What a fantastic car!
After having problems with my last vehicle, I decided that it was time to get a newer car.
Trying to decide what car to buy was diffacult. I wanted something that was practical, fun and cheap.
A friend of mine has a 1.6 LX Focus, and he let me borrow it for the day. I was so impressed with the car that my mind was made up. A Focus it will be.
I got the car from a Ford main dealer, who gave me an excellent deal, and a rather good finance deal, considering my age. The car was prepared on time, with everything promised included.
As you probably are aware, the Focus is quite a bold looking car, which simply defies it's size. This car is a lot bigger than your eyes tell you. Park it next to an Astra or a Golf and this becomes more apparent. This can be quite disorientating at first, but it didn't cause me too much of a problem coming down from a Probe, which is a large car.
The car is easily entered and exited due to four door layout and the high roof line. The boot is also big, dealing with my twin JBL subs and the wife's weekly trips to the supermarket with no problems.
Once inside the car, the story continues well. the seats are comfortable, the quality of the materials are high and the colours inside the car match well.
I am, however, a little concerned about the design of the interior in two places; the passenger side of the dash, and the centre console.
Being quite tall, I find that the dash on the passenger side restricts my legroom a little. This is not to much of a problem, but anyone who is taller than 6 foot, or having to pull the front seat forward to better accomodate rear seat passengers, may become slightly uncomfortable. I would just like to say that this is not something I consider a major issue, but something that I would just like to make the taller buyer aware of.
The one place I do have to critisize though is the centre console. It simply has no order or symmetry. It looks as though the heater controls, buttons and clock were simply dropped on to the facia from a great height, then the designer realised that they had forgotten the radio, and they simply squeezed it into the biggest space they could find on the facia. This is one area that I prefer the new shape Focus.
The only other critisism that I can muster is that the rear veiw mirror is set quite low down on the screen. This isn't really a problem unless you are of the fluffy dice persuasion!!
Out on the road this car is fantastic.
Around town, all the controls are light and fluffy, with generally good visibility, although the A-pillars are quite thick, causing minor blind spots.
Revering can be a bit tricky in tight spots due to the small rear screen, but it doesn't take long to adjust to this.
Get it on the motorway, and everythings nice and peaceful. 70 in top is at a nice and sedate 2900rpm, with very little road noise. I find that the front doors whistle ever so slightly at around 80mph. I would, however, like to point out that due to this being quite a tall vehicle, it is quite prone to being blown about a bit by strong crosswinds and trucks.
Where this car really shines is fast A and B raods with lots of twists and bends.
The car simply grips and goes. The handling is simply amazing on this car. The speed sensitive power steering is a work of genius, always giving loads of feel. The brakes also feel strong, more so in my car due to it lacking ABS. My freind's 1.6 is equipped with ABS, and the brakes have a little less feel, but theres really not a lot in it.
Performance is well above what was expected from an 1800cc family hatch. The car pulls very strongly in all gears, and the Zetec engine gives you a massive kick at around 5000rpm, although this is not as big a kick as one of Honda's VTEC motors, it is still very impressive.
The performance figures are well above what Ford quote. I can regularly give most hot-hatches a run for their money, and larger performance saloons have diffaculty shaking the car off on the bendy bits. Third gear lasts for ever, with an indicated 100mph at 7000rpm, which is not too shabby. Ford's quoted top speed of 125mph is reached at 5000rpm in top, leaving plenty more to come. My friends 1.6 has seen an indicated 132mph at 6500rpm, blowing Ford's quoted 119mph out of town.
This is the fourth Ford car that I have owned, and I found that on all of them, the performance figures quoted by Ford fall well short of what is actually indicated. Has anyone else noticed this?
The level of equipment on this car is second to none. The LX trim is only one above the base CL trim, but you get so much.
My car has metallic black paint, twin airbags, remote central double locking with remote tailgate release, 15inch alloys, air conditioning, heated front screen with heated washer jets, electric front windows, body colour mirrors and bumpers, height adjustable driver's seat, five three-point seat belts, five adjustable head restraints, remote control CD player, automatic rear wiper, Xenon headlamps, and cubby holes to lose all of your possessions in.
I know that it's very silly, but the flip-round front badge and key-release bonnet is so cool, and quite a good idea in my opinion.
The overall build quality is good, with only a few minor concerns. Theres the tailgate issue that I mentioned above, the carpet was not laid properly in the back, causing it to tear where it goes up to meet the rear bench, and the manual mirrors on my car tend to vibrate around a lot if I am listening to something loudly on the radio. This is not caused by the subs in the boot, but from the front door speakers!!
For what is considered to be quite a large capacity engine, economy is good. £35-£38 to fill it up from empty depending where you fill up, and the car will return a decent 450-500 miles to a tank.
Insurance is cheap, as every second person seems to own one, parts are cheap, services are cheap.
OK, the Focus may not be as striking to look at as it was when it first appeared, what with the new Megane and that new Citroen that turns into a robot, but it is still a good looking car. As I mentioned earlier, every second person seems to have one, or had one at some time, and the people in between probably at least know someone with one. This is obviously testament to the quality of the car.
With the new Focus out now, you can pick up a new registered phase two shape at quite a good price, and second hand prices seem to be dropping. A work colleague recently purchased a 2001 1.8 Zetec 3-door for the measly sum of £1,800, with tax, MOT, full service history and 45,000 miles!
Just go and have a go. No matter what you drive now, you will more than likely love it. I have had a Nissan Micra, a Fiat Cinquecento Sporting, an Escort XR3i, a 24v Probe and a Scorpio Ultima Cosworth. I would rather have my Focus above any of them.