2019 Ford Focus Review
Toby Hagon’s 2019 Ford Focus Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.
In a nutshell: Ford’s all-new answer to the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 and a small car that continues its strong European lineage but now with three-cylinder power and a broader model range.
2019 Ford Focus Specifications
Price From $25,990+ORC Warranty 5 years, unlimited km Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety 5 star ANCAP rating Engine 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo Power 134kW at 6000rpm Torque 240Nm at 1600rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive Front-wheel drive Dimensions (hatch) 4378mm (L), 1825mm (W), 1454mm (H), 2700mm (WB) Ground Clearance 135mm (hatch), 163mm (Active hatch) Kerb Weight 1332-1347kg (hatch) Towing 1200kg Towball Download 120kg Boot Space 443 litres Spare Space saver Fuel Tank 52 litres Thirst 6.4L/100km
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Unlike the Laser of the 1980s the Ford Focus has largely failed to fire in Australia. But Ford is hoping this all-new model can take the fight to the likes of the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Corolla.
With a larger body and more space, the latest Focus gets a new three-cylinder engine that offers plenty of punch. There’s also a new transmission to justify the “all-new” tag.
What’s in the range and how much does it cost?
Forget hatch and sedan, the Focus is available only as a hatchback or wagon (in that sense it mimics the Volkswagen Golf).
While the wagon is available as a single model (an ST-Line priced at $30,990, plus on-road costs) there are four grades for the hatch. For now the Focus lineup kicks off with the Trend, priced from $25,990. With the exception of the Volkswagen Golf that makes it the most expensive of the mainstream small cars.
As with all Focuses it gets a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine mated to an eight-speed auto. There are also three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Sport – that adjust steering feel, throttle response and gearshift points.
All models also come with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), satellite-navigation, auto headlights, auto wipers, digital radio, 180-degree reversing camera, rear parking sensors and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Next step up is the ST-Line ($28,990), which picks up some of the sporty thinking of the Focus hot hatch (known as ST in the old model) but with the same 1.5-litre engine as the Trend.
There are unique bumpers, a honeycomb grille, side skirts and 17-inch alloy wheels (up from 16s) for some visual flair. That’s continued inside with red stitching and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Suspension has been lowered by 10mm and there are LED tail lights.
Additional gear for the ST-Line includes leather trim, heated front seats, dual-zone ventilation, metal pedals, smart key entry, tyre pressure sensors and Qi wireless smartphone charging.
The ST-Line can be had as a wagon for another $2000 ($30,990)
Top of the Focus tree is the Titanium ($34,490), which adds radar cruise control to maintain a set speed to the car in front. It also allows the driver to let the car do the braking and accelerating in traffic, bringing the car to a complete halt before taking off again.
That radar also improves the functionality of the AEB, giving it more visibility to pick obstacles further away. There’s also blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert with auto braking.
The Titanium also steps up to 18-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting inside and a Bang & Olufsen 10-speaker sound system. For another $300 there’s a head-up display to project the speedo and other information on a virtual space at the end of the bonnet.
Those wanting a hint of SUV flavour can choose the Focus Active, at $29,990.
It broadly shares its equipment level with the ST-Line but has raised suspension with unique architecture, higher profile 17-inch tyres, two unique drive modes – Trail and Slippery – and unique styling touches to toughen the look.
Ford in Australia has also homologated an Ambiente version which could go on to become the most affordable model. The company says it has not yet decided if the Ambiente would be sold here. If it was it would be powered by a 1.5-litre non-turbo three-cylinder with just 90kW and connected to a six-speed transmission. Also expect a price tag closer to $20K.
What’s the interior and practicality like?
The presentation of cabins in small cars has jumped dramatically in recent years, but the Focus still lags the best in class for materials and attention to detail.
The front seats in the Trend, for example, lack lateral support, so you’ll be bracing yourself through bends. While there are some interesting materials – such as the dark, grained plastics in the centre console or the technical dash trim on the ST-Line – there’s enough generic grey plastics to lower the ambience.
It’s a step down in the rear, too. While the plastics on the doors look identical, those in the rear are harder, with a scratchy feel. Those in the rear don’t get quite the same pampering. There’s no folding arm rest, for example, and no rear air vents. Head room is bordering on tight in the rear and, in the wagon, is compromised by the optional panoramic sunroof. But as a decent sized small car it otherwise mounts a spacious case, with respectable legroom.
