1999 Ford Focus Ghia 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


Well equipped, modern looking car, let down by corrosion


Bodywork corrosion - front and rear offside wheel arches are both suffering, with extensive corrosion on one of the front wings. Apparently this entire panel can be replaced fairly easily though.

Underbody corrosion - exhaust and heat shield mountings have had issues (I ended up just removing the heat shield entirely to stop it from dropping onto the road). Brake pipes also corroded badly. Finally the front crossmember below the radiator has just failed due to corrosion, dropping the radiator onto the road. This is the final straw that will see this car consigned to the scrap heap.

Power steering problems. Had to replace the power steering pump (DIY job with a reconditioned unit) and also had a fluid leak from elsewhere in the system. Some of this could be down to lack of maintenance in an older car however... I'd suggest making sure the power steering fluid is replaced on occasion to help prevent issues.

Issues with brake caliper seals leaking (on two separate occasions, first time front, and then rear a year later).

Developed a small oil leak from a hole in the bottom of the sump, presumably due to corrosion. I fixed this using JB Weld, and have not had problems since.

Central locking is unpredictable. All doors lock and unlock remotely, but will only work with a key if the car is unlocked from the passenger side, not the driver's side. It occasionally locks and unlocks itself while the car is driving.

Leaking from top of driver's door surround in heavy rain. More or less fixed with liberal application of silicon sealant.

Thermostat failed, but this was a relatively cheap and easy DIY replacement.

Windscreen wiper wash control failed, but a replacement stalk from eBay sorted that.

Heated front windscreen only seemed to work on a narrow vertical strip on the passenger's side.

In my time owning the car, front suspension drop links and one wheel bearing also needed replacement.

Usual consumables like brakes, tyres and exhausts, though the full exhaust system, including catalytic converter, came at an eye watering price for such a "cheap" old car.

General Comments:

Quite a list of issues, though most of them could be expected in this age of car, or were relatively minor annoyances rather than big issues.

My biggest issue with it was corrosion related.

The car handled terribly when I first got it - the mk3 diesel Astra I had previously was a better drive, and I had a few "moments" when pushing the car on tight bends in the wet. I really wondered what all the rave reviews had been going on about until I fitted a new set of tyres all round. This completely transformed the feel of the car, and suddenly I got it. The old tyres had plenty of tread, but were just rubbish.

Fuel consumption was generally around 35 MPG, though that is taking it pretty easy - I ride my motorbike if I want to go fast. Long drives would see this rise a bit, and I generally got between 350 to 400 miles from a tank (more often towards the lower end of that).

Plenty of room in the car, and we found it comfortable for long trips. I took it from Scotland to France and back once with no problems.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 29th June, 2012

1999 Ford Focus Ghia 1.8 16v petrol from UK and Ireland


Not as good as I was led to believe


Wiper linkage fell to bits.

Hard to find third gear.

Right hand front indicator worked when it felt like it.

Heater blower switch would only work on position 3.

Doors creaked badly.

Remote locking wouldn't work.

Car would sometimes misfire at low revs.

General Comments:

The Ford Focus is generally looked upon to be one of the best cars Ford has ever made; certainly they flew out of the showrooms, and nearly every street in the country has one, but the reality is that once up in years, they are just another used car. A chap I work with, has had a number of Focuses (should that be Foci?) and rated them very highly, however he's the sort of chap whose cars never reach MOT age, so his view may have been a big biased. My own well used example was of 1999 vintage, with 120000 miles on the clock, a 1.8 Ghia no less.

First thing I noticed was that the Ghia badge immediately added two groups to the insurance, all for a few bits of faux wood trim that quite frankly looked terrible. Yes, there was air con and a heated front screen, things that a Mondeo LX of similar age would have, but apart from that, nothing special in the interior dept, just the usual oversize Ford audio that doesn't work on medium wave, and barely works on FM, complete with cassette player, and this is the top of the range in 1999?

Almost immediately, things started failing; the heater would only work on position 3, a quick google suggested it may be a resistor, but if you fiddled with the switch, it would work in the other position, and eventually I gave up.

Then, in the middle of a torrential downpour on the motorway, the wipers packed up; the linkage had decide to die, of course both wiper arms and a fair amount of plastic trim needed to be pulled off before the linkage was bodged with a bungee cord I found in the boot. Eventually, soaked to the bone, I was able to drive again. Fortunately the air con helped dry the steam rising from me as I warmed up.

The driver's side front indicator had a mind of its own. Twice it failed at exactly the same spot. I removed and cleaned the corroded bulb holder, and it worked fine after that.

Driving the car was not as good as I had expected; despite having the same engine as my old Mondeo, and fewer miles on it, it did not feel much quicker, in fact it didn't feel any quicker, and seemed a lot less happy at high speeds. At low speeds it was worse, and sometimes at low revs, it would have a huge hiccup, and if you tried to change quickly from second to third, you'd either end up back in first, or bogged down in fifth.

Handling was a disappointment; certainly no better than a 306, and above 75 it felt a bit skittish, was something bent? I don't know, but you always felt it would go pear shaped quickly; maybe the much vaunted control blade suspension doesn't wear well?

The rear visibility is awful; a large number of Focuses in my area all have damage on the driver's side rear corner, due to the enormous blind spot here.

Build quality is not up to Mondeo standards. Rust was breaking out on the tailgate, paint was flaking off the bumpers, and the doors let out an audible groan when opening or closing; it just didn't feel "tight"

All in all, it was an OK car, but to be honest, it didn't have any character, didn't do anything badly, but it wasn't spectacular either!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th October, 2011

26th Oct 2011, 11:36

Although I am not familiar with the European Focus (I am from Canada), I had a 2001 Focus ZTS Sedan, and it was great. The only issues were maintenance issues for a car of its age, and it had 178,000kms on it when I sold it again. Sounds like you bought a car you did not research very well or test drive, and also that was poorly maintained. Next time do some homework into the specific car you're buying instead of looking at a group of 1 type of car and saying they are all good.

23rd Nov 2011, 17:08

It was a £500 car, it wasn't a case of doing homework, I've worked in the motor trade since I left school 20 years ago, and owned maybe 100 cars in that time. I knew it wouldn't be perfect, but it's by no means the best car for the money.