We travelled to the south of Spain to drive the new Ford Focus ahead of its November launch writes Suzanne Keane

What is it? The new Ford Focus has been given a fresh new interior and exterior look with a new front end that mirrors the Fiesta and Mondeo and improved fit and finish on the rear.

First impressions of the new Ford Focus? The new Focus has been designed to look more sophisticated and mature with improved fuel economy (on average 8% less CO2 for diesel models and 5.5% less for Petrol versions). Aerodynamics are also improved by underbody shields and active grille shutters.

What about the interior? On first impressions the dashboard is huge but once you start driving you’ll soon forget about this – especially if you splash out for the 8” Touchscreen Sync 2 media system (€600 extra, €1,100 with Sat-Nav included). This system allows for voice control of the A/C, Radio, Phone and Navigation and it actually works in Ireland – although you may find yourself talking like a robot!

Seats are comfortable with plenty of adjustment, there’s a re-sizeable centre console with sliding brackets and a very sporty looking steering wheel – this is also available heated but we didn’t feel the need to test that out in the Spanish sunshine.

And on the road? We drove the 2.0L Diesel Estate (150bhp) and the 1.5 Ecoboost Hatchback (182bhp) – both in 6 speed manual. Engine options for the Irish market will include 1.6 (1.5 from March 2015) and 2.0 diesel options and a 1.0 Ecoboost Petrol – the 1.5 Ecoboost engine will be available to order.

Ford Focus and the city: The Focus is agile in both guises which makes it an easy car to drive around town. Pair this with an 11m turning circle and the optional Active Parking Assist (for both parallel and perpendicular spaces) and its effortless. If parking isn’t your strong point there’s also the extra “Park Out Assist” which will manoeuvre you out of a tight parallel parking space.

Focus and the open road: The Mountains around Malaga made for an excellent test track and the Focus was certainly up to the job. Both the 2.0L Common Rail Diesel and 1.5 Ecoboost were well able for the challenge and the new Focus was designed with enhanced agility and precision in mind.

Suspension wise this generation of Focus has undergone many adjustments to improve the driving experience including thicker engine bay brackets, upgraded shock absorbers, stiffer bushes and stronger welds.

Despite the improvements to the structure of the front end it doesn’t feel too rough on country roads and is very steady on Motorways. Cabin noise has also been reduced through improved sound deadening in the wheel arches, mirror hinges, door trims, tailgate and carpet.

How Much? The new Ford Focus will start at €20,295 and will come with a 5 year 100,000km warranty.

How Safe? This is where the optional extras really come in. Cross Traffic Alert will recognise oncoming vehicles in a 40m range when pulling out of a parking space and Active City Stop will prevent a slow speed collision. Enhanced Transitional Stability technology intervenes with moderate stabilisation braking when it senses an avoidance manoeuvre.

What about my options? There will be 4 spec levels available when the Focus is launched. Focus, Focus Style, Zetec and Titanium.

Focus comes with ESP with Hill-Launch Assist, MyKey Gen 2, colour coded bumpers, electric front windows and mirrors, tyre pressure monitoring and capless refuelling. Style will have all of the above along with A/C, SYNC, CD Player & USB Connectivity, Heated Mirrors, a leather gear knob and 16” alloys. Zetec will upgrade you further with front fogs, sports suspension, armrest and sporty front seats and the top level Titanium will get you different alloys, keyless start, cruise control, dual zone A/C and electric windows in the back.

(Collision avoidance will come in at approximately €600 extra)

3 words to describe the Ford Focus: Practical, Reliable, Fun

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