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Last month I got myself another car. I wanted something economic as I do a hell of a lot of mileage so I wanted a diesel. In the end I got the car I'm writing this review on: A 1999 (V) Ford Focus 1.8TDdi [AC] LX Estate. It cost me £1,600. Got 104K miles (106K now) and had had a full service history til 79K, with a cambelt change at the last service. And to be so blunt, I'm chuffed to bits with it. Anyway, so lets get down to business.
- The engine. On the Focus timeline there are two types of diesel engine. The TDdi and the TDci. The latter came along later to be the diesel engine now used in new Fords, it's more powerful, slightly more economic and basically a more refined engine. Well, I couldn't afford that, so I've got the old engine instead. And when I say old, I mean it's old, you find it as far back as the Mk3 Fiestas, although they didn't have it fitted with the turbo. This engine produces 90bhp, and despite what you may find in other reviews around the interweb, this is a brisk engine. Really nippy thing and is great for short kickdowns when you're overtaking. The only bad thing I have to say is the noise it makes, it's rather loud, I even have friends who have claimed it to sound just like a black cab, but it doesn't really bother me if I'm honest.
- Features. This is the LX model. Which is mid range. Focuses at this age have 4 possible trim levels; The CL, LX, Ghia, Zetec. It hasn't got much to talk about really, electric windows at the front, remote central locking, air conditioning, electric tailgate realease from dash and key, radio with CD changer compatibility and an audio remote control. Which for me, is more than enough, since my first car was an old Peugeot and it didn't even have an intermittent windscreen wiper speed.
- Interior. I can understand what all the fuss of this car was about when it was first released. The interior is quite startling for todays standards never mind 10 years ago. It's very curvy and bubbly and diaganol with lots of sweeping lines and humps in the dash. Which is great, because it stands out and it says that Ford were taking a risk to stand out. And they've done so brilliantly in my opinion. Material wise, the interior could do with a bit more quality, but it's far better than the quality of a French interior. Having said that the interior is well put together, and you can feel that. Apart from me breaking the handle on the glove box, although that is probably down to me being heavy handed. And the space in this is great, I've sat in a hatchback Focus before and it was spacious enough with a generous boot. But with the estate you've got great legroom and head room all round. And you've got a huge boot that gets even bigger with the 60/40 split rear seats. And it's easy to load with the wide, low tailgate.
- Exterior. I've not known anyone who actually dislikes the Focus' looks. And again, 10 years ago you can understand what all the fuss was about. In my opinion, this is a great looking car. Obviously not as good looking as the hatchback, but at least it's not as bad as the ever unpopular saloon version. The only thing I dislike about this car is the colour. It's that flat red that always seems to look different on every panel of the car, but luckily my Focus hasn't been a major victim of that, only the driver's side wingmirror casing has started to go a bit pink. What I do like though, and something I've not seen on another car before is the bonnet release. It's not down in one of the footwells, what you do is; Flip the Ford badge on the radiator grill. Stick the key in, turn it the the left to release it, then turn it to the right to open it.
- Price. Like I said earlier I payed £1,600 for mine. Which is the lowest you want to go for a diesel Focus if I'm honest. Looking at AutoTrader now, the diesel Focuses going for less have extremely high mileages, some touching 200K on an X reg! It is definitely worth saving up a bit more and going for one with the TDci engine. Although for reliability, so far, I can't fault the TDdi. Just make sure as you would with any car you give it a full test drive, check the history on the car and the interior to see if it's been looked after. Insurance is very cheap at just group 5! Tax costs £102/6 months and £187/12 months.
- Fuel consumption. Before I got the car I had a snoop around on Google looking for the mpg this thing does. But I couldn't get a solid number, some places said about 43, some said 60! But I can safely say this does around 50mpg, you could probably squeeze 55mpg out of her if you drive her like a herse.
- Conclusion. I can't ask more from this car if I'm honest, apart from a better colour. It's economical, practically a van with the seats down (which is good because I'm a carpenter in training), and it may be 10 years old now, but in the looks department just as fresh as it did when it was new. So I'd recommend this to anyone. Whether you're a family, or an 18 year old like me who needs space to lug things about.