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Actually, I would say its better than a BMW. The Focus handles well, it is excellent on fuel, it looks good, the interior is extremely well laid out.... but lets get this opp into some kind of order.
Price. I paid £7995 for a 2001 model Focus Zetec. Just to clear one thing up.. Ford's 16 valve double over head cam engine is called the Zetec engine. BUT, Ford also do a model option called a Zetec. Let me explain. You can go out and buy a Focus Zetec with a 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 engine. So thats a Ford Focus Zetec model with a Zetec engine. You can also but a Focus Zetec with a diesel engine.
The Zetec model gets you- alloy wheels, air con, electric windows, cd player, sports suspension, sporty seats, twin air bags and a patridge in a pear tree. The benefits of some of the above features are self explanitory such as air bags and cd player and electric partridges. But whats so good about alloy wheels and fancy suspension I hear you ask. Alloy wheels- Lets be honest most people go for that option "cos they look pretty". The top and bottom of it is alloy wheels are lighter than steel wheels and just as strong, although I wouldn't recommend bumping up and down curbs with them because if you hit alloy wheels in the wrong place..they don't bend, they break. The main benefit of alloy wheels is the fact they are lighter, which means less weight on the car which equals better fuel consumption and better performance. But don't expect it to go like a Ferrari just 'cos of the alloys.
Sports suspension- Basically, your car cushions the bumps on the road with springs and shock absorbers. With "soft" springs and shockers all the bumps are absorbed giving you a smooth ride. But, the softer the suspension, the more a car will "wallow" around corners. We've all felt that body roll on corners havn't we. So if you stiffen up the suspension, you get less body roll, which is good for going around corners because the car is more stable. But of course, stiffer suspension means you feel the bumps. You tend to find that stiffer suspension usually makes the car sit lower to the road and look "sporty" which looks fab with your pretty alloy wheels. BUT.... none of this is any good with out low profile tyres. "Whats he on about now?" I here you ask. I'll try and explain as simpley as I can. Rubber flexes and the rubber tyres flexing accounts for alot of the movement of the car when cornering. The profile of the tyre is basically the distance between the rim of the wheel and the road. So if you've got two inches of rubber between you and the road it will flex less than having six inches of rubber between you and the road. So low profile means less tyre flexing and more stability on the road. Hope thats all clear now.
All the Focus range handle very well on the road, the just seem to go where you point them. The power steering feels secure and firm. I've driven other makes of car that skip all over the road because the power steering is just too light. The handling improves as you move through the range, the 1.4 handles well, the 1.6 and 1.8 standard set up are great the Zetec models handle excellently. And of course by the time you get to an RS Focus you are talking a serious piece of kit and real stick to the road stuff. With pant wetting performance. But we are talking about a 1.6 Zetec Focus. The focus is an excellent piece of design and engineering, from the excellent suspension (on all models) to the very durable engine. As with all Fords, you can mistreat them quite a lot and they still keep going.
Thats the basics for a service, add about an hour and a half labour charge and there you have it. All prices by the way are "ish" Of all the things on that list, the engine oil is probabley the most important. Ford use a semi-synthetic, 5/30 grade oil, so just remember, even if you use Castrol or Duckhams or any other good quality make of oil, if its the wrong grade you may have problems. Modern cars are very sensitive to things like that, and its not just Fords.
That said, I was told by a mechanic at my local Ford garage that the dealers hate the Focus.. why? Because they just dont go wrong. Which of course is good for you the car buyer. Have you noticed how many Focus police cars there are now. Thats got to tell you something about the reliability. So if you have a car that is not known for mechanical problems that means it'll spend more time giving you pleasure than costing you money on repair bills.
The car itself. Admittedly, not to all tastes, but what car is? The interior is quite brilliant. The dash is a brave design and leaves everything close to hand and easy to operate. The driving position is very comfortable and gives excellent all round visibility. Rear leg room, so I'm told, is pretty good, but this may be at the expense of boot space. But if you need a bigger load space, for pushchairs and stuff like that then why not buy the estate car version.
A guy who lives a couple of doors away from me (who drives a BMW) said to me in smug manner, "Oh its one of those Focus's.. a bit common aren't they?" All I could say to that was Yes.. but what do you expect from a car that just doesn't go wrong.
BUT..... theres always a but. I'm told that early model Focus's, S or T reg's did have problems with power steering pumps which were about £200 to put right.
The focus has proved to be a fantastic buy and so far has cost very little to run, and the biggest "fault" with them is that some people don't like the styling. My next door nieghbour thinks they look horrible, so I let him drive it around the block. he still thinks it looks horrible, but did say how smooth it was and who well it handled.
How much is worth when you sell it? Fords, Vauxhalls, Nissans, Rovers and in fact ALL cars these days lose value quickly, but thats your fault and my fault. We all wanted new cars to be cheaper just like European prices... and they are. The down fall of that is that your car still depriciates at the same rate as before European pricing came in. So don't whinge because its not worth much, you got it cheaper in the first place. All I recommend is that if you are worried about a new car losing value.... buy a second hand car thats already dropped in price. They tend to level out after a couple of years. I paid £7995 for my 2001 model but I have seen them since for £500-£600 cheaper.. but sh*t happens doesn't it.
To the chap with the BMW...... people say that the main thing wrong with the Focus is the blue oval badge on the front and its the common mans car. But this latest batch of blue oval wearing cars seem to be giving value for money. Whereas the BMW badge according to What Car magazine is giving faulty rear wheel bearings, brake pipes that corrode within a year, a stupid price tag and the idea that the person behind the wheel has a few quid in his bank account, but no personality. Lets be honest when was the last time you shouted "Bloody Focus drivers.. think they own the road!!"
You may have gathered I'm no fan of BMW's so I apologise about that last rant.
Good review - I just dont understand how these cars are outselling the new Astras.
And I say that as someone who's dad has worked for Ford all his life.
I've got a new Astra SXi Digital and I would buy one of those over the Astra any day!