By on March 5, 2007

ford_focus_sedanst_2007_450x225.jpgEight years ago, when giant SUV's roamed this fair country virtually unchallenged, The Blue Oval slipped the Ford Focus into the American market. Now that gas prices have U.S. consumers thinking small, you'd think that FoMoCo would be battling Fits, Versas and Yari with an updated version of their Eurobox. Nope. As far as Ford’s engineers and PR department are concerned, the Focus has fallen off the face of the earth. Which might just work in your favor.

A quick reminder: the budget-minded Focus has always ranked among the roomiest, nimblest and sharpest-steering cars in its class. What’s more, the class has grown fatter during the Focus’, uh, golden years. And the Focus range includes a “sport” model priced within reach of poverty-stricken pistonheads: the $17,040 ZX4 ST.

From the curb, the Focus communicates a certain small-car geek chic. Once conspicuously gawky, its tall roof and bluff bodysides fit right in with 2007’s Stay-Puft Sentras, Spectras and Corollas. A 2005 freshening took the squint out of the Focus’s face, with wider, brighter headlamps and a puckered-up grille. The ST looks, um, cute.

07fordfocus_04.jpgAlas, “cute” turns to “crusty” upon popping the Focus’ doors. Perhaps feeling the effects a few (hundred) drunken choruses of “Workin’ in a Coal Mine,” Ford’s stylists trimmed the ST’s cabin in a black-lunged pastiche of hard, hollow plastics. Who knew there were that many shades of black? Even stranger: the colors and many of the textures don’t quite match from panel to panel. Buttons and bin lids feel tenuously affixed.

Fortunately, Ford blessed the ST with a fabulously foamy set of seats from which to survey the cabin’s car-nage. Unfortunately, these comfy thrones sit high off the floor, affording a loathsome “perched on a beach ball” sensation. Other ergonomic gripes: the swing-down center armrest is a shameless elbow-banger, the tach lacks a redline indicator and the entire pedal assembly jiggles when your Merrell snags the clutch.

Speaking of clutching, clutch you must (a pose-o-matic slushbox is not offered). Pity, then, that the five-speed manual lacks gearhead-grade tactility. The springy, long-travel clutch and numb, floppy shifter serve as constant reminders that you’re flying economy class.

ford-focus22.jpgThe ST’s engine offers something of an upgrade. Though there are only 151 horses in its 2.3-liter stable, the ST’s Mazda-sourced four is a sweetheart. The mini-mill delivers sparkling throttle response, a dainty exhaust snort and a smooth, remarkably even flow of torque. Sixty miles per hour arrives after a brisk canter, in 7.9 unstressed seconds. According to the EPA, the little Focus that could burns a gallon of gas in 23 (city) or 32 (highway) miles.

Of course, all of this powertrain palaver misses the point of the Focus, and in particular, the ST: handling. Nudge its fat little leather-wrapped steering wheel off-center, and— Holy path control, Batman! This little Focus really turns! Yes Boy Wonder, we can revel in a mechanism that’s as sharp as the dashboard’s mold flashing. Course corrections Batman? Forget ‘em chum. With this helm, your first order is always the right one.

Ford could have specced teeth-chattering springs and shocks to drive home the ST’s sport-compact message. In fact, its long-travel suspenders are mild and resilient over the bumps. Combined with the booster-seat driving position, which (literally and figuratively) distances the driver from the contact patches, this supple tuning lends the ST a more mature, mass-market flavor than econoboxes aimed at Vin Diesel devotees. The all-season 205/50R-16 Pirellis, meanwhile, leave a thin margin for adrenal exuberance between speed limit and adhesion limit.

But if the ST’s flesh, er, rubber is weak, the spirit is willing. Dive into a corner on a trailing throttle and try not to smile. The Ford’s pudgy tail feints outward as the front tires scrabble for grip. Gathering it up is as easy as making the monthly payments. Just remember to brace yourself against the door panel– those comfy chairs have all the lateral support of a Barcalounger.

07fordfocus_02.jpgDoes all of this make the Focus a competitive product, a viable alternative to the Camcordima? Not to Joe or Jane Average. In a typical dealer-lot once-over, they’ll survey the Focus’ cabin’s Tyco plastics, its spotty ergonomics and its weak features list— head-curtain air bags, an MP3 jack, and rear-seat headrests are all conspicuously absent— and make a “Bold Move” toward their nearest transplant retailer.

Let them flee. While occupying the humble end of the thrill scale, the ST represents a rare victory for enthusiasts. It supplies most of the qualities we crave in a budget ride, while flunking enough mainstream requirements to generate fire-sale prices. As of this writing, Ford offers a $2500 factory bribe on 2007 models. Make them an offer. You’ll find that purchasing an ST is like buying a car at Sam’s Club, only cheaper.  

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89 Comments on “Ford Focus ZX4 ST Review...”


  • avatar

    The total lack of incremental improvement and reinvestment in Fords winners like the Focus, Ranger, Taurus, Lincoln towncars, the LS, and the crown vic is astounding.

