Ford Focus (2014 – 2018) Review

Ford Focus (2014 – 2018) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
This Ford Focus may not have been brand new but nonetheless it's good to drive, fairly practical and it feels well made. Factor in the improved cabin and high-tech features and the Focus is a great choice.

+Relaxed but still enjoyable to drive, well-equipped for the money, a huge choice on the used market.

-Not as practical as some rivals, can’t match its claimed fuel economy, firm ride.

Insurance Groups are between 10–26
On average it achieves 72% of the official MPG figure

As one of the nation’s most popular new cars, you’re not short of choice when buying a used Ford Focus. Launched in 2014, it was more a heavy facelift of its predecessor than an all-new model, but the changes were so significant, it felt like a new car. The exterior styling looks more premium, the infotainment system went up a level, and the new range of engines gave the Focus added punch and efficiency. Rivals include the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra, but for driver appeal, nothing can top the Focus.

‘It doesn’t drive as well as a Ford Focus.’ How often have you read that line in a new car review? Far too often, but the fact remains, few cars can rival the Focus in terms of driver appeal. It’s been that way since the original Focus arrived in the late 90s.

Or has it? In truth, the Focus launched in 2011 failed to live up to expectations, making it feel like an also-ran, rather than a class leader. Something had to be done, which is why Ford rolled out some wholesale changes for the 2014 car.

Take the styling. Park a 2014 Focus alongside a 2013 car and the difference is stark. One looks old and frumpy, while the other looks sharp and contemporary. Dare we suggest that the front grille gives it the feel of an Aston Martin?

Changes on the inside extended to a simplified dashboard and a new infotainment system. Again, the difference between old and new is like night and day. There were new engines, too, including a remarkable 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol and a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel. Neither can offer the fuel economy claimed by Ford, but both offer an excellent blend of performance and economy.

It’s even better to drive than the outgoing model, feeling sharper, yet riding with more composure. Anyone who bought a new Ford Focus in 2013 would be forgiven for feeling a little grumpy when Ford unveiled the new car.

So far, so good, but the Focus is far from perfect. The boot is too small, laughably so if there’s a full-size spare wheel in the back. Rear-seat accommodation is a little cramped, especially for tall passengers, which means some rivals are more practical. You can see why so many people are gravitating to crossovers and SUVs.

Then there’s the cabin quality, which is fine, but nothing more than that. Some of the plastics and switchgear feel cheap, and there are none of the soft-touch materials you might find in, say, a Volkswagen Golf. At least it looks more upmarket, both inside and out.

It’s also worth mentioning the ride quality, which isn’t as supple as you’d find in the Golf or Astra. Not that we’re complaining, because the sharp handling, precise steering and taut suspension combine to make this a fine driver’s car. A Focus 1.0-litre Ecoboost feels like a junior hot hatchback that’s big enough to take the family along for the ride.

There’s a Focus for all. An estate version if you require more space. Titanium and Titanium X models for more toys and luxury. A hardcore RS for hot hatchback thrills. And a sporty ST for the best of both worlds. Prices start from £5,000, so a used Focus needn’t break the bank.

We don’t know what’s more remarkable, the fact that Ford dropped the ball so much when building the earlier Focus, or the fact that the 2014 update was such a comprehensive overhaul. Whatever, you know which Focus you need to buy. All that’s left is to decide on the engine and trim.

Ask Honest John

Will new tyres reduce road noise and improve the ride?

"I have a 2017 Focus with 30k miles. rear tyres are original Michelin with 4-5 mm tread left. The ride is quite hard. Would fitting new tyres improve the ride and reduce road noise please? I have fitted Goodyear Premium Contact to fronts to improve handling."
Changing your tyres for identical replacements would likely have no effect on ride comfort or road noise, so to achieve these improvements you would need to select a different tyre. Looking on you can choose your tyre size and look for tyres that have a low noise rating. Additionally you can choose a tyre with a taller sidewall - the fourth and fifth digits of the tyre size indicate the aspect ratio, so a tyre with this number increased by five would give you a taller sidewall with a small increase in ride comfort while still fitting on your existing wheels. It is worth bearing in mind that this may also result in a slight reduction in steering response in terms of handling, as the taller sidewall will deform to a greater degree during hard cornering.
Answered by David Ross

Should I change the cambelt on my Ford Focus EcoBoost?

"I read somewhere that there has been a massive recall in USA of 2016-2018 Focus with the petrol 3 cylinder engine. Apparently they are failing after only 50,000 miles because the wet cambelts are deteriorating faster than thought in the design stage. My Focus has 60,000 miles and the handbook says it should be changed at 150,000 or 10 years. Do you think I should change it now?"
We have seen reports of issues with the EcoBoost engine regarding the wet belt system, and although the service interval is some time away we would suggest changing the belt sooner than this, particularly if you plan to keep the car long term.
Answered by David Ross

Ford Focus EcoBoost engine failure, who is responsible?

"My engine stopped working on my Ford Focus EcoBoost and the oil light came on. The recovery man said had seized up and its a fault with the model between 2012 and 2015 registered cars so I checked and mine falls in the category. When I took it to the garage the mechanic said to fully strip it to find the exact fault would cost £600-£800 and it's £4,500 for a new engine. Do I sell it with no engine or is it Ford's issue? It has only done 78,000 miles so I feel there must be a problem with this type of engine. "
There has been a number of reported problems with older versions of the 1.0 Ford EcoBoost engine. These problems are linked to the degas pipe, which can fail and result in the engine overheating and failing. As far as I'm aware, Ford replaced these pipes as part of a national recall. However, if your car has been serviced outside of the Ford dealer network then it's possible this recall work has not been carried out. You can read more about the degas pipe issue in the good/bad section of our Ford Fiesta review, here: It's possible the degas pipe isn't to blame. For example, if the engine has run out of oil or water then the failure symptoms will be the same. Your consumer rights will depend on how long you've owned the car and where you bought it from. If you've owned the car for less than six months and bought it from a dealer or trader then you may have grounds to claim the problem was present or developing at the time of sale. For your consumer rights, see:
Answered by Dan Powell

Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra - which is best?

"I'm torn between buying a 2014 Ford Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost or 2012 Vauxhall Astra 1.4-litre Turbo GTC. Both cars have good history and in good condition. Any thoughts on which one is better?"
The Ford Focus is the better car in my opinion. It's good to drive, comfortable and cheaper to run. According to Real MPG submissions, this engine returns 41-42mpg. The 1.4 Astra, in comparison, is around 37mpg. This version of the Focus 1.0 EcoBoost was subject to a major recall in relation to the turbo coolant pipe. Ford later modified the pipe with a white nylon union and this has been retrofitted to most affected cars. But you should check this before buying.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What does a Ford Focus (2014 – 2018) cost?