Ford Focus ST-Line X

1.5 TDCI Auto

Ford Focus, front action 2
Ford Focus, front action 3
Ford Focus, front action 4
Ford Focus, front action
Ford Focus, front static
Ford Focus, dashboard
Ford Focus, rear action
Ford Focus, side action

VERY few cars stick in the mind of someone who drives dozens of them each year; some better than others, some instantly forgettable.

The original Ford Focus was one of the few whose first drive is recalled vividly, from 1998. It was a game changer for anyone who enjoys the act of driving.

It meant that every succeeding Focus - we're now on the newly minted fourth generation - has a lot to live up to and, honestly, rather stiffer opposition too.

So, here's the good news. A bit bigger and roomier than ever it may be, but the latest Focus is still a class leader in the fun factor league.

Tried here in (very) mildly sporty ST-Line form, which means a slightly lower and firmer suspension but nothing extra under the bonnet, the Focus can still make the winding road home something to anticipate with relish.

Yes, even as here with a diesel doing the work and an automatic gearbox pushing the power to the front wheels.

Give the car a gentle poke with the proverbial sharp stick and it will fairly gallop along, and show an encouraging 44mpg average for your efforts.

It also feels lively and responsive in corners, a lot like that now aged first of the line from the last century, in fact.

But what of the newcomer's approach to the switched on high-tech world of today? Where cars are judged (and rejected) before a wheel is turned and an Internet search can mean an instant thumbs down.

Well, depending on which version you choose, or which options' box you tick, the electronics could include adaptive cruise control with radar that will bring the car to a standstill, a self-parking system where you simply control the pedals and lane keeping assist that gently keeps you between the white lines.

If you find this latter feature annoying it can be switched off, while you decide instead when to move across the lane, probably on a deserted country lane with open views when you're enjoying yourself.

On a more practical level, the newest Focus has found enough space in the back seat for a couple of lanky adults to enjoy the ride and the boot is plenty big enough for family duties. Be warned, though, that specifying the fine (£350) Bose sound system means the bass speaker takes the place of a full size spare wheel.

Ford has, thankfully, kept buttons and knobs for features like adjusting the audio and heating while giving the cabin a touchscreen feel elsewhere. It looks classy enough, if not something to give a Golf a sleepless night.

Prices start at £18,300 which puts the test car towards the top of the pile, but there's plenty on show for your monthly PCP payment.

Highlights include big 18ins alloy wheels, heated front seats (the driver's electrically adjustable), a navigation system, part leather trim with red stitching and front and rear parking sensors.

FAST FACTS

Ford Focus ST-Line X 1.5 TDCI Auto

Price: £26,700

Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,499cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 120mph

0-62mph: 10.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 64.2

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions: 105g/km

Bik rating: 25%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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