A fast, reliable, economical and fun to drive diesel
Rear tyres went out of shape before they wore out. Replaced at 30k due to vibration and noise. Replacements are just starting to go the same way 20k later.
The odd bulb here and there.
Otherwise fault free.
The sports suspension in Zetec trim is well worth seeking out. The standard LX and Ghia models are good, but the Zetec is that bit sharper and the body control is better.
I work for a car leasing company and so get to drive all manner of cars. The Focus 1 still stands out for "just so" dynamics and feel, and I would argue in pure driving terms is actually nicer than the new model. Certainly it feels set up more for fun than refinement or safety - probably the last car in this class ever to be able to claim that.
I've pepped up the old 90PS 1.8 Endura Di engine with a Bluefin re-map. It now sports 127 bhp and 285Nm of torque with a dyno print out to prove it. It's still a bit down on power compared to the latest VAG engines, but the car is 150-200kg lighter than a Golf 4/5 or Focus 2 so performance stands comparison with these much more expensive cars. On that note, my Focus cost half as much to buy on the used market as a similarly aged Golf TDI, even with the cost of the re-map factored in. I wanted a TDCi really, but a chipped TDDi gives more power for a lot less outlay.
The assembly quality is excellent with tight panel gaps, deep, lustrous paint and a generally taut feel to the whole car even after nearly 50,000 miles. The interior plastics are cheap looking though, and I've marked it down on comfort because the seats are pretty naff. The driving position itself is excellent however.
With the re-map done 10,000 miles ago, the engine hasn't missed a beat and has only needed one oil top up between changes as ever. It returns 46 mpg average which is the same as it did pre-mod. The car is well out of warranty now anyhow, so gets serviced outside the dealer network. Interestingly, when I did take the car in for its last dealer service they said nothing about the re-map despite claiming to have road tested the vehicle. I can reverse the re-map at home in about 2 minutes if I need to anyhow.
Overall, a great car. The standard engine is dull, but if you can afford the TDCi or a good re-map, it's unbeatable for the money. Better still you have a really nice choice from about £4k upwards - knackered old shed money in Golf TDI terms.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 17th May, 2005