  • avatar
    shaker

    In the Pittsburgh PA area, out of 9 local dealers, there have been 2 ST’s on the lots in an 8 month period (one was an 06′ leftover), and the last one I saw was last summer. Apparently, they’ve been supplanted by ZX4 SE’s and SES’s (with the 2.0), which has better EPA numbers, and (due to FoMoCo’s inexplicable options groupings) commands more sticker price for less car. (Want a tach with that 5-speed? You’ll need to find an SE with the “Sport Group”. Oh, there’s one, but it doesn’t have cruise control (convienence group). Oh, look! Here’s one that has both, and SES! Oh, wait… it has the “Street Apperance Packgace” ($1300). and the MSRP is now $18,900!
    As you can tell, been there, done that. That 19K Focus can now be had for 16K ($3K in national/regional rebates). I went to look at the car in person (dealer closed). It certainly didn’t look like a 19K (or 16K!) car, even with the Street Appearance Plastic. For that money, there are alternatives; but, if Ford is willing to knock off $5000, maybe we’ll talk…
    (BTW, that 19K Focus has been on the lot for 6 months.)

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    They’ve tried, just not in the right direction. I like the car’s previous interior design, and it was a mistake for them not to bring over the European market RS.

    They could’ve had it easy with the Focus, but instead the American market once again gets shafted, while the rest of the world gets the good stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      4hateofford

      Well, I got my 2006 focus late 2005 after I found the civic being sold for over 4K over sticker. Ford Mustang had just unveiled their new body style and they were not even in stock. I got my ST4, SES for just under 13K. Now it has 170K miles and just smogged (Calif) with 0.00″s across the board. Black with dark windows and 18 inch wheels, I did make a good purchase. It drives great and had cost me nothing in repairs until today, $250 dollars on a new smog pump. I took it to get smogged right after and it passed without a problem. I replaced the original stereo with a USB CD player by Clarion, all 6 speakers and the windows tinted as soon as I drove it off the lot. It has been a great car and I recommend it to any one looking at the civics or hyunday. The 2.0 dual overhead cam engine is bullet proof, all the others are crap, performance and reliability wise.

  • avatar

    The interior plastics do at least look less cheap in black. I much prefer it to the gray in most Foci.

    The seats are mounted well off the floor, but are you sure you had them lowered all the way? The last time I had a Focus as a rental I drove it for 15 minutes with the seat absurdly high before I remembered that there’s a manual height control in an unusual hidden location, under the forward edge of the seat, behind your right calf. I suspect that many previous renters never discovered it.

    Good point, noting the $2,500 rebate. With it and dealer discounting, you can pick one of these up for much less than a Honda Fit Sport. Each car has its advantages and disadvantages, but the advantages of the Focus include acceleration and handling. What are your priorities?

    To see how it stacks up:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Focus.php

    To get the ST, select the sedan and the 2.3.

  • avatar

    On another note, the SES is the best value in the line, much better than the S or SE. You get a lot more stuff, including 16-inch alloys with the same tires as the ST, for just a bit more cash.

    And all of them are even better values as nearly new rather than new cars.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Autoweek branded the upcoming 2008 Focus a NAIAS “Loser”, too little, too late. Supposedly Ford has spent so much money for the these last two updates to the C170 platform that it ended up costing more than if C1 had been brought over instead. Whoops.

  • avatar
    Chaser

    What about the reliability? My ex-girlfriend had tons of problems with her Focus. Electrical glitches, brakes that had to be repaired 3 times in 18 months (and that Ford refused to warranty), a seat that literally broke loose and started sliding around while she was driving…what a piece. One of her best friends also had a Focus with numerous issues. They started calling their cars the F*ck-us because it always f*cks us!

  • avatar
    ash78

    I've always liked the Focus, but I've always seen it straddle the econobox and midsize markets in the US, with little success (thanks in part to extensive early recalls and the mentioned lack of caring from FoMoCo). In the economy realm, 23/32 just doesn't quite cut muster to the average driver when you've got the Toyonda compacts pushing 40mpg, at least on paper. And the 150bhp doesn't scream "performance" to many people. Unfortunately, that means many appropriate buyers probably won't ever get behind the wheel to experience the nice driving character.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Another possible hit rots on the vine. Will domestics ever learn that models need to be refreshed (at least)?

  • avatar
    shaker

    Even though the 2008 Focus isn’t available in a hatch version, Ford touts (on their website) a car that would fit nicely below it:
    “The all-new Mazda2 is more than just a model freshening of the current Mazda2. In 2002, the Mazda6 heralded the arrival of Mazda’s new generation of Zoom-Zoom vehicles, and now the Mazda2 becomes the first of these to evolve to the next level. As such, the new Mazda2 represents the progression of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom brand promise. Plans to import Mazda2 to North America continue to be considered. However, at this time, there is no current intention to do so.”
    Another bold (dumb) move.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    I wonder if Mazda will survive when Ford takes it’s final dirt-nap? Kind of hope so. I’ve always kind of liked Mazdas, though never owned one. Came close to buying once, but the dealer was so awful I could not bear to walk back into their showroom for, oh, about 10 years, never mind buy a car there. I felt like the fly caught in the BIG spider’s web when at that dealer. I think if I’d have left the keys, they’d have “stolen” my potential trade-in and “disappeared” it, that’s how bad they were.

    Same dealer “lost” the Mazda, dropped Isuzu, now sells used cars only. (Run away – run away!)

    There’s a new Mazda dealer in town now and I actually advised an elderly couple at church to consider a Mazda 6 to replace a Oldsmobile sedan. A Jeep salesman got them into a Compass instead (GAK!) on a lease (double GAK!). I knew I should have gone with them shopping…

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Sorry if that appeared off topic – in reality, it’s not – because “FORD (cars)” = MAZDA redux.

  • avatar

    “Holy path control, Batman! This little Focus really turns! Yes Boy Wonder, we can revel in a mechanism that’s as sharp as the dashboard’s mold flashing. Course corrections Batman? Forget ‘em chum.”

