Ford Focus Vignale – practical enjoyment

Subtle changes on this model but a definite improvement.

Whenever I get behind the wheel of a Ford Focus my mind always goes back to the launch of the first Focus. Back in 1998 it was a game changer for anyone who enjoys the act of driving and has meant that every succeeding Focus has had a lot to live up to, and stiffer competition. The good news is that the latest Focus is still a class leader in the fun factor league.

My test model, a heavily equipped Active Vignale provides a pseudo-SUV style (hence the Active moniker) and with a 1.0-litre mild hybrid power that produces excellent performance and economy plus helps reduce emissions too. Despite all this sensibleness the Focus can still make the winding road home something to anticipate with relish.

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with electric assistance, making it a mild hybrid, develops 155PS – there’s a lower powered 125PS – and my test car is priced at €31,217/£29,160. Even at this top line level there are still options and they meant my test model tipped the price scales at €38,371/£32,510.

Give the car a gentle poke with the proverbial sharp stick and it will fairly gallop along, and it also feels lively and responsive in corners. It passes the benchmark 62 mph in 9.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 131 mph. This might not sound fast but it isn’t always about speed, the audibly characterful EcoBoost engine is a delight and combined with Ford’s handling skills makes it a spirited drive.

The generous standard equipment list includes everything from LED lights and a proper heated windscreen to selectable drive modes and rough road suspension with increased ride height. On a more practical level, the newest Focus has enough space in the back seat for a couple of lanky adults and the boot is big enough for family duties.

There’s a distinct lack of buttons in the latest Focus, but thankfully Ford have kept their intuitive streak and the extra-large touchscreen has all the ‘buttons’ visible without needing to drive through sub menus. The changes for this latest model may be subtle, but they have definitely improved on the already excellent package, and with prices starting from £23,500 the range is affordable.

In a world where the SUV seems to rule there is still plenty of reasons for a hatchback to exist, and the Focus, even in its more normal guise, more than delivers.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Ford Focus Active Vignale

Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol with electric mild hybrid assistance – 155PS

Gears: 6-speed manual

Performance: 0-100 kph (62 mph) Petrol 9.0 secs

Maximum Speed Petrol 210 kph (131 mph)

Economy: Petrol 5.4 l/100km (54.3 mpg) WLTP

Emissions: 118 g/km WLTP

Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.

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