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FOCUS GETS A BOOST (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Much is expected from this fourth generation Ford Focus. Designed from a clean sheet of paper, it looks set to give its rivals plenty to think about. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 98
The fourth generation Ford Focus puts its maker right back into contention in the family hatchback segment, with smarter looks, much improved interior quality and extra technology. There's also what Ford claims to be class-leading levels of safety. And greater efficiency beneath the bonnet from a completely rejuvenated range of engines, including the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit we look at here, which gains efficient cylinder deactivation technology. The best part though, is that this car still remains as rewarding to drive as it's always been. The Focus might have grown up but it certainly hasn't lost its spark.
Backgroundword count: 137
This fourth generation Focus is about the same size as before and though this lighter, stronger bodywork may not look too different, it clothes an all-new C2 platform that enables a longer wheelbase that for the first time allows this car to offer properly class-competitive rear seat room and luggage space. Much has changed beneath the bonnet too, with clever cylinder deactivation for petrol models like the 1.0 EcoBoost variants. Also new is the much higher quality cabin which features half the number of previous buttons. On top of all that, the brand claims class-leading camera-driven safety standards too. This car does, in short, promise the kind of significant step forward that'll be absolutely necessary if Ford is to retain its place amongst the sales leaders in this segment. Time to put this car to the test.
Driving Experienceword count: 319
This fourth generation Focus, like its predecessors, has a reputation as a family hatchback with the ability to entertain at the wheel - and if you enjoy your driving, that's something you'll appreciate pretty early on the first time you try one. Twenty years ago, the original version of this model achieved much the same thing by standardising advanced multi-link rear suspension across its model line-up. Today, you only get that on the most powerful 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol and 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel variants. If, on the other hand, you go for the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine we tried - as the majority of buyers will - then the damping's a little different. These volume models come with a much less sophisticated torsion beam arrangement, though Ford has embellished it with the clever 'force vectoring' rear axle springs that it first developed for its Fiesta ST hot hatch. As a result, the ride isn't overly firm, but body control through the bends is still exemplary, allowing you at the wheel to make the most of the stiff new C2 platform, the feelsome power steering and the torque vectoring control system that helps you get the power down through the bends. It all combines to create a car that really can still reward at the wheel, even in its most affordable forms: there's still nothing else in this segment that feels quite the same. Yet it still does the sensible stuff well too, being decently refined, with confident braking and a lovely tactile gearshift. Most tend to go for the 1.0-litre unit we tested, offered with either 85, 100 or 125PS and also available with the option of mHEV mild hybrid tech. All variants get a driving modes system which offers three settings - 'Eco', 'Normal' and 'Sport'. The quickest 125PS 1.0-litre powerplant can be ordered with the option of Ford's latest 8-speed auto gearbox, which adapts to your driving style.
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Category: Compact Family Cars
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