Body roll is minimal and the enhanced handling has not been achieved at the expense of ride harshness
Ride and Handling
Behind the wheel is where you are most aware that this is a rather special Focus. The Zetec S has been tuned by Ford’s engineers to optimise its ride and handling, and increase the car’s appeal to drivers looking for something a bit beyond the normal offering. The ride height is the same as other Focus models, but the spring and damper settings are 25 per cent firmer.
This is the best-handling Focus, with suspensions tweaks that enhance its taut clinginess on the bends and make it even more engaging to drive than standard versions. Body roll is minimal and the enhanced handling has not been achieved at the expense of ride harshness. On a lengthy drive on twisty B-roads across rural Hampshire the Focus Zetec S hung on to the corners and sopped up the bumps and undulations with reassuring aplomb. It does feel quite firmly sprung but is more compliant and comfortable than you would normally associate with a sporty hatchback.
The steering is quick to respond to inputs on the wheel, and has reasonable feel for an electric rather than hydraulic set-up. The overall feel is of what you might call a “driver’s car”.
Ease of Use
By keeping the Zetec S as a five-door, Ford has ensured that its practicality is intact. Access all round the car is good. Ford’s famed use of an ‘age suit’, designed to let its young engineers experience the creaky stiffness of life for many older drivers and passengers, seems to have paid off comfortably weighted controls and door apertures that do not unduly restrict your movement when getting into and out of the car.
The standard split-fold rear seat lets you vary the ratio between passenger space and luggage room to suit your needs. With the back seats in place, the boot is a reasonable 316 litres, and when the seats are folded it increases to 1,101 litres. The Focus Zetec S makes a good tow-car too. It is capable of hauling 1,500 kg.