The new Ford Focus will soon be more familiar than sliced bread. After all, its practicality and versatility mean it is virtually guaranteed to sell like yeast to a baker. The new model is an evolution of its predecessor, rather than a complete revolution. As such this small family car's ingredients are easily recognisable, but new spices have been added to update its flavour. So, is this distinctive new workhorse a stale loaf or a value-packed baker's dozen?

First things first. Engines come in various flavours, the most economical being the 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel. This powers the robustly constructed Focus to 62mph in 10.9 seconds and averages a fantastic 67.3mpg. This is partly due to its fuel saving start/stop system. Petrol lovers are catered for too with various 1.6-litre units. An excellent compromise between speed and economy is the 123bhp manual version. This hits 62mph in 10.9 seconds and averages 47.9mpg.

The new Ford Focus' exterior closely resembles the old version, although its stance is more purposeful. It is attractive overall, except that the rear lights look like stretched current buns. By contrast, the interior is as different from its predecessor as a cheap baguette is from a caviar sandwich. The dashboard feels noticeably higher, the finish better quality, and there is a vast selection of snazzy buttons. Goodbye baking bread over a fire. Hello space-age oven.

This army of switches controls numerous new gadgets. These include an active parallel park assist feature that automatically steers the new Focus into bays. There is also a low speed collision mitigation system. This slows, and potentially stops, the vehicle if its driver fails to notice a hazard. This could be a stationary car waiting at the lights. This technological marvel is also available with a lane departure warning system and blind spot indicator. Very reassuring.

The new Ford Focus comes as a five-door hatchback or estate only, so wave farewell to the sporty three-door hatchback and the four-door saloon. The estate carries 1,502-litres of wheat-based products with the rear seats folded flat, or 476-litres plus five passengers. The hatchback holds 316-litres of luggage with ease, or 1,101-litres if load-lugging bread lovers choose to rearrange the seats. These figures are comparable to rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf.

The old Ford Focus has pin-sharp steering, a sensibly firm ride, fantastic body control, and inspiring traction. In other words - a driver's car. The new version is marginally softer on its springs and the steering can, by comparison, lack feel. That said, the latest version is still extremely composed. It is an excellent motorway cruiser and can outperform many of its rivals on twisty roads. It is a guilt-free wholemeal loaf that performs beautifully, even if its non-wholemeal predecessor is slightly tastier on occasions. Great effort Ford. Nine out of ten.

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