So much is new about this fourth-generation Focus that the difference between it and its predecessor isn’t so much a gap but a veritable gulf.

The Focus is the first Blue Oval model to be based on the car giant’s new C2 platform. According to Ford, this has played a crucial role in ensuring the Focus lives up to its ‘fun to drive’ USP and enabled overall torsional rigidity of the fourth-generation model to be upped by 20%.

Richard Lane

Road tester
Ford hasn’t always translated the standard car’s fluidity into the hotter ST model with huge success. Let’s hope they manage it this time, because the result could be brilliant.

The rear structure, meanwhile, has been stiffened using the same process developed for the last Focus RS. A shaped foam insert is placed, wet, into a rear underbody cavity and allowed to expand during the paint-drying process, increasing local lateral rigidity by 10% with minimal weight gain. The individual suspension mounting points have also been stiffened.

On that note, the Focus’s suspension configuration differs depending on trim level and body shape specified. All cars come with a MacPherson strut-type arrangement up front, with lower-grade five-door hatches featuring a classic torsion beam at the rear. However, estate models and higher-powered hatchbacks such as our ST-Line X test car gain a multi-link layout for the rear axle.

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As the sporty offering in the Focus line-up – before the ST model arrived, anyway – the ST-Line X also gets shortened, stiffened ‘sport’ springs, stabiliser bars and dampers as standard, which sees ride height lowered by 10mm. Ford’s Continuously Controlled Damping system is available as a £650 option (our car had it).

A 1.5-litre, three-cylinder Ecoboost turbo petrol motor is housed beneath the elongated bonnet. This range-topping turbocharged engine is the most powerful offering at present, developing 180bhp at 6000rpm and 177lb ft of torque from 1600rpm, all of which is deployed to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. A 123bhp 1.0-litre petrol motor is also available, as are 1.5- and 2.0-litre diesel powerplants.

Customers can elect to have any of the engines, save the very top and bottom petrol options, paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox instead of a manual should they choose. Ford claims a kerb weight of 1369kg for our test model. We weighed it at 1417kg, the mass distributed 59:41 front to rear.

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