Ford Focus is a small-medium European model that has never had the success it deserves in Australia. In its market segment it struggles to sell a tenth of the number of the market leader in its class, the Toyota Corolla. The Mazda3 and Hyundai i30 also trump the Ford by large numbers.
Why? Principally because dual-clutch automatics, sold from 2011 till 2015 had many problems and these led to the complete car being given a poor reputation. See our What To Look For section). The dual-clutch was replaced by a six-speed conventional torque convertor auto in September 2015 as part of a major makeover of the complete range.
Ford Focus is pretty well made these days, though generally not to the extremely high standards of the Asian models.
What Focus does do better than the Asians in providing superior handling and overall driving pleasure. That’s even in the standard models which have attracted quite a few keen drivers. Even better, Focus comes in an impressively large number of sports variants.
Ride comfort is pretty good in the standard cars, however they can be on the harsh side on rough roads. By contrast sports models may be on the firm side for those looking for comfort ahead of handling. Showing its Euro heritage, Focus is very good at high speed on motorways where speed limits are 130km/h.
Focus gen-three arrived in Australia in November 2011 as the LW series. The gen-four, tagged as LZ Focus replaced it in July 2015. The LZ is actually a solid facelift of LW not a full-on new model. Every visible component in front of the windscreen was changed. This resulted slimmer headlights and a sleeker slope of the bonnet. Ford’s signature trapezoidal grille was modified with a sharper look. The rear-end follows the lead of the front, with slimmer lights and modified lines that give the car a wider look when viewed rear on.
Inside the LZ, there’s the latest Ford Sync2 which lets the driver operate the air conditioning, audio system, satellite navigation and a linked smartphone with voice commands.
Aiming to give the Focus a more upmarket image Ford Australia dropped the lower cost Ambiente model.
The LZ no longer had the turbo-diesel option and the non-turbo 1.6-litre petrol engine was replaced with a new design 1.5-litre turbo-petrol, EcoBoost in Ford speak.
These EcoBoost Ford powerplants are high-tech units that are significantly better than previous engines and are well worth finding extra money in your budget.
A virtually all-new Ford Focus arrived in Australia in June 2019. It will be the subject of a later used car review.
Ford is strongly represented in Australian country areas reflecting, in particular, the love of Falcons by buyers in the bush. Dealers in more remote areas may not have spares for the Focus in stock, but can usually get them shipped in within a few working days.
Most routine service work can be done by a competent amateur. Please don’t tackle any safety related items yourself, though. A workshop manual is always a smart investment in any car.
With the exception of the sports models insurance charges are usually moderate.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Check the dual-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission isn’t harsh in its changes and doesn’t slip out of gear. Chances are all will have been rectified by now, but check with a Ford dealer or contact Ford Australia by phoning 13 FORD (133 673).
Make sure the electrical systems are okay by turning everything on and off. The owner’s manual gives you a list of all functions.
Shuddering under braking may indicate warped brake discs.
Scratches on the top of the rear bumper will often indicate that lazy owners used the bumper as support when loading and unloading the boot.
These are often used as family cars so may have suffered the usual harsh treatment dished out by some children. Look for damage to the seats and door trim, as well as carpets.
Previous body repairs may have caused uneven panel work. Sight along the surfaces against the light to see if there are ripples.
Similarly, paint that doesn’t quite match from panel to panel and / or paint overspray on non-coloured surfaces is another sign a car has probably spent time in a repair shop.
Expect to pay from $4000 to $7000 for a 2011 Ford Focus LX; $6000 to $9000 for a 2012 Trend; $8000 to $13,000 for a 2013 Sport or a 2015 Ambiente; $10,000 to $15,000 for a 2014 Titanium; $13,000 to $19,000 for a 2014 ST; $15,000 to $22,000 for a 2015 Titanium; $18,000 to $26,000 for a 2018 Titanium; $19,000 to $27,000 for a 2012 RS; $26,000 to $35,000 for a 2016 RS; and $29,000 to $38,000 for a 2018 RS.
CAR BUYING TIP
Before you go out shopping for a car, try to spend a few weeks looking over adverts and reports on the types cars you’re considering. This can give you an idea of current prices and common faults.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/