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The Ford Focus has found a home with over 12 million owners since it was introduced to the world back in 1998, and with the new 2018 model marking the 20th anniversary, we thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at where the legend started. After all, it has created many memories for countless people and their families. A perfect opportunity for us to have a nostalgic look back at the history of this immensely popular car.

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Mk1 Focus 1998-2004

The Focus was an immediate success upon launch, winning Car of the Year awards in both Europe and USA in 1999. It sold over 4 million vehicles in 6 years of production, and was Britain's best-selling car for 6 years in a row.

It stood out with its 'new edge design', characterised by sharp lines and striking headlights. Meanwhile on the inside it was spacious enough for a 6ft 5inch adult to sit in the back in reasonable comfort.

The handling was widely praised by motoring journalists, largely thanks to the unique suspension which also made long journeys more pleasant. Jeremy Clarkson described it as 'more spacious, quieter, more comfortable, much nicer to drive, more economical and possibly safer than any other car in its class. It is superb'.

The original Focus was released as a 3-door hatchback, which was then joined by an estate and saloon version too, but the most popular was the 5-door hatchback. There was a range of engines available too, including a 1.6-litre petrol that managed 41mpg, which was rather  remarkable economy back then.

Notable performance versions included the Focus ST170, which added sports styling and alloy wheels, and the iconic Focus RS, which had a top speed of 144mph and hit 62mph in just 6.2s.


Mk2 Focus 2005-2011

The Mk2 went on sale in 2005. The design was more understated but it drove as well as the previous model, making use of new technology that allowed the driver to choose between different modes for the steering weight. Interior quality was more luxurious, while legroom and boot space were even greater.

It sold in droves thanks to a brilliant range of engines, including a petrol 78bhp 1.4-litre and a 142bhp 2.0-litre. A 1.6-litre TDCi was added later, and this managed a superb 64mpg combined.

The 2006 Focus ST was the first performance version. It had a massive 221bhp, pulled well in every gear, handled brilliantly and was tremendous fun to drive.

A major facelift in 2007 extended the life of the Mk2 Focus until 2011. New engine technology improved economy and reduced emissions, and it remained at the top of its class and segment.

Then in 2009, the Ford Focus RS was launched. This was a 297bhp monster capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 5.9s, with a top speed of 163mph. Its reputation follows classic Ford RS models, ensuring that even 2010 RS cars are still selling for well over £20,000.


Mk3 Focus 2011-2018

The Mk3 went on sale in 2011, and was the world's best-selling car in 2012. This time the design theme was 'kinetic' with a series of creases and lines creating the appearance of a moving car even when the Focus wasn't moving.

Again, Ford offered an impressive range of engines, with the pick of the bunch being the award-winning 1-litre EcoBoost and the super-efficient Econetic, capable of 83mpg combined.

No 3-door hatchback was available this time but the 5-door and estate models made up for this with sizeable boots and interiors as expected. Some modern tech was added too, with a touchscreen that responded to voice commands in all but the entry-level version, plus a QuickClear windscreen and keyless go in more premium trim levels.

A major facelift was applied in 2014 and the 'Mk3.5' models went on sale the following year. The design was made sleeker and the grille much larger. It remained a class leader in terms of drive quality and enjoyment, so much so that by March 2016 the Focus was the most popular car on UK roads.


Mk4 Focus 2018-

While the new Focus celebrates the 1998 original, it is in fact a clean break from previous generations. No parts have been carried over, with the Mk4 based on a new platform called C2.

And it's certainly an impressive upgrade. The exterior styling is athletic while the handling is equally sporty. The steering is brilliantly responsive, particularly in the powerful Focus ST version, making it a joyous car to drive.

As ever, there are plenty of engine options to choose from. The 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrols use cylinder deactivation technology to save fuel, while the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel versions pack extra power.

Available as a 5-door hatchback or an estate, the Focus continues to offer strong practicality. The interior is spacious, with raised front seats allowing those in the back to stretch out. The boot is a healthy 375 litres and almost 1000 extra litres can be created by folding down the rear seats. It's also a safe choice for families with a five-star crash rating.

20 years on then, the Focus is as good as it's ever been. Check out our range of new Ford Focus offers to find the one for you.

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