THE FOCUS has been given one last update before production ends in 2025 as Ford looks to shift towards the creation of more electric vehicles.

First released in July 1998, the car’s profile was boosted by the spectacular exploits of rallying legend Colin McRae, who competed in a Focus on the world stage for four years.

On a less glamorous level, it became a car of choice for many families, gaining a reputation as an affordable yet accomplished hatchback.

To see it through its final few years of production, the fourth-generation Focus has been given a mid-life facelift – and the results are pleasing.

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The front end has received a new-look bumper, a more contemporary grille and revised headlights, further sharpening the car’s good looks.

But the more significant changes are digital rather than mechanical. There’s now an impressive 13.2-inch infotainment touchscreen running the latest evolution of Ford’s software, named Sync4, replacing an 8.0in version that offered Sync3.

It provides crystal clear graphics, is intuitive and is beautifully-located within very easy reach for the driver.

What’s more, this monitor now incorporates the ventilation controls, giving the dashboard a cleaner, less cluttered look. However, placing your finger on the right section of the screen when going over bumps can prove tricky on a practical level.

The rest of the interior is well laid-out, albeit a little dull - with most things being black or grey.

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There’s lots of room up front, with plenty of adjustment allowing you to find the perfect driving position, while two adults should be fairly comfortable in the back seats too.

Mild hybrid technology is now widely available in the Focus line-up, but my test car was powered by the more conventional 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol unit.

Boosted by a turbo and offering 125ps, it felt potent enough in most situations – just.

For real driving satisfaction, a 0-62mph time of under 10 seconds would be desirable, so 10.2 seconds feels a bit underwhelming.

That said, an everyday family car has to strike a balance between performance and economy – and this version of the Focus returns pleasing fuel figures, with an average of 47.1-52.3mpg.

As is often the case with Fords, the Focus is well set up for enjoyable handling.

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The steering is sharp, if not a little on the light side, while the chassis responds quickly when cornering briskly, maintaining your chosen line through the bend.

Despite being set up to provide a bit of fun, the Focus also offers decent comfort levels, feeling quite composed on the 16-inch alloys.

Through the touchscreen, you can choose between three driving modes - eco, normal and sport.

As you’d expect, sport mode increases the car’s responsiveness to allow for a more dynamic drive, while eco reduces available performance in order to preserve fuel.

In an era when automatic gearboxes are becoming more common, it was nice to drive the Focus in six-speed manual guise.

The box was certainly slick enough to provide some satisfaction and driver engagement.

Both the hatchback and estate versions of the latest Focus are marked out by smarter LED headlamps with built-in foglights, while the Ford badge has been moved from the bonnet to the front grille.

Meanwhile, the darker rear tail lamps now have a much smarter ‘loop light’ illuminating signature.

The design of the front grille varies depending on trim level.

This Titanium trim level costs £24,750, which still represents good value for money considering the overall quality of the Focus package.

It seems a shame that this facelift marks the beginning of the end for the Focus – a car that has been commonplace on UK roads for around a quarter of a century and a vehicle that played its part in creating so many of those now-distant McRae memories!

Ford Focus Titanium
 ENGINE: 1.0-litre Ecoboost 125PS
PRICE: £24,750 (£27,000 with options)
EMISSIONS: 122g/km
ACCELERATION: 0-62mph in 10.2sec
TOP SPEED: 124mph
FUEL ECONOMY: 47.1-52.3mpg
EMISSIONS: 121-135g/km