FO­CUS HAS SHIFTED

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six-speed torque con­verter au­to­matic, so buy­ers side­step the dreaded Pow­erShift.

You could be truly rad­i­cal and buy a used Fo­cus with three pedals and man­ual shift.

With the new fourth-gen­er­a­tion Fo­cus due in show­rooms by Novem­ber, plenty of cur­rent own­ers will look to up­grade. Ex­pect their preloved ex­am­ples to flood the clas­si­fieds.

The LZ launched in May 2015 with the sporty ST grade, fol­lowed in Oc­to­ber by the ev­ery­man ver­sions.

Used ex­am­ples (bar very early STs) will have some fac­tory war­ranty re­main­ing if they have cov­ered less than 100,000km.

Choose be­tween a four-door sedan or more pop­u­lar five-door hatch. All have EcoBoost four-cylin­der tur­bos (1.5 or 2.0-litre) and use a six-speed man­ual or six-speed auto gear­box.

The ST, solely a man­ual hatch, had ex­clu­sive use of the tasty 184kW 2.0 turbo en­gine.

We’ll ex­clude the all-wheel drive Fo­cus RS here as its buyer is a to­tally dif­fer­ent type .

En­try level is the Trend hatch and sedan, the lat­ter com­ing only with an auto gear­box, and spec­i­fi­ca­tion is good.

In­cluded are 16-inch al­loys, day­time run­ning lights, rear park­ing sen­sors, cruise con­trol, eight­inch colour touch­screen run­ning Ford’s smart in­fo­tain­ment (post-April 2016 cars get the even bet­ter SYNC3), Blue­tooth, au­dio stream­ing, voice con­trol, sat­nav and rear cam­era.

Next rung up, the Fo­cus Sport hatch lives up to its name with a bodykit, 17-inch al­loys, sports tuned sus­pen­sion, LED tail-lamps, dual zone cli­mate con­trol, am­bi­ent light­ing, leather steer­ing wheel and gear shifter, Sony au­dio, auto lights and wipers, key­less en­try and push­but­ton start.

Lux­ury Ti­ta­nium grade is auto only, adding 18-inch al­loys, front park­ing sen­sors, leather sports seats, blind spot and rear cross traf­fic alert, park­ing as­sist and auto emer­gency brak­ing.

The ST re­ally di­als up the sporti­ness. Its 184kW/345Nm en­gine makes it a gen­uine warm hatch, while it gets gor­geous 18-inch al­loys, red brake calipers and some funky colours in­clud­ing Tan­ger­ine Scream and Race Red.

In­side you find Re­caro par­tial leather sport seats and am­bi­ent light­ing, and some own­ers may have op­tioned a tech­nol­ogy pack ($2000) bring­ing a host of ac­tive safety ex­tras.

Look out for su­per-rare Moun­tune Fo­cus STs for even more oomph. This $4135 fac­tory up­grade fet­tled the en­gine to pro­duce a chunky 202kW/400Nm.

No mat­ter what your choice of Fo­cus, you’ll get as­sured and bal­anced han­dling and sat­is­fy­ing turbo per­for­mance clad in good­look­ing body­work. The ST in par­tic­u­lar is a great value thrill ride.

The dash­board is a lot cleaner and with a higher-tech feel than the older Fo­cus. Rear seat and boot space aren’t huge but should be am­ple for many, in­clud­ing small fam­i­lies.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Such new cars should have full Ford dealer ser­vice his­tory. Aim for one with less than 100,000km to get the re­main­ing war­ranty.

Test drive over a va­ri­ety of road sur­faces. The Fo­cus’s ex­cel­lent han­dling is in part down to quite stiff sus­pen­sion, so harsh bumps are re­ally felt in the cabin, espe­cially on the higher grades’ big­ger wheels and lower pro­file tyres.

En­sure you can tol­er­ate the ride — and the cabin noise, which is a bit louder than some core ri­vals.

Some own­ers re­port the turbo en­gines are thirstier than Ford’s quoted fig­ures and, as it rec­om­mends at least 95RON, it won’t be the cheap­est car to run.

There are some hard plas­tics in the cabin and in­stances of trim com­ing away in places. Check all is per­fectly screwed to­gether in any po­ten­tial pur­chase.

If you’re shop­ping for an ST, re­mem­ber some will have been bought by Dan Ric­cia­rdo wannabes. Check tyre wear, ex­ces­sive brake dust on the al­loys and any dodgy noises from the en­gine, gear­box and un­der­neath sug­gest­ing it’s been thrashed. A spe­cial­ist me­chan­i­cal check would be a wise in­vest­ment.

Au­to­matic cars don’t have steer­ing wheel pad­dle-shifters, so don’t ne­glect the man­ual ver­sions for a more en­gag­ing drive.

Re­li­a­bil­ity over­all has been very good (as you would ex­pect from such re­cent arrivals) but check any man­ual MY15 and M16 Fo­cus you’re con­sid­er­ing was re­called in May for a clutch as­sem­bly fix.

IAIN SAYS

Af­ter the disas­trous Pow­erShift saga in pre2015 cars, th­ese un­af­fected LZ mod­els have re­stored the badge’s rep­u­ta­tion and are far bet­ter used buys.

All are fun to drive and have de­cent spec­i­fi­ca­tion, so even en­try-level Trends are a fine choice. Move up the grades and you get real sporti­ness and lux­ury. ST mod­els are true per­for­mance bar­gains.

Don’t pay too much for th­ese still young Fo­cuses. The new higher-spec gen­er­a­tion will be here in a cou­ple of months (prob­a­bly from $23K) with a new five-year war­ranty.

OWN­ERS SAY

ANNE SCOTT: We have a 2017 Trend sedan which we bought to down­size from a larger car, and find it a good choice for we “young pen­sion­ers,” espe­cially for park­ing. It’s com­pact, drives great, has good ac­cel­er­a­tion and ma­noeu­vres well. There’s good out­ward vi­sion and enough room in the boot. STEPHEN: My2016 Ti­ta­nium hatch is very smooth and re­fined to drive. The en­gine re­minds me of a torquey Ford six, plus it’s very eco­nom­i­cal. The ride is firm on the 18-inch wheels with very low-pro­file tyres. The SYNC3 in­fo­tain­ment and eight-inch screen are su­perb. No re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues so far, but it is early days. I’m sur­prised they don’t sell more.

USED CAR

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