    Absolutely brilliant writing. That’s why I come here. Thanks bunches.

  • avatar

    Remember when the Focus first came out and they had a 3-door Kona version, complete with cool details and a fairly nice bike as part of the package. Well I bought one, after test driving it and oohing and ahhing over the asphalt-chewing handling and oh-so-sticky rubber. This little car was beyond question the best handling little rod to be had for less than 15K ever!!!! And to be fair, in the 2 years I had it I did not have any problems at all. I actually sold the bike for about $500 and then the car a couple years later privately for not much less than what I paid for it.

    Point – Ford can design and build competitive little cars, and the Focus should have been given far more attention in terms of evolving and improving it with each iteration. Now its just plain average. Too bad! There is definitely an object lesson in all of this for Ford as well as GM and DCX. Caliber, for example, is a nice start and sales look good, but will they listen to industry analysts and reviewers and actually improve it to make it everything it can be, and to perpetuate the initial success. Focus was also a sales success story at the start as I recall; then it was allowed to sit as other segment vehicles passed it by.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Wow, sounds more fun (for less $$$) than the Civic LX that I tested. Too bad handling prowess isn’t enough to get Honda-folk to cross-shop this ride, and you can’t blame them for not even trying.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    starlightmica: did Autoweek mention that the C170 vs. C1 cost or did you get that info somewhere else?

    I always wanted to believe that de-contenting the C1 to entry level USA specifications was the right move, even without knowing any relevant financial info.

  • avatar
    John

    This is an almost good car built in an almost decent manner by an almost cares company and sold by Ford Truck Dealers who also stock a couple of cars.

    Anyone thinking about a Ford Focus really needs to test drive a Civic first. Sure the Civic will cost a few $k extra up front, but even many years later that difference will come back to you at resale time. A seven year old Focus is worth $3-4k as a private party sale while a similarly equipped used 2000 Civic goes for nearly $7k (according to Edmunds.com). Then you must consider the hassle factor of the Ford’s high in-warranty repair rates and the cost factor of Ford’s higher post warranty repair rates. The Civic runs away with the game compared to this lame effort.

  • avatar
    John

    P.S. If you want lots of fun for not much money and are willing to trade off reliability, then the VW Jetta or Rabbit are more compelling than the Focus. With either the Ford or the VW you are supporting those hard working Mexican car factory workers!

  • avatar
    swoop

    I know 4 different owners of this car (a focus group?) and every one of them has been saddled with endless repair issues.

    They all said it drove well, but was a total P.I.T.A to own.

    Too bad.

  • avatar

    Love my Mazda3. If you yearn for the euro Focus then look no further. It’s a wonderful car. I shopped many models including the WRX and the Mazda3 was the best value by far. I didn’t even consider the Focus though. It’s just too dated and seems to be the choice of elementary-school teachers.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    I’m an elementary school teacher and can tell you that teachers like Toyotas, Hondas and SUVs. Subarus are also very popular, but I’m in Colorado. However, I agree with you about the Mazda3 being a great value.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The Focus existence seems to prove the lack of, you know, by Ford at product refreshes. The fact they didn’t bring over the Euro Focus and correctly marketing it to the Mini customers is surprising…. maybe they could’ve slapped a Mazda badge on it.

    There’s an idea. Badge re-engineering a quality product. Ford, are you listening? Stop it with the Tore-ass X and give us the Euro Focus!

  • avatar
    Glenn

    Last June, I test drove the Focus ST for 24 hours and came close to buying it. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the body styling or the interior, but the price was right and it drove very well. I had my decision made for me when my wife told me–only half-jokingly–that I was free to buy it, but that she wouldn’t be seen in it. Now, right or wrong, she’s something of a brand snob, and her reaction was extreme, but she is one of the millions of potential car buyers who won’t even consider a Ford- or GM-badged car (she does, however, think Saabs are still cool; she doesn’t follow cars, so whenever she remarks on a Saab, I always remind her that it’s a GM product and her reaction is tempered). At the risk of stating the obvious, we live in an increasingly brand conscious society, and in terms of brand association, Ford and GM, I think, are at the kind of disadvantage from which they simply could not possibly recover, even if they had the money at hand to really make a go at doing so.

    I ended up buying a VW new GTI coupe, with which I’ve been very happy (although I spent $5K more). One more point: my wife asked me, when I was considering the Focus, how long I’d be happy with it. It was a good question. Although I imagine I’d continue to be happy with its driving characteristics, the appearance (it’s damnably ugly, I think) and, I have to admit, image would have made me want to get something new quite soon.

  • avatar
    svensk

    What? 23/32…My wife’s grand am gt v6 just about gets those numbers.
    Does the focus have a short gear ratio? Might explain some of it.

  • avatar
    hondaboy55

    oops hondaboy writing as “john”

  • avatar

    Quote: I know 4 different owners of this car (a focus group?) and every one of them has been saddled with endless repair issues.

    Same here! One has had to take out a loan to keep up with repairs with only 70K miles on it. Total piles.

    John

  • avatar
    hondaboy55

    Geeeez…. 20 people comment in the time it takes me to read it and the 4 comments….

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    To any Focus expert, isn’t there a used Focus sweet spot, somewhere between when Consumer Reports actually recommended the Focus, that its reliability had improved enough to get best small car (maybe I’m wrong on that), and the ugly model refresh? I’m thinking the 2004 maybe 2005 five-door hatch? I’ve always liked the Focus hatch, and I can’t afford to think about a Mazda 3 with my mortgage. Isn’t there even a Focu aftermarket?

