Ford Focus Review 2023

Ford Focus At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Ford Focus delivers just the right blend of family-friendly comfort, young-at-heart handling, jack-of-all-trades practicality and penny-pinching affordability.

+Cheaper to buy and better equipped than outgoing Focus. Improved ride quality. Larger cabin. 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

-No electric or hybrid powertrains. Unusual number of electical and electronic system failures reported.

New prices start from £25,595, brokers can source from £24,886
Insurance Groups are between 13–17
On average it achieves 79% of the official MPG figure

The 2018 Ford Focus has all the attributes that have traditionally made the model one of the UK’s best-selling cars, and has accentuated them even further. Yes, a Skoda Scala is cheaper, and a Volkswagen Golf feels posher. However, no rival is better to drive than the Focus, and the Ford does well enough on all these other points to ensure its popularity. It may be one of the obvious choices in the class, but that’s because it’s one of the best family cars on sale.


Occasionally, Fords get accused of being boring. Ordinary. Common. Humdrum, even. But have you ever stopped to think why that might be?

Could it be because they’re absolutely everywhere? After all, they do say familiarity breeds contempt. However, the reason that Fords are such a common sight on our roads isn’t because they’re boring. It’s because they’re popular. Really popular. And why’s that? Well, it’s because most of them are really good.

Take the Focus. This is one of the UK’s best-selling cars each and every year, meaning it’s also one of the most popular, and it has been for a long time. Is it the most glamorous choice? Nope. Is it the most interesting? Probably not. But is it a good choice? You bet.

Let’s start with the area in which it excels the most, and that’s in the way it drives. This is a car with a level of dynamic polish that many more expensive cars could only dream of.

It changes direction with incredible sharpness thanks to strong grip and tight body control, and the controls - the steering especially - give you lots of information about what’s going on, making you feel part of the action every step of the way. And no, it’s not all about boy-racer handling.

It’s just as much about the feeling of safety the car gives you. Ask any little old lady who owns a Focus, and she’ll tell you that she loves driving it, but she doesn’t really know why. Well, that’s why.

Even more impressively, the Focus manages to combine this handling prowess with a level of ride comfort that’s a match for just about anything else in the class, and that’s not an easy thing to achieve.

Meanwhile, you have a wide range of petrol (named Ecoboost) and diesel (called EcoBlue) engines that give a good mix of power, refinement and economy.

The Focus does a very solid job in other areas, too. The latest version is roomier than ever thanks to increased space in the back, and it’s now among the class leaders on that score. The boot is also very competitive on size, and the cabin comes stocked with a decent amount of standard equipment. Most of the latest infotainment gadgetry is present and correct, along with all the important safety gear.

Granted, there is one area in which it struggles relative to many rivals, and that’s on interior quality. Some of the plastics on show inside the cabin just don’t have the lustre that they do in competitors. Judged in isolation, however, it stops short of feeling cheap overall, and there’s no reason to suspect it won’t be durable.

The Focus isn’t the cheapest family car on sale, either, but it is very competitive on that score, so it does stack up financially. All in all, we can see why the Focus has proved so popular over the years, and that’s because it’s a sound, sensible - not to mention really enjoyable - choice.

Ask Honest John

A newer version of the same model car has higher CO2, why is this?

"I have just purchased a 2021 (21 plate) Ford Focus ST-Line 1.5 diesel 120hp and part exchanged a 2019 (19 plate) Ford Focus ST-Line 1.5 diesel 120hp because it was approaching a 5 year old cut off that my company requires. Getting the tax and insurance for the newer vehicle I noticed that the g/km of CO2 has gone up from 103g/km to 118g/km despite it essentially being exactly the same engine and in fact the older car didn't require 'ad-blue' but the newer one does. The car tax I am paying as a result is higher despite thinking I was buying technically and performance wise, exactly the same car. Can you explain why the CO2 has risen so much on the newer one?"
There are a couple of reasons this may be the case. One is that the CO2 performance of your vehicle has been revised, something which manufacturers are frequently required to do throughout the lifecycle of a model. The most likely issue however is that your 2019 car's CO2 performance was measured under the old NEDC official testing regime, which produced better results. Since then the WLTP testing regime has been introduced, which is designed to better represent real-world driving conditions and produces results which are more likely to be replicable. Almost every car produced higher fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as a result.
Answered by David Ross

Does the 2022 Ford Focus automatic still have gearbox issues?

"I am contemplating buying a 2022 Ford Focus with an auto gearbox. Have Ford sorted the earlier auto box problems?"
The current generation Focus introduced in late 2021 uses a different design of dual-clutch transmission from another supplier, rather than the Powershift design that has previously suffered some reliability issues, so we would have few qualms about its reliabilty.
Answered by David Ross

Why has Ford increased the recommended tyre pressures on the Focus?

"I have purchased a new Ford Focus 1.0 125 Titanium. This replaced the same model purchased in 2019. Ford have increased the 16 inch wheel pressures in 2022 from 33psi to 38psi which gives a harder ride. Do you know why they did this?"
A lot of manufacturers increased cold tyre pressures around this time to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy when the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) was introduced to measure miles-per-gallon. Previously engines were bench-tested to get economy data. The newer procedure simulates real-world driving conditions and higher tyre pressures give lower rolling resistance. If you prefer the softer ride of 33psi it's a decision you take at your own risk as 38psi is the manufacturer's quoted tyre pressure for the model.
Answered by Craig Cheetham

How do I clean the windscreen washer bottle in my car?

"I have a 2022 Ford Focus and the washer bottle appears to be blocked with gunge, but I can’t get access to it easily. I would have tried the hosepipe method but it is in a tight position under the bonnet on the left hand side."
If you are unable to use a hosepipe to clear the blockage, you may need to gain access to the bottle from underneath by removing the front wheel and the wheelarch liner. We would not advise adding any chemicals to the bottle as these may damage your paintwork.
Answered by David Ross
More Questions

What does a Ford Focus cost?

Buy new from £24,886(list price from £28,500)