The best-selling Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback is back, and it’s as entertaining, comfortable and quiet as ever. The problem is that, as the years have passed, it’s also built up a reputation for having a bit of a dull image.
Still, it’s all about priorities. And while the Focus isn’t what you’d call sexy, it’s still the best car to drive in this class. Moreover, it’s stuffed with new tech and remains one of the most popular family cars on the planet.
Ford has a long history in car manufacturing. Read more about it in our summary here.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback review.
Overview of the Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback
On the Road
On the road is where the Focus truly excels. Sharp handling is the order of the day (even if it isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be), and there’s no car that’s better to drive in this market. It feels alive in bends, its controls are nice and responsive, and its gearboxes are smooth and positive.
And despite it not being as sharp as it used to be, a 2014 reboot saw Ford tweak its suspension and steering so that it’s now more agile in bends.
On the motorway, the Focus feels settled and its suspension setup does a good job of ironing out most lumps and bumps. That said, coarser roads will present a bit more of a problem.
But it’s really out on the open road where you’ll have the most fun. There’s plenty of communication from the steering wheel, and you’re always aware of what’s going on.
In terms of its engines, a 1.5-litre diesel is brand new. It replaces the old 1.6-litre TDCi unit and is available with either 94 or 118bhp – which means there’s been a decrease in power.
Don’t let that alarm you, however, because both variants have more than enough low-end torque to make up for it. They certainly feel strong enough.
However, should you want more power you can turn your attention to a 2.0-litre TDCi diesel that’s also available in two separate guises. The smaller of the two produces 148bhp and can get you from a standstill to 62mph in 8.8 seconds.
Go for the even bigger 182bhp ST diesel variant, and you’ll be treated to 400Nm of torque and a 0-62 time of 8.1 seconds. We think the 148bhp will have all the power you need, though.
Is Ford reliable? Read our unbiased and honest assessment of the manufacturer here.
Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback Interior, Design and Build
The new car is kitted out with padded seats, which boosts comfort. The driver’s seat and wheel are plenty adjustable, which helps the driver to find the perfect position, while heated leather seats are standard in the highest-spec models.
Buyers will appreciate the build quality on display here, but what’s less impressive is the grey colour scheme. It’s dominant, with just a bit of silver trim breaking things up, and it creates a sombre atmosphere.
There are soft-touch plastics here and there, but they contrast awkwardly with harder plastics.
Is the Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback practical? The car does okay on this front. Visibility is good, with Ford using thin window pillars upfront. The pillars at the back are thicker, but they don’t infringe on your visibility too much.
The car is easy to park, though you’ll need to splash out on the Titanium trim to get parking aids.
There is an elephant in the room: The 316-litre boot. That’s hardly bigger than the Fiesta’s boot and way off the best in this class. On the other hand, it’s a useable boot that comes with a flat floor and a wide opening.
There’s plenty of room for those sitting up front, but legroom is lacking for those in the rear. Storage solutions are good, and include a large glovebox, while a 12v power socket will prove useful.
All in all, though, if you want a practical Ford Focus, you’d be better off looking at the Estate version.
Equipment and Safety of the Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback
Provided you overlook the entry-level Style model, standard kit is good. The Style model comes with electric front windows and mirrors, air conditioning – but not a lot else.
The Zetec is much better equipped and comes with lots of technology. This includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, the brand’s most up-to-date SYNC3 infotainment system and their QuickClear heated front windscreen. It also gets alloys.
The Titanium model adds cruise control, Active City Stop, rear parking sensors and automatic headlights and wipers, while the Titanium X trim nets you part-leather heated seats, ambient interior lighting, power-folding mirrors and xenon headlights.
Safety-wise, the Focus was awarded all five stars by Euro NCAP for its crash test performance. Standard safety kit includes a driver tiredness monitor, lane departure warning, and side and curtain airbags, but if you want as much advanced safety kit as possible, you’ll need to go for the Titanium models.
Costs of the Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback
Prices for the new car start out from £17,705. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 1.5-litre EcoNetic 108bhp diesel is the cheapest to run. It can return a very impressive 83.1mpg at best and emits just 88g/km of CO2 which gives it a BiK rating of 18%.
The bigger 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel, meanwhile, is good for 70.6mpg on a good day and emits 105g/km.
Insurance-wise, if you stick to the smaller models your Focus will sit in group 6 out of 50, which is reasonable. This low grouping is made possible by the addition of the automatic city braking system. That said, most models occupy groups 11 to 16, although the ST Line sits in group 22.
Pros and Cons of the Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback
Fun to drive
After all this time, the Focus is still the best handling car in its sector.
Everything about it is price-friendly, from its listing price to its running costs to insurance.