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    IIRC, CR named the Focus a best pick in 2004.

    An upset co-worker stormed into my cubicle back then, wanting to know how the hell that happened. I don’t remember my exact answer, but it had something to do with plenty of recalls over at Toyota at the time.

  • avatar
    blautens

    I’m shipping this segment right now for my daughter…I drove a 2001 Focus SE wagon for a few days two weeks ago, and a 2006 Ford Focus briefly for a test drive. Run! Run away! First, on the new models – Ford cheapened the interior to it’s dreary limits. I actually preferred the old interior.

    Second, every used Focus I’ve driven or been in now should be taken as an example in what NOT to do in NVH engineering. Insert buzzy engine in poorly constructed car – hit resonant frequency – feel every part shake as your vision distorts.

    This is in stark contrast to every used Honda 4 cylinder I’ve owned or shopped for lately – no near fatal NVH problems. And I’m no Honda Fanboy – my current sleds are a Chevy and a Lexus. But in this market of a bargain small car for my daughter…what stacks up as well as a used Honda? (A used Corolla? Maybe…)

    Look, I agree, I had a good time whipping the Focus around corners. It’s fundamental handling goodness has NOT been killed by the Ford bean counters. It’s also a very practically packaged car. But the nasty NVH, the interior bits literally decaying in a few years use, and its dubious longevitity and maintenance issues aren’t good enough for a healthy company – let alone Ford.

  • avatar

    Looks alone would discouraging me from the Focus. It has a fish face, and not much artistic integrity. When my girlfriend has trouble falling asleep I recite the “ugly car alphabet,” which usually sends her off quick. Needless to say, the Focus is F.

    Someone above mentioned that the Caliber is off to a good start. Another plug-ugly, it has replaced the Cayenne as C on the ugly car alphabet.

  • avatar

    jpc0067 – The answer is a used 2005.

    I love the “no photo” available pic..It reminds me of a campaign Ford of Canada did a few years ago and about which I wrote the following,

    “If You Like the Spice Girls, There’s No Ford for You

    Wow, am I ever late in finding the Ford of Canada Fordcast website, a “unique collection of 10 different online radio stations, brought to you by Ford of Canada.”
    Thanks Ford Canada marketing, now I can pretend I’m on an airplane while sitting at my desk.
    Each station selection is accompanied by a photo of a Ford vehicle targeted at the specific listening audience, except for the “Best of 90′s Pop” and “Full Club”. Apparently if you’re a Spice Girls fan (the group playing when I selected the station), there’s no Ford for you.
    The channels accompanied by pics were,
    Alternative Rock: Focus (song playing was by Incubus..how is this a fit?)
    Adult Contemporary: Thunderbird
    Rock 90′s: Mustang
    Today’s Hit Radio: Taurus?
    Hit Country: F-150
    Electronica: Ford Escape. (Looking at the photo, apparently this vehicle can float above grass).
    Classic Rock: Freestyle
    Pop/Rock: Freestar
    Jazz: Lincoln LS
    Hot Urban: Lincoln Navigator”

  • avatar
    hondaboy55

    I have not been in a focus. I did however get in and drive around in a brand new from the factory 81 Escort.
    (I think that was the year they came out?) And new fresh you couldn’t focus on anything out the rear view mirror because of vibrations from the engine. And as time marched on I knew lots of the people who got one and by 80,000 miles the engine was pretty much done. I drove an 82 with a 5 speed and on the highway the only way you could use 5th was down hill, but why bother, so it was pretty much a 4 speed. I also knew a guy who wanted his Pinto back after a few months in the escort.

    So I’m wondering, have any of you had experiences with both escorts, and focuses? What have your experiences been and please give all the details. I remember the escort wasn’t that great, but it was fun like the review of the focus, it was a fun car to drive but I don’t really know why.

    Was there a marked improvement between these cars? Seriously.. I would like to hear it from owners of the two cars.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Sajeev:

    The Focus cost was mentioned very briefly in a paragraph that January print issue of Autoweek, no actual number figures were given. I have not been able to find the paragraph online.

    I now have a Mazda5 as a daily driver. The C1 has had some fine chassis development, even in an overloaded little microvan, powered by the same engine as this Focus.

  • avatar

    Saturday’s mail brought me an invitation from Ford to come in and test drive any Ford/Lincoln/Mercury product and offered me $75 if I send in a postcard proving that I did so after the test drive.

    I’d been thinking about test driving a Focus, but this review pretty much killed that idea.

    Maybe I’ll just take a Crown Vic out and see what new cars were like during the first President Bush’s reign.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Why would I want a Focus instead of a Mazda3? The Mazda3 has the same peppy 2.3L engine, but with a better interior design, better exterior (though beauty is in the eye of the beholder), better resale (though not on a par with Honda or Toyota), and is available with a manumatic, if that is your preference.

    I was worried that Ford “quality” would rub off on Mazda, but it doesn’t seem to have happened so far.

  • avatar
    NickR

    ‘in terms of brand association, Ford and GM, I think, are at the kind of disadvantage from which they simply could not possibly recover, even if they had the money at hand to really make a go at doing so. ‘

    I agree, and that is probably the single biggest reason I think one or more of them will go bust. And it is for much the same reason that some brands seem to be untouchable. Mercedes put in another dismal performance in Consumer Reports, but that is rarely mentioned. Minis are junk, but people love them.

