by Seán Creedon

The Ford Focus has been a very popular car with Irish motorists since it was launched here in  1999.

Over the past 20 years the car has won many awards in mainland Europe and in Ireland also. Over two decades 129,000 units of the Focus have been sold here.

A new version of the Focus was introduced to the Irish market in September last year and a few months later it was named as the Small Compact Car of the Year.

The Focus was only beaten by a few votes for the overall Continental Irish Car of the Year prize by the Volvo XC40.

Figures released by SIMI for the month of January show that the Focus was third best seller so far this year, behind two SUV’s the Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai.

When we were in Spain last year for the launch of Ford’s new Eco Sport, their design staff were very excited about the new Focus. Yet when the car came to Ireland I didn’t think there was that much of a change, but maybe I was in the minority.

Naturally there are external and internal improvements to what is the fourth generation of the Focus with a new grille and new rear lights. The letters ‘Focus’ are now spelt out on the door of the boot which looks really good.

You now get an automatic hand-brake rather than the old-fashioned type, but otherwise at a first glance the car looks pretty much like the previous version.

You may remember the first versions of the Focus from 20 years ago when the most popular colour seemed to be silver. I was one of the many drivers who started the new millennium in silver Focus. You still see a lot of those silver cars on Irish roads, which proves how durable and reliable the Focus is.

This time my test car came in Diffused Silver, which looked great and costs an extra €600. The interior was very dark and could have done with a touch of colour. One of the changes to the interior is that you now get an infotainment screen on the dash.

My daughter has been driving a Focus for the past four years. She thinks it’s a bit thirsty, but having previously driven a Nissan Micra, any car that she would have chosen would probably be thirstier than the Micra.

In 2017 Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine was named Engine of the Year for the sixth year in-a-row, but I still think it’s a bit thirsty. However, it’s a very comfortable motor to travel in. When I sat behind that sporty wheel I really felt at home; it was meeting up with a long lost friend and enjoying their company once again.

The Focus now has a long bonnet and a muscular rear. The seats have also been improved and the really good news is that in the spacious boot you will find a spare wheel and not a dreaded repair kit.

Entry level prices for the regular Focus start at €22,513, while the 1.0-litre Titanium model which has lot of goodies as standard, starts at €24,517. My test car had extras like Luster Nickel 17-inch alloys, Fixed LED headlights, Wireless Charging Pad and that gorgeous Diffused Silver touch.

This classy saloon proves there is more to life than SUVs.