Review: Ford Focus (2008 – 2011)

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Much improved 2004 Focus. 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.

Ford Focus (2008 – 2011): At A Glance

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.

Ford Focus 2008 facelift Range Road Test

2008 Ford Focus Econetic 3,000 mile Test

2008 Ford Focus Econetic 6,000 mile Test

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What does a Ford Focus (2008 – 2011) cost?

List Price from £20,650
Buy new from £16,346
Contract hire from £179.77 per month

Ford Focus (2008 – 2011): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4337–4481 mm
Width 1839–1879 mm
Height 1497–1503 mm
Wheelbase 2640 mm

Full specifications

Inside there are new trim materials, new plastic, a new dash with bright red readouts to answer criticism that on the previous Focus you couldn't read the readouts. You get the standard stalk to choose menus such as trip computer, how much steering power assistance and whether you want the Electronic Stability Control on or off. The stalk works so naturally it comes as second nature as soon as you've used it once. And some models have dual climate control, so it isn't pistols at dawn between driver and passenger to decide how hot or cold they're both going to be.

Child seats that fit a Ford Focus (2008 – 2011)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Ford Focus (2008 – 2011) like to drive?

I'm calling this a ‘pre-test' because they didn't have any 114g/km Focus ECONetics, or any cars with Ford and Getrag's ‘Powershift' equivalent of VAG's DSG transmission. Instead, all we got to drive were a 2.0 litre 145PS petrol Zetec 3-door, and a 2.0 litre 135PS diesel estate, both ‘lever Espana' (Manuel).

The Zetec had the ‘Sport' option, which includes 205/50 tyres on jewel-like 17" alloy wheels and sports suspension. So it should have ridden a bit hard, but it didn't. Instead it had the astonishing ability to isolate driver and passenger from bumps and thumps as if they were happening elsewhere. And it combined this with simply stunning handling and roadholding. At any kind of reasonable speed, and as long as you didn't do something daft like brake half way round a corner, it simply gripped. Not in a sportscary Porschy way, reassuring you that you're some kind of hot stuff behind the wheel. But in a calm, unflurried manner, as likely to appeal to a vicar as to a rally driver.

The 2.0TDCI 135 estate we tried next day came with top-level Titanium trim, which include a fully carpeted load area, satnav and 205/55 x 16" tyres.

I wanted to try the wagon because there had been some criticism of noise levels inside the old model. And, in truth, at 70mph, with the engine turning over at just 2,000rpm, you could still hear it was a diesel. No problem with tyre noise, but, of course, the thick carpeting would have deadened any of that. Yet, despite being on slightly deeper profile tyres than the Zetec Sport, the ride wasn't as good. Maybe stiffer suspension for load carrying. Maybe worse roads. But with this car the rough stuff was merely cushioned rather than absorbed. Still not bad by class standards. Just not as good as the Zetec Sport.

The handling, however, was every bit as fine. This car takes to corners like The Stig does to the Top Gear track.

Ford has also sorted out the power delivery. Instead of nothing to torque about under 1,800 rpm, the new car will pull up fairly steep hills from just 1,200rpm in third.

Unfortunately, though, it's in Emissions Band E, so won't find as many buyers as the Band B 1.6 TDCI.

Like its predecessor the new Focus is an excellent car. Only this time more so. Not entirely fault-free. Our 2.0i Sport had a duff gear change gate that made 3rd hard to find. (No doubt something the garage could fix.) And it's now just a 5-speed rather than 6-speed. But nothing else gets close to the car's stunning combination of ride and handling, except, maybe, a Volvo C30, which is based on a Focus floorpan.

It will continue to be Britain's most popular car. No less than 1 in 20 cars sold in the UK over the past 9 years have been the Ford Focus. As always, that will put off the snobs who feel somehow superior driving a Golf, even though they're not really enjoying enjoying themselves as much. People still remember David Bailey's 23 year old commercial, ‘Few things in life are as reliable as a Volkswagen' and delude themselves it's still true.

So Golfs will continue to sell very well. But don't be surprised to see their price premium being eroded and ever increasing quantities finding their way to auction via Ford dealers.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 43 mpg 14.1 s 157 g/km
1.6 42 mpg 11.9–12.2 s 159 g/km
1.6 Automatic 37–38 mpg 13.6–13.9 s 184 g/km
1.6 TDCi 63–71 mpg 10.9–12.9 s 104–119 g/km
1.6 TDCi ECOnetic 66–71 mpg 10.9–12.9 s 104–115 g/km
1.6 TDCi ECOnetic Start-Stop 74 mpg 11.8 s 99 g/km
1.6 Ti-VCT 43 mpg 10.8 s 157 g/km
1.8 40 mpg 10.3–10.5 s 167–169 g/km
1.8 FFV 40 mpg 10.3–10.5 s 167–169 g/km
1.8 TDCi 53–54 mpg 10.8–10.9 s 137–139 g/km
2.0 40 mpg 9.2–9.4 s 169 g/km
2.0 Automatic 35 mpg 10.7–10.9 s 189 g/km
2.0 TDCi 50–51 mpg 9.3–9.5 s 144–148 g/km
2.0 TDCi 135 51 mpg 9.3 s 144 g/km
2.0 TDCi 135 Powershift 49 mpg 9.6 s 154 g/km
2.0 TDCi 135 PowerShift 49 mpg 9.9 s 154 g/km

Real MPG average for a Ford Focus (2008 – 2011)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

23–68 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Ford Focus (2008 – 2011)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Where can I get a radio code for my Ford Focus?

Can you tell me where I can get the radio code for my 2010 model Ford Focus?
Yes, you can get Ford radio codes here:
Answered by Dan Powell
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