The Ford Focus Mk 3 was released in the UK back in 2011 to great reviews – quality and dependability were the key characteristics for this generation of Focus. There are plenty within the range to choose from too, from the small and economical 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol to the high-performance ST hatch with powerful 2.0-litre petrol (or diesel) engine that came onto the market in late 2014.

There are plenty about on UK roads, the Focus regularly reaches the top five most popular cars – often outselling the outstanding Hyundai i30. It’s frequently playing switcheroo for pole position with rivals Kia Cee’d, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra too.

The Focus has long been known for its great handling and responsive steering. The Mk 3 remains better than rivals and handles tidily but is slightly disappointing when compared to the earlier Mk 2. Combining inexpensive running costs with safety and nimble driving, this is a hatch that suits small families as well as those looking for a practical hot hatch.

Checking under the Ford Focus’ bonnet

The Focus comes with a huge choice of engines. Starting at the lower end of the petrol range, you have a 1.0-litre Ecoboost three-cylinder motor with 100hp and a top speed of 115mph, there’s also a 1.0-litre with 125hp that’ll move a little quicker – top speed 120mph, which is enough to overtake comfortably.

At the other end of the petrol scale, you have the 1.5-litre Ecoboost four-cylinder engine. This has more punch but also a bigger thirst. With a 6-speed manual transmission and higher-end 182hp ST motor, you’ll reach the heady heights of around 138mph and get from 0 – 62mph in just 8.6 seconds.

If you’re not covering endless miles or planning to drag people off at the lights, the 1.0 three-cylinder is an excellent choice. It’ll be light on your pocket and quick enough on journeys around town.

The diesel varieties also have a wide range to choose from. The 1.5-litre Econetic is exceedingly economical while remaining satisfyingly powerful. If you want more oomph, the 118bhp has more get up and go, while the 2.0-litre is a swift performer with a good balance between speed and economy.

Inside the Ford Focus

Trim levels with Ford are often quite generous and this is again the case with the Ford Focus. Most models get aircon, alloy wheels, digital radio, USB port and Bluetooth connectivity.

Initially, the Mk3 Ford Focus came in Edge, Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X trim levels. With the later stage model facelifts and the addition of an electric model came a few more trim styles to choose from – Style and Zetec S were added to the range.

As far as comfort goes, the Focus’s interior gets top marks – seats are comfy and supportive, with plenty of adjustability to find your ultimate driving position. Noise has been well contained to deliver a calm cockpit relatively free from unwanted road or engine noise.

Tech is in good supply too – all models above the entry-level Studio get an easy to use 8” touch screen in the centre console. When loaded with SYNC 2 you’ll get lots of cool features; voice controls, a Michelin travel guide and automatic indexing of music so you can reach tunes on all of your devices in the car.

Instructions for the infotainment system can be accessed online if the car manual is missing these details.

Focus on these potential problems before you negotiate

As a used car buy, the Ford Focus is generally a winner. However, with all used cars it’s worth keeping your eyes open for the types of issues that have developed with the Mk3 over its life.

Creaking front suspension on rolling roads and as you go over speed bumps indicates there may be an issue with dry brushes – nothing sinister or expensive but a good bargaining point if you do choose to make an offer.

Windscreens can have failed bonding, this shows up as a crunching sound, damp smell and wet patches on the carpet, so use all your senses when checking the interior over, particularly in the front.

Steering should be checked with a spin to full lock in both directions when the car is parked – clunking or twanging noises will expose a broken front coil spring. This isn’t a huge expense, but again, a bargaining chip if you do begin negotiations.

Look over the Ford Focus’ body – poor repairs will show up most easily around lamp edges and inside the filler flap is the best place for giveaway signs of respray work.

Generally, this make of Focus was a practical and low maintenance cost vehicle. We recommend the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol for buyers looking for a reliable around town run-about.

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