2019 Ford Focus Range Review

2019 Ford Focus Range Review

Priced From $25,990Information

Overall Rating


4.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
Expand Section

Safety, value & features

5 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

5 out of 5 stars


5 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProGreat to drive; loads of features; excellent safety and tech

  2. ConBland interior; harder ride in big-wheeled Titanium

  3. The Pick: 2019 Ford Focus ST-Line 4D Hatchback

What stands out?

Expand Section

While the latest Focus’ engine has one-less cylinder than the previous generation’s, it’s still one of the most rewarding small cars to drive with excellent accelerator response, responsive steering and great handling. Hatch and wagon versions are available, all of which are equipped with autonomous emergency braking. An eight-speed automatic transmission is also standard.

What might bug me?

Expand Section

Forgetting what gear you’re in when using the fiddly rotary-dial shifter

Driving at 80km/h on the space-saver spare until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.

Seeing other small cars and realising your Focus has a relatively bland interior finish.

What body styles are there?

Expand Section

Five-door hatch and four-door wagon.

Every Focus but drives its front wheels.

The Focus is classed as a small car, lower priced.

What features do all Focuses have?

Expand Section

Cruise control, with a speed-limit function (which allows you to set an upper limit that avoids speeding fines). A 180-degree reversing camera, and rear parking sensors.

Autonomous emergency braking that also stops to prevent or mitigate impact with pedestrians and cyclists.

Lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning.

A leather-wrapped steering wheel that is adjustable for height and reach and carries paddle shifters to manually change gears, and has buttons for operating the cruise control, the sound system and your phone.

An 8.0-inch colour central screen. Satellite-navigation, with voice activation (that actually works).

A sound system with an AM/FM/Digital (DAB+) radio, CD player, USB and iPod inputs, Bluetooth connectivity and at least six speakers.

Voice controlled phone calls and music selection, via Ford’s excellent SYNC3 infotainment system. Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which allow you to display some smartphone apps on the touchscreen and control them from there.

LED daytime running lights, headlights that can automatically turn on when it gets dark, and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Wheels made from aluminium alloy, which look nicer than steel wheels with plastic covers and usually are lighter (and hold the road better).

Hill launch assist, which controls the brakes automatically to help you start from rest on a slope.

Electronic parking brake that frees up space on the centre console, and a space-saving spare tyre.

Electronic stability control, which can help control a skid. All new cars must have this feature.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

Expand Section

You can only get one engine in a Ford Focus; a highly efficient 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged (what Ford calls EcoBoost) petrol engine that is mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

It has one less cylinder than the 1.5-litre petrol engine in the previous-generation Focus, however the turbocharger means it has about the same power.

This powertrain consumes as little as 6.4 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined).

In the real world, you can expect it to use quite a bit more than that, but you should still find it rather efficient. Wheels magazine tested the Ford Focus ST-Line hatch against three key rivals, which saw it average 7.5 litres/100km, which was about 1.0L/100km more efficient than the others.

The Focus has an auto stop-start system that cut fuel use in the city. It switches off the engine when you come to a halt, and restart it when you press the accelerator to drive away.

A powerful, performance-orientated Focus ST version is expected to arrive in Australia in early 2020 boasting a 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

Expand Section

The least expensive Focus is the Trend, which rolls on 16-inch alloy wheels and has cloth seat trim.

Spend more for the Focus ST-Line and you get bigger and arguably more stylish 17-inch wheels, and firmer suspension for more stable handling.

Available as a hatch or wagon, the ST-Line also has dual-zone climate control (which allows the driver and front passenger to choose different cabin temperatures), a wireless phone-charging pad, LED fog- and tail-lamps, auto-folding and heated door mirrors, puddle lamps, tyre-pressure monitor, and a smart key that allows you to unlock and start the car without removing the key from your pocket or bag.

The ST-Line is also features sporty exterior trim features including a body-kit with side skirts, chrome twin tailpipes, while the interior gains a flat-bottomed steering wheel, metal foot pedals.

The ST-Line wagon costs about $2000 more than the hatch, and also comes with roof rails and easy folding rear seats. It also has more advanced independent rear suspension.

The SUV-inspired Focus Active wagon is similarly equipped to the ST-Line wagon minus the sporty garnish. It has a higher ride height and multi-link rear suspension and is equipped with Trail and Slippery driving mode to help negotiate rougher surfaces and roads with poor traction due to snow and ice.

Opt for the most expensive Focus, the Titanium, and the wheels grow to 18 inches and are fitted with significantly wider tyres of a lower profile, adding grip and sharpening steering response. The driver’s seat is power-adjustable, and all seats are trimmed partly in leather and heated. You also get chrome exterior trim, adaptive LED headlights, nine-speaker premium sound system with subwoofer and variable colour LED ambient interior lighting.

The Focus Titanium also offers additional active safety features including adaptive cruise control with ‘stop and go’ function that works in heavy traffic, blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert. These are available in the other Focus versions as part of an optional Driver Assistance Pack that costs about $1250.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

Expand Section

The lower profile tyres on cars with bigger wheels can ride more roughly because there is less cushioning air between the wheel and the road. This is particularly noticeable on the Titanium’s 18-inch rubber.

