Review: Ford Focus (2011 – 2014)

Rating:

Refined and upmarket feel to the cabin. Comfortable and quiet on the move. More efficient petrol and diesel engines. Better ride quality. Excellent £750 Driver Assist Pack.

About 50 litres less bootspace than previous model. Engines all belt cam. Plagued with clutch problems and 1.0 EcoBoost degas pipe failures. Too many issues to hang on to 4 stars.

Recently Added To This Review

26 July 2019

Report of 3rd gear of manual transmission of 2011/61 Ford Focus 1.6TDCI starting to fail at 67,000 miles. 135 dated problems reported. This makes the 2011 to 2014 Ford Focus our second most complained... Read more

24 July 2019

Juddering reported from Powershift transmission of another 2013 Ford Focus. Read more

19 July 2019

Juddering clutch pack reported in 2013 Ford Focus Powershift. Read more

Ford Focus (2011 – 2014): At A Glance

In the beginning was the Ford, and the Ford was a Focus. The rather unassuming hatchback has become the default choice for many and a car against which everything else is measured. Look up 'affordable family hatchback' in that imaginary dictionary everyone goes on about and you'll see a picture of a Focus. Probably a silver one.

In a way it's become the modern day 'peoples car'. A reliable, practical and affordable vehicle that's liked by everyone from families to pensioners to those who want something enjoyable to drive. In essence it is the perfect all-rounder that's even branched out to performance models with the ST and RS. So when a new Focus comes along, it's - not unsurprisingly - a big deal. No pressure then.

You'll doubtless read plenty of road tests of this generation Focus and many of them will go on about the original Focus (which replaced the unbelievably drab Escort in 1998) and how it 'set the benchmark' for hatchbacks and 'revolutionised' the way people thought about family cars.

They may be cliches but they're accurate. At the time the competition was - and lets be kind here - dire at best with alternatives like the Nissan Almera and Vauxhall Astra. Hardly stuff to get you excited. So when the Focus came along it blew everything else out of the water.

The general consensus of the third generation Focus is that it doesn't 'change the game' in the same way the original did. But then it was never going to. A lot has changed since the first Focus was launched, not least with the quality and comfort of small cars. The competition is now better than ever, driven by the high demands of customers, especially us in the UK. Instead Ford has taken the strengths that made the Focus a success and built on them.

So while this Focus may not as exciting to drive as the original, it still excels in nearly every other department. It's quiet and comfortable on the move, easy to drive, has a high quality interior and some mightily impressive (and efficient) engines. There's very little to criticise (aside from a cut in boot space) and much to praise. Okay, so it may not rock your world, but the Focus does everything you want it to and does it well.

We also covered this car as a live launch. Click here for a replay of what happened.

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Ford Focus 2011 Road Test and Video

Ford Focus 2012 1.0 Ecoboost 125 Road Test

Ford Focus 2014 Facelift Road Test

What does a Ford Focus (2011 – 2014) cost?

List Price from £18,540
Buy new from £13,994
Contract hire from £153.30 per month

Ford Focus (2011 – 2014): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4358 mm
Width 1858–2010 mm
Height 1461–1484 mm
Wheelbase 2648 mm

Full specifications

It's all change inside the Focus with a new interior which is shared with the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX. This means a very high quality feel to the finish although you do wonder why car manufacturers decide to put soft touch materials on the dash top and then finish the tops of the doors - an area you touch all the time - in a much harder and less tactile plastic.

There are plenty of swoopy lines and curves in the design and a nice thick-rimmed steering wheel that gives even the entry-level models a sporty feel. It's very much the sort of interior you'd expect in a larger car, like the Mondeo for example and all cars get features like the DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and a USB connection - something which no other hatchback at this level can match.

The digital display on the dash top adds to the expensive feel - no old fashioned displays for the Focus - plus there is a multifunction trip computer, called very theatrically the 'Human Machine Interface' by Ford with a display between the instrument dials, again adding to the premium appearance.

There have been a few criticisms of the stereo controls as they're the same as the Fiesta but there's no denying they enhance the Focus (a Sony stereo is available as an optional extra which does look very neat). However, with all the extras fitted, it can feel a little overhwhelming with buttons and switches everywhere. For instance the steering wheel has buttons for controlling the trip computer menu and switches on the underside for the stereo.

It's spacious though, especially for the driver and front passenger. The seats offer lots of adjustment and it feels considerably wider than the old Focus (even though the figures say it's actually narrower - how does that work?) while the seats are comfortable with good support too.

We suppose space in the back is best descibed as 'reasonable' and feels about the same as the previous model. It's not as roomy as a Honda Civic (which is one of the best in this class) but is in a par with a Golf we reckon.

The surprise is bootspace. At 316 litres with a mini spare wheel (and only 277 litres with a full size spare) it's about 50-litres smaller than the previous Focus and less than five-door versions of the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra which both have around 350 litres. On the plus side, it's a very square boot floor with a wide opening and only a small boot lip. The back seats fold down really easily too.

We think the Driver Assistance Pack is great value at £750 and comes with some genuinely useful systems to make driving easier. There are actually six different bits to it, which makes it seem even better when you look at how much premium manufacturers charge for similar systems.