    I agree that Ford’s allowing the Taurus, the Focus, and the Crown Vic to wither on the vine doesn’t help. But, I honestly believe there is a generation, probably two, that dismiss the Big 3′s products out of hand. The only exceptions are a few brands (Jeep) or models (Corvette, Mustang) that have massive brand equity on their own.

  • avatar
    86er

    “Sherman Lin:
    The total lack of incremental improvement and reinvestment in Fords winners like the Focus, Ranger, Taurus, Lincoln towncars, the LS, and the crown vic is astounding.”

    That’s because the Crown Vic was deemed perfect the very same year it was placed on its current platform in 1979.

    I joke (and exaggerate) about this with some lament because I would very much like to own a full size vehicle without having to purchase something designed for senior citizens.

  • avatar

    svensk: “What? 23/32[MPG]…My wife’s grand am gt v6 just about gets those numbers.”

    Also pretty close to the MPG numbers the 2006+ Civic Si gets. But that’s a $20K car (and it prefers premium grade gas).

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Well, if you’re unsure about the current Focus, check out the 2008. A guaranteed disaster. And since Ford is bringing back old names, they should call it the Tempo, because that’s what the ’08 reminds me off. What a waste of big $$.

    My son briefly had a new ’05 ZX3, got it new, with alloys, etc. for $11K. A ball to drive. And as a tall person, I really like the Focus architecture. I don’t like crawling into chopped-top low-riders.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Lumbergh21:

    Last time I checked, a Mazda3s 2.3 starts $5k more than what Paul Niedermeyer’s son paid for his ZX3. C1 based vehicles are not dirt cheap – Volvo’s asking quite a lot for the S40/V50/C70, and the C30 sounds like it’s going to be well north of $20k.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    My family owned at least 4 Gen 1 Escort based vehicles. Believe it or not they were not junk. What HondaBoy says is true – buzzy and total dogs at 50 HP or so. Still, you could beat the hell out of them (and I did at age 16/17) and they would hold together.

    We never experienced the head gasket failures, even though a couple went over 100K before we got rid of them. No real issues on any of them.

    I was in my Mom’s 82 with an auto trans in 1984. My buddies and I were on our way home from our “Engineering Explorers” meeting at the local power plant. On the east side of Monroe there used to be a very brutal steep rail crossing. The grade was so steep that every time a semi-truck tried to cross it bottomed out and got stuck. Anyhoo – we decided to put out seat belts on (never used to wear them), and also for fun put on our hard hats that they gave us at the plant. Right before I hit the crossing going about 30 MPH I thought “Uh oh. Waaaaayyyyy too fast.” With God as my witness all 4 wheels were at least 5 feet off the ground. I thought the struts would come through the fenders. In the end the car took a couple of monster bounces and kept on going. It should be noted that 5 years later my sister was driving on the X-way in Orlando when the entire right front suspension separated from the car. No injuries reported.

    Foci, when introduced in 1999, would have been good to great cars if it were not for the bean counter cost cutting. The quality was just terrible. Not build quality, but component quality. I know a guy who has had all 4 door latches rust out in turn. Wheel bearings rusting? How long has Ford been building cars with wheel bearings?

    Quality may have improved, but obviously the car has been starved for development, as noted above. It’s a shame.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    I always liked the Focus as far as rental cars go. Unfortunately, most of what you can get in this class as rentals are Cobalts and Calibers. I went to the UK in the summer of 99 and saw all these Foci everywhere, and I was so glad when they brought them here to replace the Escort. Now, here we are 8 years later with the same damn car. Since then, we have seen 3 generations of Civic, 2 generations of Corolla, and 3 Sentra’s worth. Astounding indeed. As far as Focus vs. Mazda3 goes, how can a Focus even have a chance without a “fire sale” price? Talk about setting yourself up for failure.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I looked at an 05 Focus ZX-5. I didnt like the interior much, and it was too slow for my tastes.

    I ended up buying a Certified Used Mercury Grand Marquis LSE for quite a bit less money. A used Panther with 40,000 miles will outlast any brand new 4 cylinder sedan out there.

    Just this morning I did a “Dukes of Hazzard” slide through the intersection making a right turn (traction control off of course).

    Yeee-Haaah!

  • avatar
    Ryan

    I haven’t driven a Focus yet, but I used to own a second generation Escort, which I loved. It was a little cheap (although it never felt offensively so), and slow (even with 88hp, 0-60 was still over 14 seconds), but it was nimble, and pretty reliable (my roommate has a ’93 that’s running fine even with 325k kms). I remember the motor being a little harsh at idle, but after that it was alright.

    Basically, the car generated enough goodwill that I’d consider a cheap used Focus (although I prefer the looks of the original car to the refresh).

  • avatar
    kablamo

    Why would I buy a Focus when I could get a 2-3 yr old Mazda3 for a similar price? Or I could get a used RSX (S?). If you don’t want too sporty, a gently used Civic or Corolla, 2003/2004 or 2005 vintages cost about the same, would probably have comparable reliability (and durability), and similar to better fuel economy.

    The Focus just doesn’t have anything going for it. The price isnt good enough. Its reputation is already soiled by many (although not all) lemons. It’s not class-leading anything. It’s not especially good looking. It’s just too far behind the competition. The Mazda2 looks promising mind you.

  • avatar
    hondaboy55

    On tonights business news Ford said 2007 will be profitable, and they are selling Astin Martin. Possible sale of assets will push them into the plus column for the year.