Well kitted out
The entry level is sparse but beyond that, the Focus is well equipped.
Its dull looks can’t match its exciting driving experience.
It’s only marginally bigger than the Ford Fiesta.
Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback vs Renault Megane vs Peugeot 308
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback review.
The new Renault Megane sports a brand new look for 2018. It also comes complete with a brand new infotainment system and is a solid choice for families.
While the Megane certainly looks more exciting than the Focus, the Ford is more exciting to drive. Light steering ensures that the car is easy to drive in the towns and cities, but a real lack of feel means you won’t feel as confident on open roads.
Moreover, while the Iconic and GT Lines come with a useful MultiSense system that alters how the Megane responds, the lower spec models miss out on it.
That said, even the sportier GT Line isn’t as much fun as the Focus.
In terms of its engines, just the one diesel is available at the moment. This is a 1.5-litre unit that’s available in three separate guises. A 108bhp is the smallest variant, a 128bhp is the mid-range variant and a 165bhp variant offers the most power. They’re all punchy enough, but the 128bhp is our top pick.
Running costs? The 1.5-litre 108bhp diesel, when paired up with a 6-speed manual ‘box, is the cheapest to run. It can return 76.4mpg and emits less than 100g/km of CO2. Specifying the EDC automatic ‘box instead knocks its fuel economy down ever so slightly, while its emissions remain sub100g/km.
Inside, the Meganes interior impresses with a good fit and finish, more high-quality materials than last time, and a fair amount of attractive seat fabrics. Indeed, in terms of out-and-out quality, the Renault is on par with the likes of Volkswagen and Audi models in this class.
It’s smooth and quiet on the move, too, while opting for the GT Line model nets you a striking 8.7” portrait-oriented infotainment screen.
Is the Renault Megane practical? Its 384-litre boot is significantly bigger than the Ford Focus, and you can extend it to 1,248-litres by folding down the rear seats. However, a high boot lip will frustrate.
Other than that, there are lots of storage solutions dotted around the cabin, while head and legroom is good up front and in the rear.
Ford – £17,705
Renault – £17,790 – £23,390
Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback vs Peugeot 308
The new Peugeot 308 is comfortable, doesn’t cost a lot to run – and crucially has a bigger boot than the Ford.
It’s engaging to drive too, but the Focus has it beaten in terms of pure enjoyment, with Peugeot putting the focus very much on comfort first and foremost. As such, its suspension setup is nice and supple and body control is very good.
Its steering doesn’t feel too settled out on the motorway, and its gearbox isn’t as accurate as we’d like, but the 308 is right at home in the towns and cities.
In terms of its engines, the 1.6-litre 120 diesel catches the eye with its extraordinary fuel economy figure of 90mpg. Despite such low running costs, it can cover the 0-62 dash in a matter of 10.3 seconds.
The thing is that it’s soon to be replaced by a smaller 1.5-litre BlueHDi 130 diesel. It’s more refined, more flexible and has a decent amount of mid-range punch.
The 2.0-litre diesel will impress you with its pace and performance, and it can cover the 0-62 sprint in 8.9 seconds. Rounding off the diesel range is a 308 GT model that has a 0-62 time of 8.4 seconds. It’s the sportiest model in the range but it can’t match the handling prowess of the Focus ST.
Running costs? The 1.5-litre that replaces the incredibly frugal 1.6-litre diesel isn’t quite as cheap to run, but returns of 84mpg are still good. It also emits just 82g/km of CO2.
The 2.0-litre diesel, meanwhile, returns 69.9mpg at best and emits just over 100g/km.
Inside, the new 308 looks and feels better than last time. A large central touchscreen is missing from the entry level model but dominates all the others, but it is a tad clunky to use.
However, it reduces button clutter – something which is an issue with the basic model.
Harder plastics let the side down somewhat, with only the GT model getting aluminium and leather trim, but a height adjustable driver’s seat and adjustable steering wheel mean it’s easy for the driver to get comfortable.
Is the Peugeot 308 practical? All models are five-doors, and this boosts rear access. Its 470-litre boot dwarves the Ford, as well as most of it rivals. It’s huge and comes with a pair of underfloor storage areas. However, the rear seats can’t be folded totally flat and its load lip is rather tall. So it’s not perfect.
Other than that, rear seat space is okay, and the 308 would have benefited from more storage solutions.
Verdict of our 2018 Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback
The Focus has been selling more than any other Hatchback on the shores for quite some time – and it’s arguably better than ever. A name that families can trust, it’s just almost as sharp on the road as it’s always been, and now boasts a higher quality cabin.
There are drawbacks, of course, and the Focus isn’t the most practical car in this class. But as far as cars you can depend on go, the Ford Focus Diesel Hatchback remains unrivalled.
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