16: Ford Focus – Well-engineered but starting to lose ground to rivals

Top cars for 2020: A solid car, but one that feels as if it’s treading water

 

Ford’s latest Focus was supposed to have been a big re-invention of the Blue Oval’s iconic family five-door, but sadly, when it appeared, it was simply a well-engineered re-hash of what had gone before.

The styling, in particular, must come in for some criticism as although it’s technically handsome, it’s far too bland and easily mistaken for cars from other brands (remember how distinctive the 1998 original Focus was? No, neither does Ford apparently).

Equally, the interior is too cheap in appearance and feel for a car whose starting price is now above €20,000. On the upside, the Focus remains the absolute benchmark for driving dynamics in this class. It has silky-smooth, super-accurate steering and chassis responses that put many supposed sports cars to shame.

And you don’t even have to upgrade to the 280hp ST version to experience that (although spending extra on the estate, to get the more sophisticated rear suspension, is definitely a good idea. A solid car, then, but one that feels as if it’s treading water.

Best model: 1.5 EcoBlue Estate ST-Line for €26,799

Price range: €22,513 to €41,099. Finance from POA per month.

Co2 emissions: 93 to 179g/km

Sum up: Sharp, but slipping back.