Ford Focus

Car Review: Ford Focus (Third Generation 2011-2018)

The Ford Focus has been a popular option for fans of small hatchbacks, but just as the new model arrived on the market, so did a few problems that weren’t resolved for a few years. Check out what went wrong and what to look out for in my wrap-up of Ford’s third generation hatchback.

Ford Focus

The Good

1. The Focus has plenty of safety including front, side and head airbags

2. Responsive and precise steering

3. Updated 2015 to 2018 models have all the earlier model issues fixed

4. Available as a 4 door hatchback or 4-door sedan

5. There are no less than 10 trim levels to choose from over the 7 years of the third generation

6. There are a huge range of engine sizes available in Ecoboost or Duratec, or Duratorq in the diesel option

7. An electric version also started in 2014 for short-distance travel (up to 76 miles in range)

8. The updated 2015 model interior went from a button-lover’s paradise to a more tech-savvy touchscreen while the front end transformed into an edgier look (enhanced across Ford’s range at the time)  

Ford Focus

The Bad

1. The dual-clutch automatic ‘Powershift’ transmission was a big problem between the years 2011-2014. The manual transmission also had its problems

2.  A number of models built between 2012 and early 2013 featuring the 1.0 liter Ecoboost have been known to leak coolant resulting from poor hose quality and fittings

3. Rear corner visibility is poor due to its tapering thick pillars

4. Purchasing a later model 2015-2018 will set you back more money initially than an earlier problematic example (although in the long run less problems to spend fixing)

5. 2011 models also suffered from rust under the bonnet due to issues with the seam sealer allowing water to seep in  

The Essentials

Make sure you get a thorough inspection, especially the leaking coolant and dual-clutch transmission on earlier models up to 2014. This caused a lot of trouble and appalling reliability for the Focus and its reputation. The gears should shift easily and smoothly without any juddering. Check that the gearbox fluids have been changed every third service to ensure less issues crop up. Ford modified and retrofitted a new ‘Degas’ hose to affected cars as part of a scheduled service, so check the service history to make sure this has been done.

The Alternatives

Mazda 3 (2013-2018), Subaru Impreza (2011-2016), Toyota Corolla IM (2017-2018), Volkswagen Golf (2012-2018)

The Verdict

6 out of 10

If you’re considering a Focus of this generation, my recommendation is to avoid the early ‘Powershift’ models and try getting one from 2015 onwards. They modified and changed out both the manual and automatic transmissions in 2015, as well as updated the front end profile to give it an edgier look. The score of six is reflected as an average between the earlier problem-ridden models (which I would give a rating of four), and the more reliable later models (which I would give a rating of eight).

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