy; the most powerful 1.5-liter EcoBoost is almost hot hatch-quick but it won’t break the bank at the pumps.


Equipment

You can have your Focus specced in any number of ways, from very basic entry level guise, all the way to leather-clad and chrome-surrounded inside. The latest SYNC infotainment comes as standard, but you can expand the screen size if you pay extra.

There’s also an automatic gearbox option offered on some engine options, but with such pleasant-feeling manuals, its inherent efficiency penalty is hard to overlook.


Acquisition

The Focus is one of the most tempting buys in its class, if you above all prefer an engaging drive and a great chassis above all. That’s where the Focus shines, and this character is made more evident with ST and RS versions.

It’s not the latest word in design, either interior or exterior, but as a package and for the right person it’s really one of only two or three cars in its class actually worth buying.

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