Noise-suppression measures ensure that the cabin is well insulated from external noise and while it’s not as hushed as the Mazda3, it is quieter than Hyundai’s i30 and the rowdy Kia Cerato.
Thankfully, Ford has improved the turning circle of the new Focus. It is much easier to manoeuvre when parking than the previous model, which felt like a barge.
Disappointingly, the overall parking experience in the Focus Trend test car was not as smooth as expected. There was an extended lag when switching from reverse to drive, or vice versa. The car rolled as though it was in neutral and the transmission took a while to work out if it was supposed to be going forward or in reverse. At one point the car rolled for a full two metres and we had to slam on the brakes before it hit a pole.
It is unclear how widespread the problem is, but it also occurred in the ST-Line we drove the week before the Trend. We have fed this experience back to Ford Australia and the company said a software update had fixed the issue in another car. It was a blight on our experience of an otherwise excellent small car.
When up and running, the new eight-speed automatic transmission is a sweet shifter, engaging at exactly the right moments.
The 1.5-litre 134kW/240Nm three-cylinder turbocharged ‘EcoBoost’ petrol engine is a real sweetie. There’s a hint of turbo lag when accelerating from a standing start, but it gains momentum the higher up the rev range you go.
While enthusiasts will be waiting for the forthcoming 206kW/420Nm ST hot hatch, the little three-pot unit powering the rest of the range offers more than enough performance, and it sounds great too.
The multi-link front and torsion-beam rear suspension that form the basis of the Focus chassis make for a fun drive experience, with the Focus feeling planted through corners, although we encountered some understeer when we tackled a sweeping bend at speed. The tyres, sitting on 16-inch alloy wheels, skip a little on looser surfaces.
On our test, we recorded fuel economy of 8.5L/100km, higher than Ford’s claim of 6.4L/100km.
The previous Focus marked a big improvement over the second-generation version, and while this latest model is excellent, it doesn’t represent the same giant leap forward.
It does, however, do most things really well. If you’re in the market for a small hatchback, it should at least be on your shopping list.