While the hatch’s boot is decent and broad, the luggage area of the wagon is thoroughly cavernous, with more width and plenty of length.
What are the controls and infotainment like?
The 8.0-inch touchscreen dominates the dash and plonks it close to the driver’s line of sight. A restrained cluster of buttons directly below it provides easy access to main functions, including volume adjustments for the sound system.
That clean look is continued through the cockpit, particularly in the centre console, where a compact circular gear selector and button-operated park brake allow plenty of room for storage. Similarly, the ventilation controls are simple and logically laid out.
The instrument cluster is a mix of traditional and digital. The speedo and tacho are basic-looking analogue gauges and there’s a digital display that can be switched between a digital speedo or trip computer; it’s a shame you can’t have both at once.
As for functionality of the infotainment system, it has a terrific broad camera view when reversing. Getting around the menus is also relatively easy, and you can use voice commands for many features. However, the sat-nav in our car was occasionally confused, plonking the car in a field or forest and instructing to make unnecessary turns to get back on track.
Of course, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as part of its functionality you can bypass the built-in nav and use the smartphone-based ones.
What’s the performance like?
A three-cylinder engine could be a tough sell against four-cylinders long consider the small car norm. But the figures tell a promising story, with a full 134kW to play with.
No issues with performance from the three-cylinder engine, either, which has a nice dollop of torque not far off idle. It makes for useful acceleration, something maintained throughout its rev range. Dial up Sport mode and the throttle response isn’t as progressive, occasionally surging with too much torque on light prods of the accelerator.
In any mode the eight-speed auto has closely spaced ratios that keep the engine bubbling along in its sweet spot. Less endearing is its tendency to jump into taller gears only to be caught out when you need power again. Sometimes it works nicely, while others it’s not as intuitive. It’ll occasionally pick what’s going on but needs more smarts for twisty road driving.
Similarly, the thrumming of the engine on light throttle applications at lower speeds is a mild blip in an otherwise impressive story of refinement.
As for fuel use, the official figure is impressively low, at 6.4 litres per 100km and if you drive gently you’ll get close to that. But you’ll be up for more expensive premium unleaded (like the Volkswagen Golf).
What’s it like on the road?
The Focus is a class act in its on-road behaviour, the new underpinnings and efforts that went into positioning the car as engaging to drive paying big dividends.
Fluid steering sets the scene for a predictable and progressive driving experience. The Focus has never been short of driving talent and the new one steps it up nicely courtesy of a stiffer body and new suspension. One of the big areas of improvement has been to refinement, with road noise well contained and a general sense of quietness in the cabin.
Focus hatchbacks make do with a torsion beam rear suspension system that contributes to terrific noise suppression. The Focus wagon gets a more advanced multi-link rear suspension partially chosen for its superior load carrying characteristics.
Even the torsion beam setup does a terrific job, the overall maturity making for easy progress. Step up the pace and there’s no complaint, the body control and poise contributing to a fine driving equation.
If there’s a minor criticism it’s the low speed ride, occasionally fidgeting over repeated bumps. Hey, it’s the price of progress for one very impressive dynamic equation. Grip in the wet was also sub-par on the Trend’s 16-inch eco-focused Continental tyres.
What’s it like off the road?
For the first time the Focus has a light-duty rough-roader in the lineup. Known as Active, it sits higher off the road, with claimed ground clearance of 163mm. But there’s no four-wheel drive system, and Ford acknowledges it’s not about trudging off-road. Instead it’ll be better at tackling lumpy driveways or ambling over big speed humps with less fuss. And looking the part!
Does it have a spare?
There’s a space saver spare in every focus. It will affect handling when fitted and limit the recommended top speed to 80km/h.
Can you tow with it?
The Focus can tow very small boats or vans or box trailers. Its tow capacity is 1200kg.
What about ownership?
The Focus is covered by a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is required every 12 months or 15,000km and the first four services are capped at $299 each.
What safety features does it have?
The inclusion of auto emergency braking (AEB) on all models is the big ticket safety improvement for the new Focus. Using a camera to monitor the road, it operates at freeway speeds and can detect pedestrians and cyclists up to 80km/h. The addition of a radar on the Titanium gives it a longer range, too.
Other features include lane departure warning and, in the Titanium, lane centring, which proactively aims to keep the car on track within its lane rather than reacting once it is drifting out of its lane. There are also six airbags and a crash structure that helped earn the Focus the maximum five-star safety rating.