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Focus Ireland Ford’s hatchback is hugely important for the popular car manufacturer

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The Focus is still as good as it gets in the handling stakes

The Focus is still as good as it gets in the handling stakes

The Focus is still as good as it gets in the handling stakes

DESPITE a massive pendulum swing in the direction of family SUVs these days, the Focus hatchback still remains a very important cog in the Ford Europe wheel.

It has only recently been overtaken by its Puma stablemate when it comes to sales here, and has only in the last year or two slipped outside the top 10 models in the Irish charts.

To date, Ford Ireland has sold close to 600 models of the ever-popular model and I can still see why.

On the outside, there were very few changes to the test model I had for the week. A new look has been saved for later on this year, when the Focus will be further enhanced with new lights, a new grille and a sharper look.

This model was all about the new-and-improved engine and technology that have been treated to Ford’s magic touch.

First off, Ford has introduced sophisticated 48-volt mild hybrid technology that enables the new Focus 1.0-litre Eco-Boost Hybrid to deliver 155bhp alongside 93g/km CO2 emissions.

This represents a 17 per cent fuel-efficiency improvement compared with the outgoing equivalent combination of 150bhp 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and six-speed manual gearbox.

With petrol prices hitting all-time highs, the fuel savings come at a very important time for potential customers.

On top of that, this small Ford 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine remains one of the best on the market and has won many awards over the last number of years – even before this new improved version was built.

In addition to the new electrified powertrain option, the enhanced Focus also delivers a more premium driver experience with a new ‘true colour’ 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, and the improved connectivity and ownership experience enabled by a standard FordPass Connect modem.

My test model was fitted with an 8-inch touchscreen with Ford’s SYNC 3 voice-activated connectivity system.

However, the new model, which we will hopefully review later this year, features a new 13.2-inch touchscreen with Ford’s new SYNC 4 technology featuring wireless phone charging with Apple/Android connectivity.

The new touchscreen replaces all the traditional buttons that control the heating and air conditioning.

On the road, the Ford Focus is still as good as it gets when it comes to the drive and handling.

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It was actually quite nice to drive a car with an old-school manual gearbox for a change – I can’t remember the last time I had a test car that wasn’t automatic.

We will bring you all the updates on the new Focus when we get behind the wheel of the refreshed model later this year.

Meanwhile, in last week’s piece about Ford, I wrote that Bright Ford in Rialto, Dublin, was to close its doors and be replaced by a supermarket chain.

The team at Bright Ford have asked me to clarify that the dealership will remain open for business until December 2023 before it is razed to the ground.

From then on, the dealership will move to a new dedicated facility which the company are in the process of building.

Customers will also be able to visit Bright Ford dealerships in Phibsborough, Airside and Bray, Co. Wicklow.

It looks as though the dealerships have a ‘Bright’ future ahead for many years to come.

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