Only one colour, Frozen White, comes for no additional cost. The rest all bring a premium of about $650.

How comfortable is the Ford Focus?

Expand Section

The roomy interior design is clutter free and intuitively designed. The dashboard design is a big improvement over the previous model, with the bulky central head unit replaced by a floating 8.0-inch touchscreen that display’s Ford’s very user friendly Sync3 infotainment system.

The smaller dashboard frees up interior space, which gives the Focus excellent leg room. It all looks a little bland though, unless you like everything black, and the gauge cluster looks like it was borrowed from a truck.

The cloth front seats are pretty basic but are comfortable enough with good back support. You’d expect more sporty seats in the ST-Line, but apart from some red stitching the seats seem exactly like the Trend’s and lack decent side bolstering as found in other sporty hatches.

On the plus side the ride is generally comfortable, even on the ST-Line hatchback’s firmer sports suspension. The decision to give the ST-Line relatively small 17-inch wheels instead of the 18s that most of its rivals roll on pays off with a smooth and quiet ride.

It’s a different story in the Titanium whose 18-inch wheel and (quality Michelin Pilot Sport) tyre package results in an unwelcome, uncharacteristic firmness that brings lumpiness at odds with its upmarket aspirations.

What about safety in a Ford Focus?

Expand Section

Six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, a 180-degree reversing camera, and rear parking sensors, provide a solid safety platform for every Focus.

The top-spec Focus Titanium comes as standard with a Driver Assistance Pack that adds adaptive cruise control that automatically slows down to match the speed of a slower vehicle in front at high and low speeds. The pack also comes with blind-spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert – blind-spot warning flashes a light to let you know when there is a vehicle alongside and behind, in a blind spot. And rear cross-traffic alert helps you avoid driveway and carpark bingles, acting when you are reversing to warn of other vehicles crossing behind you.

The Driver assistance pack can be fitted to the other Focus variants for about $1250.

The Focus’s six airbags include two front and two side inflators to protect the driver and front seat passenger, and side curtain bags on each side to provide side impact protection for all occupants.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Focus its maximum five-star safety rating in December 2018.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

Expand Section

Very likely you will. The Focus has a well-deserved reputation as a car that delights in the corners in this latest-generation model is no different. Steering is accurate and communicative, and the body settles confidently after bumps.

Grip levels on the ST-Line, Active and Titanium versions are high. That is helped by their lower profile tyres, and suspension that reduces leaning in bends compared with the softer Trend.

The 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine is full of life and is rarely found wanting. There’s little turbo-lag when you put the foot down and the eight-speed auto does a nice job shifting through the cogs, with Sport mode holding the revs more.

The ride in the Trend feels controlled but comfortable around town or on the highway, which makes for an enjoyable ride whether it’s a quick trip to the shops or a weekend road trip.

In the ST-Line hatch, the sports suspension provides more dynamic ride and handling that doesn’t come at the expense of comfort around town or on the highway, which makes this a nice all-rounder. And while the ST-Line hatch lacks the multi-link suspension fitted to the wagon, you’re not missing out too much with the current set up.

How is life in the rear seats?

Expand Section

The rear seats in the Focus are comfortable, but lack a centre armrest and their own air vents or USB sockets (though there is a 12-volt socket for device charging).

How is it for carrying stuff?

Expand Section

The Focus hatch carries up to 375 litres, or 273 litres if measured below the cargo cover. Folding the rear seats down frees up a total of 1354 litres.

The wagon’s cargo capacity is a very handy 575 litres, which stretches to 1620 litres with the rear seats down. Wagon versions have easy-fold rear seats that drop the backrests with the flick of a lever.

Where does Ford make this model Focus?

Expand Section

Ford makes the Focus in Germany.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

Expand Section

Perhaps the all-weather security of all-wheel drive – the Subaru Impreza has this, for example.

If you plan on doing a lot of country-road driving, maybe better fuel-efficiency from a diesel engine. The Hyundai i30 and Peugeot 308 offer diesels, for example.

Or possibly a fuel-saving petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain. Toyota offers an excellent hybrid Corolla, and Hyundai with its Ioniq that’s also available with an all-electric version.

Rear air vents for additional passenger comfort, as featured in cats like the i30, Impreza, Kia Cerato, Renault Megane and Volkswagen Golf.

A sedan version as with the Mazda 3, Holden Astra, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Lancer, Cerato and Megane.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

Expand Section

The Focus ST-Line is a very entertaining car if you want something a little sporty.

It gets more aggressive looks and has better balance of ride and handling, making it both liveable and entertaining on a daily basis. Throw in features such as the smart key entry, push-button start and leather-wrapped steering wheel and it justifies the price premium. And it’s the only Focus available in both hatch and wagon body styles.

Are there plans to update the Focus soon?

Expand Section

The current generation Focus went on sale in December 2018 so no facelifts are expected until at least 2021.

The more powerful Focus ST hot hatch is due in the early part of 2020.