Ford Focus is getting a facelift, but can it still do magic?

Hatchbacks used to be a thing – a real thing. It all started in 1974 with the VW Golf – a spacious front-wheel drive replacement for the mighty Beetle.

pel quickly followed with their new cadet, but it would be almost two decades before the next biggest player entered the race.

With the demise of the Escort, Ford — then in make-or-break mode — bet the house on its new offering called the Focus.

Launched in 1998, the first German-designed three-door took the car world by storm, winning European Car of the Year in its first 12 months of production.

The designers and tinkerers behind the Blue Oval badge hit the jackpot with a sweet mix of driving dynamics, practicality and build quality that continued in the five-door and sedan versions.

I had both a petrol and a diesel with a trunk. My only complaint was that the 40 liter tank in the oil burner meant more stops at the pump, but I absolutely loved it and enjoyed many years of trouble free class driving.

Now in its fourth generation, the Focus gets a mid-life refresh. The most noticeable change is the front, where it gets a more prominent grille and the Ford name takes pride of place in the top center.

The honeycomb styling is further enhanced by narrower LED headlights and nearly matching aluminum-colored air intakes in the lower fascia.

It’s similar at the rear, with new light clusters that emphasize the clean lines in the tailgate. Chic new 16-inch alloy wheels contribute to the attractiveness of the curb, as does the sporty ST-Line equipment. Inside, the magic begins to unfold, with quilted leather sport seats (option), chunky three-spoke steering wheel (both heated) and piano black inserts in the upper doors and dashboard.

The showpiece, however, is the gigantic 13.5-inch high-definition display that houses the infotainment system and is powered by Ford’s SYNC 4 software.

The graphics are crystal clear and the menus are easy to navigate and user friendly. The screen can be divided into three parts, so you can stream sat nav, phone and music at the same time.

The instrument cluster is also fully digital. As if that wasn’t enough, our test car came with a full-color head-up display — a piece of kit you’d normally only get in executive sedans.

There is a choice of petrol, diesel and mild hybrid coupled to either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. We were treated to the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol, which produces 125bhp. On paper these numbers look a bit underpowered, but I can assure you they are not.

The peppy little triple has the grunt of a 1.6 and the fun factor of a 2.0 liter. The driving experience is so immersive that you will always choose the long way home – especially when it comes to more challenging country roads.

The Focus’s agility, handling and unwavering composure are further enhanced by the lowered suspension (10mm lower in ST-Line specification), while the grip and pinpoint precision in tight corners are enhanced by the larger 18-inch rims and low-profile tires be increased.

Even cruising the Autobahn you could barely hear the engine running, the only little giveaway being the higher than usual revs, which tipped to 2,800 rpm at 120 km/h.

Even then, it was returning at about 50 mph (5.6 litres/100 km).

They say you can’t improve on perfection, but I think Ford has done just that with the latest Focus. It has all the magic of the past and more.

Who says the hatchback is dead? The new Ford Focus starts at 32,541 euros. Ford Focus is getting a facelift, but can it still do magic?

Fry Electronics Team

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