The Ford Focus is a compact car  that has been manufactured by Ford Motor Company since 1998. The Focus hatchback body style was first introduced with the original Focus in 1998 and has been a staple of the Focus lineup ever since. The Focus hatchback has gone through several generations and updates over the years. The key generations of the Focus hatchback include:
- First Generation (1998-2004) – The original Focus hatchback that started it all .
- Second Generation (2005-2007) – The Mk1.5 facelift version.
- Third Generation (2008-2011) – A fully redesigned model.
- Fourth Generation (2012-2018) – The Mk3 model with sleeker styling.
- Current Generation (2019-) – The latest high-tech Focus hatchback.
Over its production history, the Focus hatchback has built a reputation for being a fun-to-drive compact car with European-inspired handling and useful cargo space. It has been sold around the world and is credited with increasing Ford’s sales internationally. The Focus shows Ford’s commitment to producing affordable yet desirable compact cars. This article provides an in-depth look at the history and key details of the Ford Focus hatchback model.
First Generation (2000-2004)
The first generation Ford Focus hatchback was introduced in 2000 for the 2001 model year and was produced until 2004. It was offered in three trim levels: SVT, ZX3, and ZX5. The Focus hatchback featured a sporty, aerodynamic exterior design with a sloping roofline.
The base engine was a 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder producing 110 horsepower in the ZX3 trim. The SVT and ZX5 trims featured a more powerful 2.0L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder producing 170 horsepower (Edmunds). Transmission options included a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.
According to Edmunds, key interior features of the 2004 Focus hatchback included standard air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, CD player, and split-folding rear seat. Safety features included front side airbags and optional side curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes.
In an Autoblog review, the first generation Focus hatchback was praised for its sporty handling, fuel efficiency, and affordability. Criticisms included a cramped rear seat and cheap interior materials (Autoblog). The Focus proved popular, selling over 4 million units worldwide in its first generation.
Second Generation (2005-2007)
The second generation Ford Focus hatchback was introduced for the 2005 model year and remained in production through 2007. This generation received several updates compared to the first generation model.
Some of the key new features included (2005 Ford Focus Review, Problems, Reliability, Value, Life …):
- A redesigned exterior with new front and rear fascias
- An upgraded interior with higher quality materials
- More standard safety features like side airbags and ABS brakes
- New option packages such as the Performance Package with a 6-speed manual transmission
Ford also made several mechanical upgrades for the 2005-2007 Focus hatchback (2005-2007 Ford Focus):
- A more powerful 2.0L engine producing 136 hp, up from 130 hp
- A new 5-speed automatic transmission option
- Enhanced steering and suspension tuning for better handling
- More sound insulation for a quieter ride
These improvements helped make the second generation Focus hatchback more refined and competitive in the compact segment while still retaining the fun-to-drive character of the original Focus.
Third Generation (2008-2011)
The third generation Ford Focus was introduced for the 2008 model year, featuring an all-new exterior and interior design. This redesign marked the global unification of the Focus model under a single platform worldwide. Some highlights of the changes included:
New exterior styling with a more aerodynamic shape and redesigned front and rear fascias. The overall dimensions stayed similar to the previous generation, but the wheelbase increased slightly. The redesigned hatchback models featured a sleek roofline and tailgate.
An updated interior with higher quality materials and new technologies like the available Ford Sync infotainment system, rain-sensing wipers, ambient interior lighting, and a back-up camera option.
Under the hood, engine options included an updated 2.0L four-cylinder, as well as new options like the 2.3L Duratec 23 I4 engine and the 2.0L Duratec 20 TDCI diesel engine.
The Ford PowerShift dual clutch transmission was also introduced as an option for better fuel efficiency. Safety was improved with standard side airbags and electronic stability control.
This generation received positive reviews for its improved driving dynamics, technology features, and interior quality. The redesigned hatchback body style in particular grew in popularity and accounted for about 25% of Focus sales during this generation.
Fourth Generation (2012-2018)
The fourth generation Ford Focus hatchback was introduced for the 2012 model year and represented a major upgrade over previous models. It rode on Ford’s new global C platform architecture and offered improvements in interior space, fuel economy, and technology features.
For the North American market, the Focus hatchback was initially offered with a 2.0L direct-injected I4 engine producing 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A 5-speed manual was also available on the SE trim (Edmunds). In 2015, a 1.0L EcoBoost turbocharged 3-cylinder with 123 hp and 125 lb-ft became available for even better fuel efficiency up to 40 mpg highway.
