In the beginning there was a road and it was good, but too empty. ‘What shall we fill this with?’ came the question. And the answer? It was the Ford, and the Ford was a Escort. And for a time the people were happy, but soon there was discontent. ‘Why must we have such a bland Ford?’ Asked the people, ‘Surely Ford can do better? They continued. The mighty Ford listened to their plea and did try harder. And the new Ford was a Focus. The rather unassuming hatchback has become the default choice for many and a car against which everything else is measured, in fact the Focus could and indeed is, the hatchback that encompasses all that a family car should represent.
So we find ourselves looking, in this instance, at the ubiquitous 2013 Ford Focus, a zenith for car design that for most consumers represents everything that they want and need in a car. It reviewed exceptionally well as expected, building upon the good work and goodwill of the previous editions way back to the original Mark 1 of 1998. Auto Express stated: For the first time, the Focus gets electric power-steering and torque vectoring. The former is more efficient than a regular hydraulic set-up and helps to save fuel, while the latter subtly brakes the driven wheels to mimic a limited-slip differential. Whilst Parkers said: This, the third-generation Focus shouldn’t really be any different, and although the design is a fairly sizeable departure from its predecessor, it is easily recognisable as a Focus: Ford has played it pretty safe. The engine line-up remains much the same, except for the addition of a 1.6-litre Ecoboost unit offering 147bhp and 180bhp outputs. The new car’s longer, but it is lower, which helps to keep CO2 emissions down and there’s also a long list of new active safety features available. And finally, What Car? Went with: The latest Focus only enhances Ford’s reputation for building brilliant driving motorcars. All models are well equipped and competitively priced.
What Ford have always been good at is providing the public with a model range that includes something for everyone and the Focus is perhaps the zenith of this approach to car design, you could even argue that Ford’s approach to globalisation and reducing the number of platforms upon which they design and build their cars is a direct result of the marque’s success with the Focus.
The car itself is consistently at the top of the UK bestseller lists and has been for quite some time, no doubt because the Focus comes in five door hatchback or estate forms and an engine range that includes a 1.6-litre petrol, 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol and 1.5-litre TDCi diesel. The car buying public could also choose Ford’s award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder turbo petrol in two power outputs. The Focus ST high-performance hatch is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo petrol, with a 2.0-litre diesel being offered from late 2014.
The Ford Focus is also available with a near infinite mix of specifications and options with the different levels named Studio, Zetec, Zetec S, Titanium, Titanium X and ST hot hatchback trims. The entry level Studio is pretty basic, as expected and doesn’t get an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but does have alloy wheels, air con and a USB port. Zetec, as always, is the pick of the range adding a DAB radio, a Bluetooth phone connection and a Quickclear windscreen that demists fast and if you want the sporty looks of the ST but without the higher running costs, then the Zetec S is a good alternative, as it includes large wheels and a bodykit and looks fantastic in my opinion.
But before we get too full of ourselves and the air of goodness that surrounds this 2013 Ford Focus model range, it’s important to find out what exactly you should be looking out for if this car rather takes your fancy. After all, in the three and a bit years since launch, there’s been plenty of time for those in the know to collect together information regarding some of the common faults that the buyer should be looking out for. Firstly though, the price. A quick flick through the classifieds will show up a great swathe of 2013 model year Focus from £5,000-£10,000 and an equally varied range of mileages from a few thousand right up to around 125,000 miles with the obvious problems of wear and tear on the consumables, suspension and steering components although rust does not seem to be a common occurrence on our favoured 2013 Focus. My choice? I’d go in the middle with a £7,500 1.0 125ps EcoBoost Titanium with all the toys and around 40,000 on the odometer. Just about run in.
1. The Focus came 55th out of 109 cars in the 2014 JD Power customer satisfaction survey, almost exactly half way down the field and a score that suggests it’ll be less reliable than a Seat Leon, a VW Golf or a Skoda Octavia, but more so than a Vauxhall Astra or a Hyundai i30, you make your bed etc.
2. An obvious issue but one that is often overlooked in the name of style is that larger alloy wheels reduce ride quality and comfort and the Focus is no different. So make sure your wheels stay between 16-18″ maximum and no low profile tyres please.
3. Due to problems with Powershift dry clutch packs, Ford has dropped the 6-speed dry clutch Powershift on Focus models. The Focus 1.5 TDCI 120PS, Focus 2.0 TDCI 150PS and Focus 1.6 petrol 125PS are available with 6-speed wet clutch Powershifts. While the Focus 1.0T EcoBoost 125PS and 1.5T EcoBoost 150PS come with conventional 6 speed torque converter automatics so be careful and check what you’re looking at.
4. Reports of 1.0 Ecoboost turbo failures seem to be the result of owners switching the engines off when the turbos are too hot. Though water-cooled, these turbos need to be idled for at least 20 seconds before switching off, and longer if the car has just completed a long ascent or the engine has been revved hard.
5. There have been reports of interior trim coming away and of white smudges forming on exterior chrome trim. Scuffed trim is also a problem.
6. Not a issue as such but certainly something the prospective owner should be aware of is that, rather disappointingly, the boot is pretty small when you compare it with the boots in rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra and VW Golf, let alone the Skoda Octavia. There’s also a fairly large drop down from the edge of the boot to the boot floor, which can make it awkward to load heavy items.
Keep your wits about you, follow all of the normal advice about buying a second hand car and the 2013 Ford Focus should provide you with many, many miles of driving for relatively little outlay. It’s reasonably economical depending on engine choices, good looking, practical and safe. After all, according to the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Ford sold 54,904 in the UK During 2013 and you don’t manage that without having a pretty good car to start with.
Where will you go?