  • avatar
    Lamborghini48907

    Getting this car for cheap doesn’t make it worth it. The interior is awful, worst in class, the exterior is old simply put, and while it drives decent it has become light years behind the competition. If I were shopping in this market I would never even consider it, yes the other cars in the segment (i.e. Mazda 3, Honda Civic, etc) are going to sell for higher, but that’s because:

    a) They are MODERN econo-cars, this is from an entirely different generation
    b) They will hold their resale value, the buyer will make up some of what he/she lost when paying more to begin with, because a Mazda 3 actually retains it’s value over time, unlike the Focus.
    c) The competitors have better reliability, this is a face, a Civic will last years longer than this.
    d) The interior on this is unacceptable. It would be considered shoddy even if it was placed in a ultra low priced econo-car like the Yaris, Fit, etc, much less the category which contains such gorgeous interiors like the Mazda 3 and Honda Civic.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Starlightmica:

    “Last time I checked, a Mazda3s 2.3 starts $5k more than what Paul Niedermeyer’s son paid for his ZX3. C1 based vehicles are not dirt cheap – Volvo’s asking quite a lot for the S40/V50/C70, and the C30 sounds like it’s going to be well north of $20k.”

    If that’s the case, I stand corrected. There is a valid reason to get a Focus. However, when I was looking for a new car in 2004, I could have had a fully loaded (except manual instead of auto transmission) Mazda3 with the 2.3L engine for $17.5k and that was the sticker price. I bet I could have talked them down considerably seeing as it was the last 04 on their lot, and it was December 2004. I ended up with a Mazda6s for $17.5k instead and haven’t regretted buying it since.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Sorry, I hadn’t read Paul Niedermayer’s post. Wish I could edit my posts. :-)

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Starlightmica: “Autoweek branded the upcoming 2008 Focus a NAIAS “Loser”, too little, too late. Supposedly Ford has spent so much money for the these last two updates to the C170 platform that it ended up costing more than if C1 had been brought over instead. Whoops.”

    I keep hearing how expensive it would have been if Ford had brought the C1 Focus over to replace the C170 Focus (which the 2008 is still based upon). Personally, I think it’s all a load of crap. The Mazda3 is based on the C1, has gotten initial (and continues to get) rave reviews, and, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing exceptionally cost prohibitive about it. Ford simply made piss-poor decisions on the Focus’ future with a light exterior/interior makeover in 2005, and now a complete reskin in 2008, but all still on the same, tired C170 chassis/drivetrain that’s going on ten years old. Hell, the ST’s 2.3L engine won’t even be available on the 2008.

    Boweled Moves, indeed.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Nick R:

    “I agree, and that is probably the single biggest reason I think one or more of them will go bust. And it is for much the same reason that some brands seem to be untouchable. Mercedes put in another dismal performance in Consumer Reports, but that is rarely mentioned. Minis are junk, but people love them.”

    Yeah, and try telling anybody looking for a luxury car that a Lexus is a better choice than a BMW or Mercedes. I got piled on at another site about “japanese appliance cars with no character” for suggesting such blasphemy. :-)

  • avatar
    hondaboy55

    Lamborghini48907; I think people in general don’t look at long term ownership, or resale value.
    I have seen neighbors who have owned Tauruses and had tons of troubles, simply to buy a new one because they got a good deal on it and then repeat the same mechanical problems all over again. When I tell them that the engine transmission, assemblies are basically the same as the one they just traded in they seem surprised.

    When I see something on the news about auto troubles, and then see a similar story again a few months later, I am always wondering is it short term memory, or do people just not learn.

    I remember seeing local news reports on TV about resale value, and being upside down on lease, or purchase of cars they are about to trade in that are just 2 to 3 years old and they owe more than its worth.

    And I have always wondered about why buying a car you are clearly not impressed with becomes acceptable when you get a few thousand dollars off on it. If they had to give you that much off on it new, what do you think its NEW Value really is?

    And more importantly, what do you think its resale will be if the entire production run had to be sold with a steep discount? Is that not in reality making that 20,000 vehicle into a $16,000 vehicle, and NOT that you got a REALLY GOOD deal on a $20,000 car, but in reality you paid sticker on a $16,000 car.

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    “Was there a marked improvement between these cars? Seriously.. I would like to hear it from owners of the two cars.”

    I think HUGE improvement between any Escort and Mk1 Focus.

    I happen to own a 2001 Focus ZX3 (replacement for my 87 Civic). While I can’t lie and say it’s been a reliability dream, despite its warranty-related niggles, I love driving the thing. No Corolla, Civic, Sentra or even Mazda3 has been as much fun to chuck around the city or on curvy country roads. And as far as the interior quality goes – it’s about what I’d expect for a $15k 2001 car (not a $18k 2007, mind). I think the original interior is waaaay better than Ford’s lame attempt at the 2005 minor model, with plastics from Fisher Price’s reject bin. (BTW, have you sat in a “new” Corolla lately – pretty crappy in there too)

    But here’s the kicker – as much as I love the little bastard, I’ve been toying with replacing it with a new ride in mid-$20k’s, but I can’t seem to find anything that’s a clear improvement over the Fuckus.

    I narrowed my search to GTI, MazdaSpeed3, and Civic Si. I really wanted to love the GTI – and it certainly was fun, but not a huge handling improvement over the Focus, plus it had some pretty horrendous plastics (check out the manual HVAC for some nasty plastic-on-plastic action). The “Mazda MazdaSpeed Mazda3″ had equally dismal interior plastics. I loved the powertrain & interior quality and styling of Civic Si, but alas I want a hatch, not some fat-ass sedan.

