Much improved 2004 Focus. Was the best all-round family hatchback on the road. Great to drive. comfortable and well laid-out interior. Wide range of engines. Low emission ECOnetic versions offer 55mpg +.
Other hatchbacks offer more bootspace and rear passenger room.
Latest Update Ford Focus 2008-2011: Apparently suffers stone damaged paintwork where the sills join the bottom edges of the front wings and this inevitably leads to surface rust.
10-1-2013: Petrol engined models seem to be suffering quite a lot of fuel tank lifter pump failures, at around £400 a time.
16-12-2012: First report of a DPF disaster on a 38k mile Focus 1.6TDCI. Car used mainly for short runs, but run on premium diesel and taken for a long run each week to clear the DPF. On on e of these runs the DPF light came on. Car taken for another run by the garage on which the engine suffered a surge of power, then stalled. Later found sump level far too high, injectors "melted" and turbo "blown". £4,000 of damage. Moral is to regularly check these engines for rising levels of sump oil.
The 2008 facelift Ford Focus may be a common sight on our roads and was the default choice for many company car drivers, but there's a very good reason for it. It's a genuinely great hatchback that excels in nearly every area. And that's no mean feat when the competition includes the the Volkswagen Golf and Honda Civic.
Technically the 2008 Ford Focus isn't really new, it's a revised version of the second generation Focus, introduced in 2004 with most of the faults of that model corrected. The basic structure has been left along, so it retains the superb handling and comfort of before, along with the five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating.
But the outside was sharpened up while the interior got a major revamp with improved quality, better soundproofing and a neater design. As before, there's plenty of room for four adults while the layout of the buttons and controls is very user-friendly. Usefully, ESP stability control was also made standard on every 2008 Focus and there were more variations than ever.
Aside from the high performance Focus RS and Focus ST models, it's the super efficient Focus ECOnetic 90 with Start-Stop that grabbed the headlines thanks to economy of 74.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km that means it still qualifies for free annual VED.
There's no doubt that the 2008-2011 Focus was better than ever before, with a high quality feel, great handling, a comfortable ride and a wide range of engines. But there was one big drawback - the list price. High list prices made the Ford Focus a relatively expensive car and the entry-level models cost more than the cheapest Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series (not that quality was any lower than the Audi or the BMW). Unfortunately, because of the Ford badge, the 2008-2011 Focus was only ever a senible buy for private motorists if it could be obtained at discounts approaching those achieved by fleet buyers.