Fine-driving Ford Focus family favourite

As Ford launches the all-new Focus Iain Dooley checks out the previous version of the popular hatchback.

Engines – Although it might feel as if the Focus has been around for years – in reality it has – engine development never stood still. This generation of Focus boasts some of Ford's finest engines, with the quiet and refined petrol motors perfectly complementing the more frugal and tax-friendly diesel units.

Exterior – It might have grown in size over the years but, from the outside, this car remains unmistakably a Focus. A little chunkier around the edges, this Focus has lost none of the original's charm.

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Interior – In contrast to the stark and minimalist interior of the first Focus, this model presents a more welcoming and engaging interior to its occupants. Build and material quality levels are also improved, and there's no shortage of space for passengers fore and aft.

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Driving – Still the same engaging and enjoyable car to drive, it's these qualities that set the Focus apart from its many rivals. And even if you're not a super-keen driver, the Focus is capable of delivering an easy-going, refined experience for those long motorway journeys.

Ownership – The Focus is one of those cars that slips seamlessly into your life. Easy to drive and own and boasting the support of a huge dealer network, this is one of those rare, vice and quirk-free cars that will always bring a smile to your face.

What to look for – Typical of being such a popular car, there's no shortage of choice and, crucially, condition to choose from. For something this new there's no excuse for a missing service history. If it was a company car it might be a detailed print out, but at least it's a credible record. Parking dents and kerbed wheels are a fact of life, but they could also be hiding more serious damage. Likewise, cabin trim should be spotless – tears, cracks and cigarette burns should have you walking away.

Model history – 2005, Ford introduces second-generation Focus hatchback with a wide choice of both petrol and diesel engines. Three and five-door bodystyles available plus a good selection of standard and optional equipment. 2006 saw ST performance and CC convertible variants launched. Hot RS variant appeared in 2009.

Reasons to buy – No shortage of choice, a proven performer, extensive dealer support, good to drive, easy on the eye.

Reasons to beware – Used and abused cars, everyone has got one, not a long-term investment.

Pick of the range – Focus 1.6 Zetec five-door.

What to pay – 2005 55 �5,250; 2006 06 �5,775; 2007 07 �6,575; 2008 08 �8,250; 2009 09 �9,725; 2010 10 �11,275.

Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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