2003 Ford Focus MP3 2.0 Zetec from UK and Ireland


Good looks, decent reliability, not good for long journeys - noisy wheels and engine


Plastic thermostat housing cracked at about 60,000 miles. Not a cheap part to replace, around £95 (not from a dealer). Apparently quite a common fault.

The rear window got smashed once, and the design of the boot lid means that there is still some glass rattling around, which gets annoying.

Front wheel bearing went at around 60,000 miles.

General Comments:

Nice looking car, but the 17" wheels and low profile (35) tyres are a bad idea anywhere other than on a track. They make every journey uncomfortable, and the road noise is ridiculous at anything above about 50mph, meaning you almost have to shout to your passengers.

The 2.0 litre engine is also very raucous, and you have to rev it above about 4k rpm to get the performance from it. But if you do hold on until about 6.5k, it goes very well; will easily spin the front wheels in the rain on the slightest of curves.

The seats aren't very comfortable - the lack of lumbar support makes any journey over about 30 minutes un-enjoyable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th September, 2010

2003 Ford Focus ZTS 2.0 Zetec from North America


Proceed with caution if considering one of these cars


Alternator, 2x.

Engine mounts.

General Comments:

Bought this to replace my '97 Grand Marquis. My requirements were simple: 5-speed and 30 MPG.

Succeeded on the first requirement, failed on the second.

I've yet to see more than 28 MPG in mixed driving, even granny-shifting at 2000 RPM. Keep it below 2500 RPM for average fuel economy and no power to speak of, take it over 3000 RPM and it has some pep but your mileage will also drop. Tiny 13.2 gallon tank means you don't have much range (2.3 cars had a 14 gal. tank). SPI's do a little better on fuel mileage.

Lack of low-end torque makes it a challenge just keeping up with traffic around town. At high RPM's the thing just gets buzzy, and power falls off fast after 5500 RPM. (No redline on the tach, I shift at 5800-6000, no point in revving higher in spirited driving) Running the A/C bogs it down severely.

All regular maintenance is up to date.

I miss V8's...

Shifter is vague, some call it notchy, but nothing out of the ordinary to me.

Interior is pretty roomy for a car this size, leather seats are on the stiff side, but comfortable. But - no lateral support to speak of when taking a corner spiritedly, you're bracing yourself with the steering wheel and dead pedal. I'm told ZX3's and (obviously) SVT's are better with that.

Good suspension and chassis tuning keep most road irregularities from making it through the wheel or into the interior. It has too much body lean in turns, though grip is good. A stiffer rear sway and better springs would help.

Do your research if you plan on buying one of these. Common fail points are the brakes, coil springs (in northeast states, Ford has a TSB out, they like to crack), ignition switch, alternator, fuel pump on the earliest models... I figured I was (mostly) out of the woods on this stuff buying an '03 but I was wrong.

Fuel economy be damned, my lesson with this car is to drive what I like; time for another Mustang.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 14th July, 2010

2nd Nov 2012, 12:54

It's a 9 year old domestic compact.. what do you expect? You are lucky it's running. There are a lot of Hondas and Toyotas that don't make it to 100k miles.

I have an 03 ZTS loaded 5 speed, and I love it :) When I grandma it, I can get around 40+, but I live in WNC, so half of the time I spend with the clutch in.

Honestly, if you only had to replace something twice and nothing else... hell, I think that's a win for me. Heck, I had a 2011 Toyota Camry that Toyota had to buy back from us... it had only 18k miles on it and it died 10x, and was in the shop for over 3 MONTHS!!! So yeah, I am back to my lil 03 ZTS with 170k miles on it... and I love it; no CAR PAYMENT!

My water pump is starting to seep. That's the only thing that's been wrong with mine. Oh, and a battery... Honestly, if you are looking for better mileage, check out a Steeda cold air intake. That's what I did, and it pays for itself. Get rid of the stock air intake... it's a bad deal for MPG!!!

Hopefully you will like it a bit better. It's a great car. All cars have faults. Have you driven a 1996-2002 Subaru Outback? Everyone brags about them, but ask them if they had to replace head gaskets or a transmission, then 75% of them would say yes... but they are still a "great" car. Any car has faults these days.