Notable technology upgrades for this generation included the MyFord Touch infotainment system with touchscreen interface, rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, and active park assist. The hatchback also offered increased cargo room and rear seat legroom compared to previous models.
Overall, the fourth gen Focus hatch brought meaningful improvements in driving dynamics, efficiency, interior quality, safety tech and connectivity over earlier versions.
Current Generation (2019-)
The latest generation Ford Focus hatchback debuted for the 2019 model year with an all-new redesign. This redesign brought updated styling, new engine options, and additional technology features.
On the exterior, the 2019 Ford Focus hatchback has a sleeker, more aerodynamic design with a lower hood, new grille and headlights, and a tapered rear end. The interior was also redesigned with higher quality materials and the latest version of Ford’s Sync infotainment system.
Under the hood, engine options include a 1.5L EcoBoost turbocharged three-cylinder producing 181 horsepower. This engine provides good fuel economy while still offering decent performance. Reviews praised the engine’s smooth power delivery and efficiency.
The 2019 Focus hatchback comes well equipped even in base models. Available technology features include a 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and more. Overall, reviews have been positive about the redesigned Focus’s combination of style, efficiency, driving dynamics and tech features.
The Ford Focus hatchback has offered sporty performance versions over the years, starting with the original Focus SVT that debuted in 2002 (https://www.motortrend.com/cars/ford/focus/). It featured a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 170 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. In 2005, Ford introduced the Focus ST hatchback powered by a 2.3L 5-cylinder engine with 222 hp.
In 2012, Ford launched a new generation Focus ST with a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder pushing 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque (https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/a15102497/ford-focus-st-instrumented-test-review/). It could accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 6.4 seconds. The high-performance Focus RS arrived in 2016 with an even more powerful 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder pumping out 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, enabling 0-60 times under 5 seconds.
The latest Focus ST has a 280 hp 2.3L EcoBoost engine, while 0-60 times for the standard hatchback range from around 8-9 seconds depending on the engine. Fuel economy is estimated at 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway for the base model.
The Ford Focus has earned high safety ratings from leading testing organizations. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2018 Ford Focus received the top rating of “Good” in all crashworthiness evaluations including moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests (IIHS, 2018). The Focus also earned a “Superior” rating for its available front crash prevention system.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2018 Focus a 5-star overall safety rating, with 5 stars in the frontal and side crash tests and 4 stars in the rollover evaluation (NHTSA, 2018). In European assessments by Euro NCAP, the Focus received a 5-star rating for its protection of adult occupants.
The Focus comes standard with a rearview camera, hill start assist and Ford’s MyKey system which allows parents to set limits on vehicle speed and audio volume. Available active safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (Euro NCAP, 2018). By offering high crash test performance, standard driver assistance technologies and advanced options, the Focus provides customers with strong protection.
Awards & Reviews
The Ford Focus hatchback has won its fair share of awards over the years. In 2018, the all-new Focus won 12 awards across Europe, including Compact Class Winner at the Auto Zeitung Auto Trophy 2018 in Germany and Best Family Car at the UK Car of the Year Awards.
More recently in 2023, the Ford Focus was named Best Family Hatchback at the AA Ireland Car of the Year Awards. The judges praised the Focus for its practicality, technology and driving dynamics that make it a great choice for families.
Reviewers consistently note the Focus’ sharp handling, comfortable ride and spacious interior. Owners like the hatchback’s fuel efficiency, safety features and value. While some critics find the interior materials unimpressive, most agree the Focus provides an enjoyable driving experience in an affordable package.
Pricing & Availability
The Ford Focus Hatchback has traditionally offered strong value for the price. Here’s an overview of MSRP pricing for new models by generation:
- First Generation Focus Hatchback (2000-2004): MSRP ranged from $12,470-$17,000
- Second Generation Focus Hatchback (2005-2007): MSRP ranged from $13,365-$18,325
- Third Generation Focus Hatchback (2008-2011): MSRP ranged from $15,270-$22,345
- Fourth Generation Focus Hatchback (2012-2018): MSRP ranged from $16,200-$24,495
- Current Generation Focus Hatchback (2019-): MSRP starts around $18,950
Used Ford Focus Hatchback models can often be found for significant discounts off original MSRP. According to CarMax, used 4th generation Focus Hatchbacks are currently priced from around $13k up to the low $20k range depending on mileage and condition.
For the best deals on a new Focus Hatchback, check with local Ford dealers for current incentives and special offers. The Focus Hatchback tends to see good cash rebates and financing promotions since it is nearing the end of its lifecycle in the U.S. market.