Firstly there's a lane departure warning system that vibrates the steering wheel if you drift aross the white lines on a motoway without indicating and includes the Lane Keeping Aid which will actually gently steer the car back.

The Driver Alert system can recognise if the driver is getting drowsy or falling asleep and will trigger a visible and audible warning to make sure they're awake while Auto High Beam automatically switches the headlamps between full beam and dipped if a car is coming the other way.

There's even a Traffic Sign Recognition systems that uses a digital camera to identify signs in either side of the road, displaying the info (such as speed limits, no overtaking etc) in the instrument cluster.

But the most impressive feature is the Active City Stop. This uses a forward facing laser (next to the rearview mirror) to detect cars ahead. It constantly monitors the distance to the vehicle in front and if - for example - the car you're following brakes suddenly and you don't react in time, it will automatically apply the brakes. It works at up to 20mph and even if it can't avoid a collision, will minimise the impact.

Standard equipment from launch (March 2011):

Edge is the base-level model but still comes pretty well equipped with manual air conditioning, electric mirrors, remote central locking, ESP with torque vectoring control, front, side and curtain airbags, a mini spare steel wheel, DAB radio with a CD player, Bluetooth, voice control, USB, a Thatcham category 1 alarm, integrated rear spoiler and driver seat lumbar support.

Zetec is the most popular trim and has 16-inch alloy wheels, a Quickclear heated windscreen, front fog lights, leather trimmed steering wheel, premium centre console with armrest, stowage compartments, 12v power sockets and a Z-shaped handbrake, sports style front seats and heated door mirrors.

Titanium models come with the 'Power' engine start/stop button, a Sony stereo system, cruise control, rain sensitive wipers, automatic headlights, a leather gear lever, dual zone climate control, hill start assist, rear lights with LED technology and a gloss black lower grille.

Titanium X is the top grade and adds Active Park Assist (with front and rear parking sensors), 17-inch alloy wheels, partial leather trim, LED driving lights, heated front seats, xenon headlights, electrically folding mirrors, headlamp jet wash and interior ambient lighting with multi-coloured LEDs.

Child seats that fit a Ford Focus (2011 – 2014)

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 (2011 – 2014) like to drive?

While the styling of the new Focus might divide opinion, once you're behind the wheel most people would agree that there's very little to criticise. In the usual mundane everyday kind of driving we all have to do, the Focus is quiet, smooth and an absolute doddle to drive.

All the controls such as the gear change, clutch and brake pedal, are precise and easy to operate. It's a very agreeable car indeed.

The ride deserves special mention. The suspension is softer than the old Focus which means it's far more adept at dealing with potholes and bumps, giving an overall impression of refinement and that 'big car' feel everyone goes on about. If you found the old Focus a little too firm, give this one a chance and we reckon you'll be impressed. It's certainly as comfortable as a Golf.

The body structure is stiffer than before too which helps with the feeling of quality while both noise and vibration are kept to a minimum, even over rough roads at a decent pace. But don't think that the Focus has gone all soft. It's still very surefooted in corners and although not as agile as the original Focus, is still keen and responsive when you turn into a bend while there's good front end grip if you're coming out of a slow corner.

It's helped by Ford's clever new Torque Vectoring Control system which is standard on all models. It's similar to the XDS system that's used on certain SEAT and Skoda models in that is uses the brakes to imitate the effects of a differential. So the theory is that by gently braking the inside front wheel in a corner and giving more power to the outside wheel, it'll feel more direct with better grip and steering.

However it operates, the simple fact is that it works a treat. On twisting roads it's a real delight and makes the Focus feel sharp in corners and means you don't have to work the steering wheel as much when you're on a particularly demanding bit of road.

The new Focus also gets a steering system which is electric rather than hydraulically assisted. It's met with a mixed response and does take a little getting used to, but it works perfectly well and is well weighted, although could do with a bit more feel and does have tendency to want to centre itself a bit too keenly.

The entry-level engine is the 1.6 TI-VCT petrol with a five-speed manual gearbox. It's available with 105PS or 125PS and seems more than adequate for the Focus plus both versions have a claimed average fuel consumption of 47.9mpg and CO2 of 136g/km.

It's the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine that catches the eye though. This is basically Ford's equivalent of the TSI engines you get in Volkswagen models with the idea being to make the engine size smaller but fit it with a turbocharger to give it the extra power. However, as the turbo isn't needed all the time, fuel consumption is much lower.

It effectively replaces the 2.0-litre petrol in the old Focus but is faster and more efficient. It's a great engine too with plenty if character to it and a real buzzy nature that makes it feel like a little performance hatch. It'll happily hit high revs with no drop off in performance but it's 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds only tells half the story.

It feels very rapid when you're accelerating in gear and is one of those engines that just loves to be worked. It's just hugely enjoyable to drive. And the good news is that deapite having 150PS on tap emissions are just 139g/km while claimed economy is 47.1mpg - pretty outstanding considering the pace it offers.

