Well after much deliberation, I finally traded in my old Focus 1.8 Zetec in preference for the new Mk. II model. All the magazine reviews have been raving over it, so that was a good start. So what's new?
The first thing that is immediately apparent is the build quality. The old one wasn't bad by any means, but was always let down by the hollow, hard plastic dashboard. Ford have markedly raised the game and brought the Focus right up there with the Mk.4 Golf - it's all there, squidgy feel plastics, chunky feeling switches, and the damped action on all the bits that move about. It's arguably better than the interior of the Mk.5 Golf. The Ghia and Titanium also have the VW style "flicknife" style ignition key.
Performance. I went for the 1.6 Ti-VCT petrol engine (variable camshaft timing), which at 115PS effectively replaces the 1.8 in the old Focus. Makes a much better noise than the old Zetec-E engine, and the mid range is noticeable better. So you get 1.8 performance with 1.6 fuel economy. only from a standing start do I feel that it isn't quite as quick off the mark.
Driving/Handling. No problems here. Close your eyes and you will think you are still in the old car with its now- legendary dynamics. Not surprising given that the chassis is carried over... and it's even more taut around corners, like the old car the chassis lets you away with blue murder. Gearshift has been slickened up, and the pedals are all light, and brakes responsive.
Niggles?? Pity you can't override the rain sensing wipers and just go onto normal intermittent - I find it irritating when it is drizzly and the rain sensor does nothing - I'd rather have manual control over the wipers when I wanted it. I still keep on putting the back window down by accident because the switches are too closely clumped together.
And why does Ford charge an extra grand for the Titanium model, and then take the cruise control off it which you can only get on the Ghia??
My main gripe is still the dealers. First of all I didn't get my first colour choice... which was Jeans, instead I got my third. Tonic Blue... which is of course the colour that every new-style Focus seems to be in. Then they "accidentally" fitted a 6-stack autochanger in the dash when the car was ordered and then tried to charge me for it before I told them to remove it and refit the standard one. And I am still trying to get the key to remove the alloy wheels, so I hope I don't have a flat tyre. (or is that why they give you RAC cover as part of the deal?)
Overall a great car. Pity they lost interest in it when they were doing the styling... it just doesn't have the sheer "I gotta have one!" factor that the old Focus had.