But the point is there must be thousands more drivers out there who would not have even considered a Ford but will now think again. Our Focus, a 1.6 Ghia, comes as standard (it's an option on lower models) with a safety device which is so useful that I can't understand why every manufacturer doesn't fit one - a heated front windscreen. Every new car today comes with a heated rear screen, but surely the same at the front is even more essential?
Our Focus has its faults, however, some which come under the build quality label and others are down to design. First build quality, which in general is excellent, but our car suffers from wind noise from the driver's door and a clunk from somewhere in the rear, possibly the seat. It doesn't occur often so it's difficult to pinpoint, but at this stage is not too annoying. It's worth noting that the Focus being run by our sister publication, Fleet Car Business, suffers from the same faults.
Third gear is occasionally difficult to select, but this may disappear as the miles build up. The panel gaps on our car are slightly uneven and the rear nearside door is badly fitted. Others have mentioned design faults like lack of storage space and thick A-pillars hampering visibility, but I can add a couple more.
Why did Ford decide the fuel filler flap had to be opened with the ignition key instead of being part of the central locking? It's a real pain and the flap's flimsiness feels out of place compared to the sturdiness of the rest of the car. The rear seat backrest is divided 60:40 but the squab isn't, so if you're carrying a third passenger and a lot of luggage the folding backrest is a waste of time as you can't get a level - and therefore space-efficient - load area.
Finally our car has dandruff! A white powdery deposit appears on the top of the dashboard, although as time goes on the amount is getting less. Ford had not experienced this before and suggested something could have been blown into the ventilation system. It's obviously not a fault and is easily dealt with. Perhaps, even with it, the Focus is 'head and shoulders' above the competition.