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Ford Focus matches luxury brands on safety

Ford Focus matches luxury brands on safety
Tristan Honeywill

People underestimate the Ford Focus. Being one of Europe’s best-selling cars, some think it doesn’t offer as much technology as the small family cars by luxury German brands. That isn’t the case, particularly when it comes to safety. The latest generation offers high levels of protection as standard and the choice of advanced driver support technologies is better than its main competitors. With the right options fitted, the latest Focus merits serious consideration.


How good is the crash protection for adults?

Almost every new car gets five stars these days scores five stars in Euro NCAP’s assessment, including the Focus.

Everything is pretty good, including whiplash protection. Ford says the driver’s airbag design improves chest protection for older, more injury-prone drivers. It has a curved tether that pulls in the lower section to reduce the impact on the ribs. NCAP used an average adult male dummy, however, so that’s hard to confirm. Here’s a video of NCAP’s crash testing of the Focus.


What’s the best thing available on the car? 

There’s a whole range of driver assistance systems available on the car that monitor the road around you. The radar-based autonomous emergency brake system is part of a separate option pack for the more expensive versions. If you’re buying a Titanium, Titanium ECOnetic or Titanium X model, you need to get Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert as a £750 option.

Between 4mph and 110mph, Forward Alert uses radar to scan up to 200m ahead of the vehicle for reflective obstacles. When you are 2.5 seconds from hitting it, you get a warning; a second later the system primes the brakes and starts to brake as soon as the driver lifts off the accelerator. As soon as the driver touches the brake pedal, he gets maximum force.

It can’t see through bad fog or predict other cars swerving in front of you, but if you’re distracted at the wrong moment on the motorway, it could prevent a serious accident.


What else can you fit as an option? 

Active City Stop uses a lidar sensor in the windscreen to scan around seven metres ahead of the vehicle for possible obstacles. In the time it takes you to blink, it can capture and process 15 images of the road ahead and it looks for hazards to avoid. It can detect and helps to avoid or mitigate accidents at low speeds of up to 18mph. Since launch, more than 70,000 customer have selected this option

Unusual for this kind of system, there’s no warning to the driver: it just brakes very hard, very late. It deliberately makes it a bit uncomfortable so the driver doesn’t get lazy and start relying on the system to stop. More information on this video.

Active City Stop is part of the Driver Assistance option pack (£1050), available on the Zetec and more expensive models. This also gets you a lane keeping aid and tired driver alert, among others. Check out the videos and the buying guide below.


Would I put my children in this car? 

The child protection was very good in both tests. Using a Britax Baby Safe Plus and the ISOFIX base and a Britax Duo Plus, the Focus got slightly higher scores (82%) than the Volvo V40 (75%), a similar sized car which was tested with the manufacturer’s own child seats. Good child safety is possible in more affordable models too.

An airbag switch is available as an option for the front passenger seat, if you want to put a child in a rearward facing seat next to you when driving. The car doesn’t come with seatbelt reminders in the back as standard though.


Would you recommend this car to friends and family? 

I’d recommend the Titanium version with all the bits to anybody. If you can afford a car with Forward Alert and Active City Stop, you should get it.

Safety tips

Buyer’s guide

  • The base model, the £13,995 Studio offers five-star safety as standard
  • You need to get a Zetec model (or higher) to add useful optional technologies. It costs £17,445 for the efficient, capable 1-litre EcoBoost engine version.
  • You need the Titanium, Titanium ECOnetic and Titanium X models, which start at £18,695, to fit Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert as a £750 option. The Titanium comes with the EcoBoost engine and a better quality centre console as standard as well.
  • The Driver Assistance Pack costs £1050 and includes Active City Stop, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam, and a Blind Spot Information System
  • The Cruise Control with Active Speed Limiter is a £200 option on the Zetec, but standard on some models
  • The Family Pack costs £250 and gets you seat belt reminders for the back seats and remote child proof rear door locks
  • Also consider the Volvo V40, which also offers five-star safety and comparable accident prevention technologies as options



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