North East Connected

20 years of the Ford Focus: the king of Britain’s roads

  1. A year France won the World Cup on their own turf, the Euro was agreed to be much of Europe’s single currency, Titanic won 11 Oscars, Frank Sinatra passed away and Google was founded. But that’s not all – the king of Britain’s roads was first rolled out. Step forward the Ford Focus!

That’s right, the sleek Focus has been gracing Britain’s roads for 20 years and Ford unveiled the fourth generation of the design in April to mark its 20th anniversary. So, how has the popular car developed throughout the years? Here, with Lookers, who have a offer a wide range of disability cars, we turn back the clock and delve into the archives into a car design that has had over 12 million owners since its introduction.

The Ford Focus is unveiled

In July 1998, we welcomed the Ford Focus into our lives, replacing the formerly affable Ford Escort. The design was originally launched at the Geneva Motor Show and was a shock to the system design-wise. And underneath its angled bodywork lay its multi-link control blade rear suspension. It was a big task to ask the Focus to steal our hearts, but steal them it did with three versions originally released: a three-door hatchback, four-door sedan and five-door wagon.

It wasn’t all plain sailing at the start, though, with the automobile manufacturer needing to go to a Cologne court to dispute the name after German publishing company Hubert Burda Media attempted to block the name due to its own publication already being called ‘Focus’. However, that attempt was futile, and the Ford Focus went on to win Car of the Year awards in both Europe and America in its first year. The new edge design immediately set the Focus apart from the competition, and features including taillights at eye level helped the car sell over four million models in six years.

In 2002, inspired by the WRC Focus, Ford unveiled the 215bhp Focus RS — a car which had an outlandish body kit and an unusually tasteful spoiler at the rear. Climate control and sat nav options were also introduced to the model in this year.

The introduction of the MK2 Focus

In 2005, the second edition of the Focus was unveiled and ‘safe’ was a word that welcomed it to our roads. Not only had Ford supposedly played it safe with their design, the vehicle also achieved five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test – impressive stuff! With lowered and stiffened suspension alongside uprated brakes, it was clear that Ford had – excuse the pun – focused on their safety aspects.

Other key introductions included giving the driver the option between ‘comfort’, ‘standard’ and ‘sport’ modes for the weight of steering. The interior quality was also a step above the MK1, with much more room in the back of the car and a larger boot space.

The model received a facelift less than three years later in 2007, allowing the MK2 to extend its life on the production line until 2011. It broke through the 300hp barrier with the introduction of the second-generation Focus RS, allowing the vehicle to go from 0-62mph in less than six seconds.

Another limited-edition version was introduced in 2010 and its 345hp improved performance further, with 0-62mph taking an impressive 5.4 seconds.


MK3 Focus arrives

Once again, Ford decided to restyle the Focus’s body and take advantage of technical advances in 2011. Step forward the Ford Focus MK3. The bold styling that wowed the public in the early days was back and, marking the shift towards downsized engines, most options would be turbocharged.

As a model which is known for its practicality, this edition was no different. The boot accommodated 316 litres, making it more than suitable for that weekly family shop, and its spacious seating was designed with comfort in mind.

It also marked the introduction of the model’s electric version, although it originally wasn’t a success.  Once again, like the first two versions, 2014 saw the MK3 receive another facelift in a bid to rival the VW Golf GTD. The impressive upheaval saw the car go from 0-62 in just 4.7 seconds, making it a serious performer. Drift mode was also included, but this may not have been included with motorways in mind!

By the end of 2014, the Focus was the most common car in Great Britain, with over 1.5 million models on our roads.

Time for the MK4

In 2017, the Ford Focus was the third bestselling car in Britain. With the Focus falling slightly compared to previous years though, the company have revamped the car in line with its 20th anniversary to make sure it stays in the public’s eye as being one of the best cars on the market.

The body may have moved away from the original design, with a longer bonnet and more powerful look gracing the chassis, but tech-wise the MK4 has retained some of the old car’s fun-to-drive DNA. As it has throughout the years, the Ford Focus’s revamp has put a major focus on safety aspects and the newest edition features many gadgets that had previously been reserved for luxury cars, including Ford’s Co-Pilot360 system, inflatable seatbelts and post-collision braking.

Another quirky gizmo that has been added is owners being able to locate their car and lock and unlock the doors all via their FordPass smartphone app. Unsurprisingly too, there’s more room once more for luggage and passengers with room upfront being maximized.


With 20 years of service, the Ford Focus and its new MK4 doesn’t appear to be removing itself from our roads for the foreseeable future — and long may it last we say!
















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