Disappointingly, every petrol Focus bar the ST now comes with a twist-beam rear axle; the 1.5 Ecoboost used to come with a fully independent double-wishbone backside. However, it doesn’t make it feel rudimentary, like you might imagine. In fact, a senior Ford executive told us at the original launch that the only real difference between the set-ups was more noticeable impacts over potholes, and I can’t really argue with that.

On the modest 16in wheels and delightfully tall-sidewall tyres of second-rung Titanium trim, the ride remains comfortable in the primary sense, although the secondary sensations are still rather jittery over the poor surfaces that are all too common on British roads.

It never crashes alarmingly or becomes harsh, though – certainly not compared with something like a Mini Cooper. It means that after a while you get used to the way the Focus makes steady progress and the perception of those slightly rougher edges quickly fades into the back of your consciousness. Equally, it’s nothing like the supremely wafty new DS 4, being noticeably firmer than even the Skoda Octavia, although the payoff is of course sporty handling.

On the subject of which, the steering is surprisingly light. I recall it taking on a meatier feel in the sportier ST-Line version (which incidentally is pictured here with its side skirts, faux rear diffuser and chubbier steering wheel and red stitching) yet it still suits the character of the Focus here, being perfectly accurate and giving more feedback than we’re used to nowadays – meaning that there is some.

Dive into an inviting corner and the chassis responds without hesitation, thereafter keeping to your chosen line obediently, making B-road blats a real blast. Plus ça change – pour de bon. Unabated too is the slight over-sensitivity when you’re trying to effortlessly track straight on the motorway, but hey ho. Modern Ford’s hallmark elasticity in the steering motion also remains; you will either love this or find it too caricatured.

The general sense of engagement is heightened further by the presence of a third pedal and a stick protruding from the centre console. These amazing interlinked devices, the likes of which today feel very novel indeed, allow you to change between gear ratios yourself, either up or down, rather than simply crushing the accelerator pedal and letting a computer do that for you. It’s a wonder that this idea hasn’t caught on, even if it does make slow-moving traffic even more annoying to be stuck in…


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