2001 Ford Focus ZX3 2.0 4 cylinder from North America


If you find one in decent shape, don't think twice


Ignition coil went bad; caused a miss and the check engine light. Was able to hobble it to a mechanic.

Currently, a fan relay or a fuse is not working, so the cooling fan won't turn on at low speeds. It's fine as long as I keep the car moving or if it's cool outside. A simple fix, but symptomatic of the 'electrical gremlins' many other Focus owners note.

General Comments:

The engine revs so easily and there's power in almost any gear at any speed. Of course the tradeoff of this peppy performance is that fuel mileage isn't that good for a car this size. Most comparable Hondas get 5 - 8 MPG better, especially in the city, and I really honestly miss that. It seems jarring to get 22 MPG when poking around town, but no, that's normal. And 30 MPG on the highway isn't bad, just not as good as you'd expect a car of this size to get.

It is comfortable, though. The seats are something you can sit in for hours and feel fine. There's plenty of legroom for the driver (I'm 6'3", and fit in it fine), and even in the backseats, there's room. And a spacious trunk. That's always nice to have.

The sound system is nice, but the speakers could use improvement as well as a new deck (the CD player doesn't like burned CDs, as it was made right before they were big).

The front end suspension is a bit... soft, though. My sister drives a Focus of the same year, and her hubby mentioned that changing the struts helped the handling immensely, and I can see what he means. If you hit a bump on the freeway, the front end feels a bit light as it bounces just a tad too high. It's not unsafe, just a bit unsettling until you get used to it.

The bottom line is that if you find a Focus in good shape (service records and all that jazz) it's worth the money. I lucked out, in that mine was really clean and well-maintained when I bought it, and comes with years of service records. If you're looking at one that's in sort of rough shape, be wary; this isn't a Honda that will take anything you throw at it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th January, 2013

2001 Ford Focus Zetec 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


Like a faithful old horse, it may not be noticed, but is always there for me


Coughing during acceleration; fixed with the simple application of new HT leads.

Erratic idle speed was caused by a pipe that needed replacing on the engine. Sorry for being so fantastically non-technical, I can't remember what it was.

The engine seems to be using noticeably more oil, although there are no obvious leaks. A quick internet search revealed that this is not uncommon with the petrol Zetec Focus. I'll keep an eye on it for now.

Pound for pound, this is easily the most reliable car I've owned.

General Comments:

After ten years and 80,000 miles or so, I first met my Focus as it sat still proudly gleaming in its Pacific Green on a less-than-reputable used car lot in deepest Surrey.

'Full service history' quickly turned into 'lost service history', followed by 'no service history'. But despite a shaky start with the dealer, there were no such shaky starts with the car itself.

I was after a sensible balance of practicality, reliability and financial economy - but still a nice drive. I decided the little green Zetec was the right companion for some new adventures.

Luckily for me, adventures only come when required, as my car favours road-trips over and above trips into the parts bin and local garages. Aside from the few things listed above, none of which prevented me driving the car as normal, it hasn't missed a beat.

Seats are blackly sensible in appearance, but are comfortable. The dash is easier to use than its higgledy-piggledy appearance may suggest. There's enough power, and Zetec is entirely happy cruising round the M25 or sitting in a traffic jam. A commanding driving position gives a comfortable level of visibility, and helps keep me relaxed and assured, whether parking or changing lanes at speed.

The body bears the scars of a life in London - some pretty nasty scratches, curbed alloys, a random greasy handprint that is impossible to remove and a ruined boot lock, where my Focus must have proudly defeated a bungling burglar attempting to access it. Luckily you can still open the boot remotely from the dash.

At ten years old it was cheap to buy, and being a Ford I assume it's comparatively easy and cheap to fix if it goes wrong. Easy to drive, easy to run, and I expect easy to sell when the time comes.

Being such a best-selling car, there are plenty of them around, which ironically could be seen as the biggest drawback - you're never going to be seen as an individual from a motoring perspective. Individuality is a good thing, but perhaps not as good as passing another MoT with no extra costs to bear. I expect opinions differ, and yours may tell you whether or not a relatively sensible car such as a Focus is right for you.

My advice to anyone thinking of buying a Focus is simply to take advantage of the large numbers of cars available. I'm sure there are bad cars out there as well, as with any - and I've been fortunate. So take the time to make sure you choose one of the good ones from the wide choice available.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd November, 2012