    My conclusion: Keep the Focus until the perfect package comes along (or I have enough dosh for the 3-Series I really want). Message to Ford: If you brought over the Mk2 Focus ST 5-door, you’d probably have one more buyer.

    Shame the Bold Moves boys are a bunch of blind, illogical cunts.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    hondaboy, great points about actual value of cars. First of all, buying a higher quality car for a few thousand more dollars isn’t going to affect your payment all that much if you play it right. Even if your budget is really that tight, then get a 2-3 year old car that is still more modern and reliable than a new Focus. Second, you will very likely get that money back later when it comes time to sell it. Around here, slightly used 2006 Civics are selling for nearly the price of new ones $18-19K. What does that say about Ford when they have to let a new Focus go for $5,000 less than MSRP? And what will that buyer get for it when they want to sell it 3 years down the road? How about 5 years?

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    "Was there a marked improvement between these cars? Seriously.. I would like to hear it from owners of the two cars." I think HUGE improvement between any Escort and Mk1 Focus. I happen to own a 2001 Focus ZX3 (replacement for my 87 Civic). While I can't lie and say it's been a reliability dream, despite its warranty-related niggles, I love driving the thing. No Corolla, Civic, Sentra or even Mazda3 has been as much fun to chuck around the city or on curvy country roads. And as far as the interior quality goes – it's about what I'd expect for a $15k 2001 car (not a $18k 2007, mind). I think the original interior is waaaay better than Ford's lame attempt at the 2005 minor model, with plastics from Fisher Price's reject bin. (BTW, have you sat in a "new" Corolla lately – pretty crappy in there too) But here's the kicker – as much as I love the little bastard, I've been toying with replacing it with a new ride in mid-$20k's, but I can't seem to find anything that's a clear improvement over the F–kus. I narrowed my search to GTI, MazdaSpeed3, and Civic Si. I really wanted to love the GTI – and it certainly was fun, but not a huge handling improvement over the Focus, plus it had some pretty horrendous plastics (check out the manual HVAC for some nasty plastic-on-plastic action). The "Mazda MazdaSpeed Mazda3" had equally dismal interior plastics. I loved the powertrain & interior quality and styling of Civic Si, but alas I want a hatch, not some fat-ass sedan. My conclusion: Keep the Focus until the perfect package comes along (or I have enough dosh for the 3-Series I really want). Message to Ford: If you brought over the Mk2 Focus ST 5-door, you'd probably have one more buyer.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    What amazes me is that they couldn’t borrow more parts from the MX-5 and still make that price point. They could have a better gear shift for sure, and much nicer interior.

    Why not? Why make another gear box for anything in this range when the one from the Miata is such a crowd pleaser?

  • avatar
    Dream 50

    Landcrusher:

    Umm, totally different architechture? If you can
    figure out how to get a gearbox designed for a RWD car into a FWD car, lemme know. The Miata’s unit is such a winner because the thing you stick your hand on is directly connected to the thingies spinning around inside. With a FWD, you need rods or cables or something similarly numbing to connect the shifter thingy to the gear thingies.

    However, Honda seems to have mastered the art of connecting shift levers to FWD trannies without sacrificing a whole lot of feel. Seriously, why are old Civics still so damn wonderful but new domestics are still so struggling?

    I digress.

  • avatar
    Arragonis

    It will be interesting to see how this goes nose to nose with the new Astra when that is brought across. A quick unscientific street survey here in the UK seems to suggest they are neck and neck in terms of sales, with Civics and Corollas way behind.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    i think american customers probably have lower demands for car quality, that`s how audi was still pushing sohc engines in late nineties in usa, but never in europe. americans need less texture, but more bang for the buck, more visible extras. cupholders, chrome, not the gapless sense of french riviera.still, american cars are unequivocally at such lower level in fit and finish, that they stand out as throwbacks, like a burger-flipper in waldorf-astoria. and from the unbelievable shrinking man, sorry car menu diversity; ford has managed to kill all in house platforms, saying- we are lunatics, we can`t create platforms, we are only good for installing carpets in cars,and turtle waxing. everything is based on mazda today. except trucks.why? because mazda is still not seriously in heavy duty truck or suv business, so ford has nothing to parasite from host. could mazda please buy out shares from ford, and show where they could go on their own. as if it was hard to guess. ford focus is a brilliant mazda, the one sold in europe. and i take off my hat in front of the country of rising sun. how yahoos managed to water down mazda platform to such muddy waters, is still a question. ford guys, why you just don`t call your focus, mazda, because it is close to zero domestic content. see, your sons listen to rap, dream of dot.com easy money, and don`t read popular mechanics any more. scoliosis and alopecia land. what a pity:(

  • avatar
    ash78

    Americans simply have demonstrated poor use of disposable income over the past 25 years, and the market has been catering to that disposable mentality. Unfortunately, people eventually come to their senses (usually when it’s forced on them, like high gas prices or increased unemployment). Relative to most places in the world, all of our cars are cheaper–and kept for a shorter time. This is a sad state of affairs for everyone, since both the customers (many of them) AND the manufacturers are very ingrained in this hand-to-mouth existence. Build a just-good-enough car, discount the crap out of it, then sell it to a guy on a 7-year plan so he can afford the monthly payments. I weep for personal financial freedom in the US.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Reply Lumbergh21:

    Yeah, and try telling anybody looking for a luxury car that a Lexus is a better choice than a BMW or Mercedes. I got piled on at another site about “japanese appliance cars with no character” for suggesting such blasphemy. :-)

    You are so right. Had Lexus not been a better choice, how can it reach the top of the sales chart from ground zero in just 9 years?