The TDCi diesels are carried over from the old Focus but have been tweaked to be more efficient. There's no full ECOnetic model as yet but the fuel saving technology is used on various models. So the 1.6 EcoBoost and 1.6 TDCi models get the engine stop/start system while all models get a grille that closes when cooling isn't needed, to reduce air drag.

This helps the 1.6 TDCi manual average a claimed 67.3mpg with emissions of just 109g/km of CO2. It may seem a lowly engine with just 115PS (a lower powered and cheaper 95PS version is available which is aimed at company buyers - it's slower but no more economical) but is surprisingly swift and pulls really strongly thanks to 270Nm of torque while there's an extra 15Nm thanks to an overboost function which kicks in if you accelerate hard - ideal for quick overtaking.

It's so good in fact it almost make you think twice about the 2.0 TDCi. This is available with 115PS, 140PS or the impressive 163PS version. If you're wondering why there's a 115PS version (and it's a very good question), it's because it comes with Ford's new PowerShift twin-clutch automatic gearbox which it seems doesn't work with the smaller 1.6 TDCi.

The 140PS and 163PS versions come with a satisfyingly positive six-speed manual as standard while the PowerShift is available as an option at £1250 - a bit steep in our book. It doesn't get steering wheel paddles as you'd expect either. Instead there are ridiculous buttons on the gear lever itself which we don't expect to last. Expect to see a swift alteration very soon. If you want an automatic, though, it’s the obvious choice and a private buyer won’t pay any more annual tax for it than you would for a 1.6 petrol.

Like the 1.6 TDCi, the 2.0-litre diesels are quiet, smooth but punchy and ideal for long distance motorway driving. The torque is immense too and on the motorway you'll rarely, if ever, have to take it out of sixth gear. The 140PS versions have 320Nm while the top of the range 163PS models deliver an impressive 340Nm.

Still the fact that the most powerful diesel covers the 0-62mph benchmark in the same time as the 1.6 EcoBoost shows you how far petrol engines have come in recent years. Economy is better in the diesels, although not by that much. The manual 2.0 TDCi has a claimed average of 56.5mpg while the PowerShift gearbox sees this drop slightly to 53.3mpg - that's regardless of which power version you go for.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 EcoBoost 100 60–66 mpg 12.5 s 99–109 g/km
1.0 EcoBoost 125 57 mpg 11.3 s 114 g/km
1.6 48 mpg 10.9–14.9 s 136 g/km
1.6 EcoBoost 150 48 mpg 7.9 s 137 g/km
1.6 Powershift 45 mpg 11.7 s 146 g/km
1.6 PowerShift 45 mpg 11.7 s 146 g/km
1.6 TDCi 115 67 mpg 10.8 s 109 g/km
1.6 TDCi 115 Start-Stop 67 mpg 10.8 s 109 g/km
1.6 TDCi 95 Start-Stop 67 mpg 12.5 s 109 g/km
1.6 TDCi ECOnetic 76–83 mpg 11.8 s 88–99 g/km
1.6 Ti-VCT 105 48 mpg 12.3 s 136 g/km
1.6 Ti-VCT 125 48 mpg 10.9 s 136 g/km
1.6T EcoBoost 48 mpg 7.9–8.6 s 137 g/km
1.6T EcoBoost 150 48 mpg 8.6 s 137 g/km
1.6T EcoBoost 182 48 mpg 7.9 s 137 g/km
1.6T EcoBoost Start-Stop 47 mpg 8.6 s 139 g/km
2.0 TDCi 58 mpg 8.6–8.9 s 124 g/km
2.0 TDCi 140 58 mpg 8.9 s 124 g/km
2.0 TDCi 140 Powershift 54 mpg 9.5 s 134 g/km
2.0 TDCi 163 58 mpg 8.6 s 124 g/km
2.0 TDCi 163 Powershift 54 mpg 8.9 s 134 g/km
2.0 TDCi Powershift 54 mpg 8.9–9.5 s 134 g/km
Electric - 11.0 s -

Real MPG average for a Ford Focus (2011 – 2014)

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

76%

Real MPG

28–67 mpg

MPGs submitted

2333

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 (2011 – 2014)?

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

My Ford Focus needs a new engine but wasn't serviced by Ford dealers - should they still fix it as part of the recall?

I have a 2013 Ford Focus 1.0T. It is currently having a new engine fitted as there was a problem with the coolant, turbo and subsequent oil loss - which I had no warning lights for, or in fact any indication there was a problem. Ford have told me it was not part of the recent recall, yet it is for the exact same problem. I was hoping to get some advice on this. They also claim that because I did not take it directly to a Ford dealer, it would not be considered by the warranty/claims team. Any thoughts or advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately this is a consequence of having a car that develops a mechanical fault serviced independently of the Ford dealer chain. Had it been serviced by Ford dealers then the weakness in the degas pipe from the turbo to the expansion tank would have been corrected. See: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/ford/focus-2011/good Ford should have issued a full-scale recall via the DVLA to save all 1.0 EcoBoost engines that were not being serviced by its dealers and because it didn't, there may be scope for a large class action against them.
Answered by Honest John
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