Hey, good lookin'

There's a lot to like about the latest Ford Focus, but will critical acclaim finally turn into plenty of sales?

In photos, black really doesn't do the new Focus quite enough justice. Unlike previous generations, the Focus is a genuinely pretty car.

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Big wheels keep on turnin'

The top-of-the-range Titanium comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, which help no end, too.

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Choices

Aside from the five-door hatch we reviewed, Australians can also elect the sedan version.

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Choices

We do miss out on the wagon Focus that's available in Europe.

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Xenon lights

Part of the Sports Executive pack, the xenon headlights don't swivel in sympathy with steering inputs.

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Round we go

The fog lights on our car also double as cornering lights.

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Melt

Gone are the high-mounted vertical tail lights from previous Focus hatchbacks.

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Cap it

The Focus does without a fuel cap. Convenient, but we did end up dribbling diesel down the side of the car.

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Torquing it up

The 2-litre turbo-diesel engine is smooth, quiet and laid back. Petrol options include a 2-litre turbo and 1.6 litre.

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I see you

The outer third of the wing mirror is highly convex.

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Multi-control, part I

The sound system's 4.3-inch screen (top) can be controlled via the dashboard.

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Multi-control, part II

Or by the five-way controller on this spoke of the steering wheel. Some functions, though, can't be accessed unless you reach over to the dash.

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More thumb action

The trip computer (above) is accessed via the controls on the right spoke.

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Air time

Dual-zone climate control is a standard fixture on all Titanium-grade Focuses.

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Hot times

So, too, are heated, but not cooled, seats.

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Power!

It's rather difficult to find, at first, hidden behind the steering wheel, but the Power button is actually for the keyless start system.

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Light up

Dusk-sensing headlights, as well as front and rear fog lights, are standard on the Titanium.

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Up, down, in, out, flick

The audio system shortcuts for track/tune, volume and voice command system take a bit of memory or guess work.

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Remember this

So, too, do the shortcuts for the active cruise control and speed limiter.

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Swoosh

The 4.3-inch audio display is high resolution, and features pleasing animations that aren't too time consuming. There's no track name database for the CD drive, though.

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RDS

The analog-only radio does display names for FM stations.

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Sound of failure

Via the standard USB port, the sound system will happily read the contents of your iPod/iPhone, but unless you have a Ford-specific cable, you won't hear any music.

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Back to the future

In the previous-generation Focus, the auxiliary jack and the USB port lived in the centre console bin along with an MP3 player holder. No more, alas.

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Shift the way you move

A six-speed automated dual-clutch transmission is the only option for diesel Focus buyers. Manual and dual-clutch transmissions are offered to petrol owners.

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Down, I say

To change gears, just flick this up/down switch on the gear knob. It's neither as intuitive as shift paddles on the steering wheel or tapping the gear lever up and down.

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If you're happy

The rain sensitive wipers work in a clapping formation.

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Quality plus

The interior is almost up there with the Golf in terms of presentation and quality, but has significantly more personality.

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Plush

The dashboard itself is a Golf-level of soft and spongey.

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Hold 'em

The seats are comfortable and sufficiently grippy. They're only partially clad in leather, though.

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Sit down

There should be enough leg room for most, even with the front passenger's seat pushed all the way back.

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Offset

We found it interesting that the main interior lights are off to the side. Maybe we should go out more.

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The L word

The interior's full of neat little features, such as the L-shaped hand brake.

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Top gun

The ridges on the instrument panel cover made us feel like we were piloting a jet fighter.

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Stop it

Don't turn the collision-alert system up to high sensitivity, unless you like being warned endlessly (and loudly) every time you brake even a nanosecond too late.

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Light and magic

A tilt-and-slide sunroof is part of the optional Sports Executive pack.

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Booty call

It's not cavernous, but there's a decent amount of space in the boot.

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Hiding hole

Under the boot floor, there's a space-saver spare tyre and storage cubbies.

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Jumpin' Jack

To accomodate the spare tyre, the boot floor is quite a bit higher than the seat backs when they're folded down.

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Easy does it

Interior handles make light work of closing the boot.

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Hold me

The leather-clad steering wheel is rather nice to hold and use. It adjusts for both reach and angle.

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Cup 'em

The rear seat's folding armrest features cupholders.

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Back seat

Rearward vision is somewhat compromised, but at least the head rests are unobtrusive.

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Puddle o' light

Puddle lights hide out on the underside of the wing mirrors.

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Sparkles

The black paint sparkles in the sunlight.

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Parked

Front and rear parking sensors are nice, but there's no reversing camera, at any price.

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Wheeee

Only the driver benefits from electric seats.

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No happy snaps

The speed limiter is perfect for speed camera zones.

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Take it slow

As is the active cruise control system, which maintains either your desired speed or a safe (configurable) distance from the car in front.

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Glow

The interior lights bathe the Focus' cabin in a wonderfully pleasing glow. No camera flashes were used in this photo.

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Sinister

Red ambient lights contrast with the electric-blue buttons.

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Cool

The aforementioned blue button lighting.

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Parallel park

Active Park Assist misses quite a few obvious parking spots.

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Parallel park

The system also often mounts the curb when parking behind vans or hatchbacks.

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Parallel park

Without a reversing camera to add an extra level of reassurance, a certain leap of faith (and caution) is required.

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Parallel park

In the end, we preferred the system used in the Toyota Prius.

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Looks can be deceiving

The matte chrome bits and bobs look convincing, but aren't as nice to touch as real metal parts.

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Talk to me

Not only does the trip computer feature nice swooshy animations, but its warnings are more informative than the norm.

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