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I apologise now if I get too enthusiastic in describing this car, but I think the details will do it justice.
The Ford Focus Zetec is in the higher end of the model range and often comes with uprated extras over the base models. My particular car came with what Ford call the 'Climate Pack'. This is a handy combination of air conditioning, heated front windscreen, heated mirrors and heated washer jets. These gadgets can seldom be appreciated in the warmer months, but are an absolute Godsend in winter.
If you are looking to buy a focus, make sure you check it has the climate pack. Where most spend twenty minutes scraping ice off their windscreens on frosty winter mornings, you can simply start the engine and press the heat buttons for the front and rear windows. In just under three minutes, the ice would have melted - no more cold hands and de-icer sprays for you!
The Focus is a good looking car even eight years after it first rolled onto our streets. Its stylish curves and sharp angles keep it looking modern. The paintwork on the Focus is very good quality and is therefore covered by a twelve year Ford Warranty in case anything should go wrong with it.
The Zetec models came equipped with fog lights and electric headlight levelling, so you can change the height of the beam from the inside whilst driving. This is particularly useful if the environment you're driving in changes. The front windows and wing mirrors are also electric and are operated from a button on the driver side door. The Zetec model came with fifteen inch alloy wheels and a spare space saver wheel in the boot.
Ford experimented with the interior in the Focus and made it as interesting as the exterior, with curves everywhere! This makes the dashboard still look modern and interesting; unlike in many cars where it looks dated when styles change.
The seats are grey with a basic pattern on them. The pattern does not stand out and the seats look quite smart. They are extremely comfortable to sit in and are good on long distance journeys. I regularly drive between London and Norwich without any problems. It helps that the height is adjustable on the driver seat and the backrests can recline on both of the front seats. The rear seats have head rests including the middle seat.
The styling in the Focus Zetec includes silver door card trim, a silver radio and heater control surround along with a silver gear knob. The standard entertainment in the focus comes in the form of a CD player with steering wheel controls. This is very handy for anyone who likes to listen to music whilst driving and shows how much thought Ford put into designing the car around the driver. The music is brought to you through speakers in the front doors and in the rear doors (if you have a 5 door model) or rear panel if not. Ford didn't skimp on sound quality and gave the focus good standard speakers, so if you like your 'choons' then the focus is a good one to go for.
The dash lights up green when the lights are turned on and has a dimmer switch, so you can have it as bright or as dark as you like. The centre console has two cup holders and some storage space at the back along with a little ashtray. The glove box provides a lot of storage space which is one of the focus' best features. The hatchback shape means that the boot is nice and deep and has folding rear seats for extra space. The facelift models (after 2001) have a folding front passenger seat too. While we're talking about the boot, I think its a good time to mention the boot solenoid which can be activated via the key or by pressing the button on the dashboard. This is a great feature if you regularly use the boot and saves you having to unlock it with the key every time.
Under the bonnet
The 1.6 engines are smooth and with 100bhp under the bonnet, are powerful enough for most uses. They have a five speed gearbox which on the 1.6 has no common faults, so it very reliable. Services are every 12000 miles or every year depending on how much you drive. Ford charge approximately £200 for a major service, so it's not extortionate to keep the car running.
Suspension and Braking
The suspension on the Zetec models is uprated with 'sports' suspension which gives slightly stiffer springs but retains the ride quality. As a result, the handling on the zetec is outstanding and really grips the road around the twisties. The standard suspension setup makes the car run smoothly and is very quiet on the motorways compared to other cars I've driven. Power steering makes low speed manoeuvres and parking easy and the height adjustment is good for getting the position just right.
The brakes on the 1.6 models consist of front disk brakes and rear drums. Some models were fitted with ABS, but not some of the earlier pre facelift models (pre 2001) so make sure you ask if it is included. The brakes are very effective and do a good job of stopping the car under emergency braking.
This brings me onto the safety features of the Focus. The cars come with driver and passenger front airbags as standard along with three point seatbelts on both the front and rear seats. As I said before, some cars come with ABS and all cars have a third brake light at the rear of the car for extra visibility.
Security wise, the focus comes well equipped with remote central locking with the double locking feature if you press the 'lock' button twice. This means that even if someone breaks the window, they stil won't be able to unlock the door from the inside and will have to reach in through the window. Even if they do get the car unlocked, they will set off the alarm that comes as standard on all Foci (generally accepted pleural term of Focus).
There are child locks on the rear doors (on the 5 door model) to stop children opening the doors from the inside.
The insurance is extremely reasonable, with the 1.6 being insurance group 5. It is an ideal car for a young driver (such as me) as it is cheap to run and is easy on insurance. The fuel tank costs about £45 to fill up from low reserve to maximum and gets you about 300 miles to a tank.
Overall the focus is a fantastic car and is an excellent upgrade from older cars (such as the VW Golf mk2). It is cheap to insure and run and is versatile enough to either be a family car or a sporty car for a younger person. There are only a handful of common problems with the 1.6 model, one of them being the rear wheel bearings and the other being a leaky scuttle (caused by careless spanner monkeys when they change the pollen filter). Both problems are easily solved and are well known to Ford, so should be no bother for them to do the necessary work.
I would recommend this car to anyone looking to buy an affordable hatchback with loads of gadgets to play with.