The Ford Focus has been around since the turn of the millennium when the bug-eyed first generation car debuted in North America for the 2000 model year. Since then, the Focus has become one of the most popular C-segment vehicles in the country. Beyond our borders, the Focus has conquered nearly every land, becoming one of the best-selling nameplates in the automotive business. Needless to say, the Focus is a big seller for Ford.

As the 2015 model year approached, Ford gave the Focus, now in its third generation, a welcomed refresh. The new corporate grille and slimline headlights give the Focus a more aggressive appearance, while interior enhancements brought increases levels of comfort and upgraded technology. These updates replaced the Focus’ first global design. Before the 2011 model year, the Focus wore different bodywork between the U.S. and European markets.

So what’s the 2015 Focus all about? Well after spending a week behind the wheel of a five-door hatchback version powered by the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, it boils down to an economical, yet fun car that’s no penalty box to drive. Its upscale looks help it stand out, especially coated in this “Race Red” hue. Keep reading for more.

Continue reading for the full driven review

  • 2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    160 @ 6500
  • MPG(Cty):
    26
  • MPG(Hwy):
    38
  • Torque @ RPM:
    146 @ 4500
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    9.0 sec.
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; Front Drive
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Walk-Around Video


Exterior

2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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Ford’s new corporate look for its cars strikes a rather aggressive pose on the Focus. The Aston Martin-style grille and chiseled headlights look modern and mean. The front really gives the Focus a more macho attitude. Around the sides, the profile of the hatchback is attractive. That’s not easy to say about most five-door cars, but the Focus somehow pulls off the look well. Accented bodylines in the side doors bring extra interest down low.

Accented bodylines in the side doors bring extra interest down low.

The optional SE Sport Package found on my tester adds the 17-inch machined aluminum wheels with black-painted pockets, fog lamps, and a rear spoiler, along with a full body kit that includes a front lower valance and chin splitter, body-color rocker panels, and a rear diffuser-styled valance. Rear disc brakes and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are also a part of the package.

The Focus has an excited look that plays a big part in helping the Focus break the ho-hum mold of a traditional, boring hatchback. Of course, the interior, powertrain, and driving characteristics further the fun factor. Let’s take a look.

Interior

2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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Everything is placed in easy-to-reach spots and are easy to operate.

The interior strikes a great compromise between high style and high functionality. In other words, it blends form and function into a nice package that works. Up front, the dashboard is typical of Ford cars, with familiar buttons and simple controls. Everything is placed in easy-to-reach spots and are easy to operate. The steering wheel offers redundant controls for the radio, cruise control buttons, and a four-way keypad for controlling the driver information screen between the two main gauges. Those gauges, by the way, are clear and easy to read, though it would be nice if the speedometer didn’t count by a factor of 20 mph. This would make quick glances for speed much easier.

The radio is straight forward, with hard-key butters for presets, volume, tuning, and input source changes. Four buttons just under the screen are tied to digital menu options within the infotainment software.

Comfort levels are on par with vehicles at this price point. The seats are power-operated and give good support, but lack some long-distance comfort. The seat bottoms are a tad short, as well. In back, rear passengers have a decent amount of legroom and headroom. There is no center armrest, but comfort is good nonetheless.

As with any good hatchback, the rear seats fold flat, providing plenty of storage space. A removable cargo shade comes out quickly and allows for obstacle-free loading. It’s not as roomy as an SUV or large crossover, but the Focus hatch does a great job at hauling far more than a sedan.

Drivetrain

2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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Coming standard with the SE Sport Package is the 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder. The all-aluminum, direct fuel injection engine makes 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 146 pound-feet of torque at 4,500. It’s no Focus ST, but the engine provides plenty of grunt to move the 2,948-pound car. The sprint to 60 mph takes nine seconds with the engine happily revving to redline.

Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 26 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined

The engine runs on regular, 87-octain gasoline, but is Flex Fuel compliant, meaning it can run on 85 percent ethanol, or any mixture of gas and ethanol below that limit. Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 26 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined. During my time with the Focus Hatch, I averaged 30.5 mpg.

Ford’s six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission sends torque to the front tires. The tranny has paddle shifters for manual control, but accelerates smoother when the computer does the shifting. The paddles have a somewhat delayed response.

Driving Impressions

2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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Overall driving impressions are good, making the Focus Hatch a fun daily driver.

Behind the wheel, the Focus Hatch was fun to drive. It didn’t surprise nor underwhelm – it simply did its job while putting a smile on my face. The car handles itself well on all but the sharpest of turns, where the Cooper tires start to plow and understeer takes hold. Body roll is managed quite well, however, and fore and aft movements are well suppressed. Brake dive is minimal. Throttle tip-in is minimal, as well, lending to an easy control of acceleration. The transmission, on the other hand, sometimes shuttered while accelerating with any gusto, killing the smooth starts found lower in the powerband.

The steering offered a good feel of the road with minimal kickback or on-center deadness. Visibility is fantastic thanks to the large greenhouse and convex mirrors placed within both exterior side mirrors.

Overall driving impressions are good, making the Focus Hatch a fun daily driver.

Prices

2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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Ford offers four trim levels for the Focus Hatch, with prices starting at $19,015. My tester came in the base SE trim, but was up-optioned with the SE Sport Package and several other options that improved its looks, drivability, and in-cabin technology.

The SE Sport Package costs $1,095, the same price as the six-speed automatic transmission. The other major option listed is the Power Driver’s Seat package at $495.

Add on the $825 destination charge, and the total comes to $22,470.

Competition

Volkswagen Golf

2015 Volkswagen Golf High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Golf has long been a hot contender in the hatchback category. Its reputation is based off its fun-to-drive nature, reliability, and outright functionality. Like the Focus, the Golf offers several trim levels and performance variations, allowing the platform appeal for bargain hunters and speed demons like.

With a starting price right at $21,000, the Golf is accessible to most, yet isn’t a penalty box. The 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder offers up 170 horsepower and the standard five-speed manual brings the fun.

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Golf here.

Scion iM

2016 Scion iM
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The Scion iM is new to the market for the 2016 model year, yet has been around much longer in the form of the Toyota Corolla wagon sold around the globe. Still the iM is the only Corolla-based hatch in the U.S. market. Like its Toyota cousin, the iM offers tons of functionality, but with decreased levels of fun compared to the competition. There is no hot-hatch version with turbos and AWD.

Your choice in drivetrain components is limited to a six-speed manual or CVT. Otherwise, the car comes as-is, powered by a familiar 1.8-liter four-cylinder that makes 137 horsepower.

None of this is to say the iM is a bad car, it just isn’t the sportiest hatchback out there. It is still fun to drive, however, as we experienced in the hills of Santa Monica. (Check out that review here)

The iM follows Scion’s “mono-spec” theme of trim levels, meaning there are no trim levels. Each iM comes with all the equipment already installed. Of course, dealer add-ons are still available and you can still choose the transmission type and exterior body color.

Prices for the iM start at $19,255.

Read our full review on the Scion iM here.

Conclusion

2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven
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The Ford Focus Hatchback is an insanely practical car. It somehow checks all the boxes of needs while hitting a few of the wants – at least on my list. It offers a sporty appearance while providing a decent driving experience. Its fuel economy is impressive, getting 38 mpg on the highway and averaging 30.5 mpg over the week. Its interior volume should make crossover owners question their purchase, while still doling out an ergonomic fit for most people.

While opting for the ST or even the new RS version would be more fun, the standard Focus five-door does a solid job at being a good car. The competition in this segment is strong, but the Focus Hatch seems ready to compete.

  • Leave it
    • * Compromised long-distance comfort
    • * Somewhat noisy at speed
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