A history lesson…
The Ford Focus replaced the legendary Escort back in 1998 to some controversy. The motoring world couldn’t believe the Blue Oval would kill off such a successful, praised and loved car as the Escort. This was not going to be an easy birth for the Focus.
Thankfully, though, Ford pulled off a rare feat: perfection. The Focus represented the first car in a long-line of future Fords which would drive better than any of its competition. The Focus was incredible; composed, good through the bends and, above all, fun. Its looks were controversial, but after a few years everyone came around. It became a sales success that even Ford weren’t prepared for.
Bang for your buck
The Focus continually tops the UK’s sales charts on a month-by-month basis, and it’s not hard to see why. With incredible reliability, a competitive list price and all the tech you’ll ever need, the Focus is a complete no-brainer for the car-buying public; it’s become the de-facto standard hatchback.
Whether it’s the Zetec model or Ghia, all Focus models are well-equipped and a joy to drive. Boot space is impressive, interior quality – especially on post-2002 models – is very good, and the dials and instruments have a chunky feel to them.
Most cars come with ABS, power-steering and a CD-player, but if you want a bit more luxury and toys, you’ll need the Ghia model of ST hot hatch.
What you’ll pay
Thanks to the millions of different variations Ford has given us over the years, used car prices for the Focus are very affordable. For early 1998 models, you’re looking at anywhere from £1,800 to £3,000 for a decent motor. Obviously, the newer Focus models are more expensive but they do come with considerably more kit, performance and economy.
What to check
The Focus has enjoyed world-wide success, thanks mainly to its reliability and handling. They’ve been described as one of the most reliable cars available by several motoring journalists, so as long as you keep your eye-out for any basic problems, you should have worry-free motoring.
Ford is famous for having pretty reasonable prices for its parts, thanks to a massive dealer-network. Brake pads are around £25 a front set with rear shoes around £45, a replacement headlamp is close to £80, while a full exhaust is about £200. Dampers are around £40 each and a radiator about £100.
How it drives
This is where the good stuff lies. The Ford Focus is, quite simply, the best driving hatchback on the market. Whether you choose a pre-facelift or a new one, your Focus will keep you smiling every day until you sell it. It has a fantastic rear-suspension set-up which keeps the Focus planted and competent round the bends.
The driving position is pretty much spot on, and with the ST and RS models – which are fire-breathing powerhouses – you’ll be pumping out more adrenaline than your body can take. It’s a driver’s car is the Focus, and if you like your driving it’s really the only hatch you can buy.
Performance is reasonable across the entire range, economy is awful on the RS but for the diesels and smaller capacity petrols, it’s really not too bad at all. Most models should get you at least 40mpg, if not more.
It’s a car you should buy if you want reliability, performance, build-quality and excitement.