    Unrealiable cars are just junks, even though it may take some time before people realize that. MB was great and RR was great because they had unrivaled realiability in their early years. And now MB is about 4th or 5th on the American sales chart (after the 17 year old Lexus, BMW, Caddy and possibly Acura). If they continue to build cars of such low quality, they will die for sure.

  • avatar
    Gotta Chime In

    Wow! Sounds exciting to drive! I can’t wait to rent one!

    Wait … you want me to buy one? Are you nuts??

  • avatar
    Jeb Hoge

    I’d happily buy a 2004 Focus ZX3 as a beater. Chances are I wouldn’t be able to leave well enough alone and would ultimately fit it with the SVT suspension (supposedly there are enough extra strut/spring/swaybar sets left over from the SVTs that you can find them for about $300) and rims, and maybe some power adders. The Focus was the only hot hatch worth its salt in the US for quite a while, and while it may not be tight as a new Mazda, the fun-to-drive factor is startlingly high (same with my V6/5spd Contour).

  • avatar
    modemjunki

    Arragonis said:

    “It will be interesting to see how this goes nose to nose with the new Astra when that is brought across.”

    I got to drive a 5-speed Astra diesel last year in Germany, it was more than competent, pretty solid feeling with a bit of a punishing ride on some rough roads being repaired, but otherwise very well put together. I could see this car wiping the Focus off of the map – if the price is right.

    I’m quite surprised it took so long for someone (Jeb) to bring light to the SVT Focus – I picked up a used one for a very good price, and it’s quite a blast to drive, the car has superb manners. The fact that it’s quite buzzy is part of the flavor – for an SVT. It’s the grown-up version of my tweaked ’78 Fiesta, albeit with rather more space (and rather more reliable electrics).

    The interior of the new Focus is abysmal, as has been noted, if it had only been made of better materials, it might have been deemed “acceptable” for the price range. I wouldn’t even look at one of the current ones as a used car, in fact I bought a much older used Sable over any used Foci I found in my “commuter scooter” price range.

    To use one of those words I can’t stand hearing from my kids, I look at the current Ford car lineup and I say… “meh”.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    A friend of mine was pleased with his ZX3. He drove it over 150K miles for 2 or 3 years – never had any problems.

    He sold it cuz he needed a minivan for rugrat shlepping. It’s one of his biggest regrets…

  • avatar
    fahrvergnugen11

    Gotta Chime In:
    Wow! Sounds exciting to drive! I can’t wait to rent one!

    Wait … you want me to buy one? Are you nuts??

    Ford’s marketdroid response – “What if we throw in some rebates, 0% financing and other manufacturer incentives? Will that convince you? What do you say? “

  • avatar
    BEA

    Last December my Audi A4 was totaled by a hail storm and I wanted something quick and cheap. Ended up getting a Black 2007 Focus ZX4 SES with an automatic and safety package for 13.6K. This is about 5K cheaper that a Civic or Mazda 3 at about the same level.

    Many times when I get in the car I wonder what the hell was I thinking, but after driving it that feeling goes away. I really like how this car feels. I know the Mazda 3 is a better car, but I prefer how this one handles. Even the interior is laid out well. The arm rest, shifter and door handle are in the perfect position and shaped right. I like the doors auto lock feature and even prefer the seat height adjustment handle over the competitors. The reliability has also been good (only 3 month’s history).

    To me this cars shows that Ford has some good engineers and some real crappy managers. Only a soulless idiot would use the cheap plastics that this car has. Even though I like this car I suspect the cheap interior will drive me to get a new Accord or if my budget improves an A4 in two years.

    Whoever designed the Focus chassis was good. Would be curious to know if they still work for Ford or have moved on.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    fahrvergnugen11: “Ford’s marketdroid response – “What if we throw in some rebates, 0% financing and other manufacturer incentives? Will that convince you? What do you say?“”

    I say, “I’ll pass, because all those rebates, 0% financing, and other incentives (along with the tens of thousands of ex-rental cars unleashed on the public) means I’m really going to take it in the ass when trade-in time rolls around.”

    That’s why it’s worth it to spend the extra cash and get something decent. While it’s going to cost more initially and on the payments, you get a better car and you recoup a lot more of that money on resale value.

    With domestic rental crap like the Focus that may seem like a better deal, overall, it’s not because you lose your ass so badly on resale, big time.

  • avatar

    I could not get my eyes of the Focus hatch when they came out in 2000, specially the red ones.
    Now, Ford is the father of Mazda 3 and Volvo S40, why in the world would you leave the one model with your name on in the old chassis???
    I own a Mazda 3 hatch with the same 2.3 liter ford engine, it’s a joy ride every time, even with the 5 speed A/T.
    It’s about time for Ford to quit making this old Focus, it’s like saying “you Americans know nothing about cars”

  • avatar
    Lamborghini48907

    rudiger: You’re 100% right, my point exactly. Not only do you get the better deal in the end when you sell, you get a better product to drive day in and day out while you DO own it, not a piece of trash car that ends up selling for nothing when you finally get tired of it. Like the Focus, or any number of other domestic offerings.

  • avatar
    nino

    The real story as to why Ford didn’t bring the C1 Focus here ( as told to me by a Ford insider) was that along with higher selling prices – 4 door sedan version would have stickers of between $18,000 and $23,000 here in the States – the 4 door looked too much like a smaller version of the Ford 500 sedan that was already being criticized for its styling. Also, there was a real fear that the 4 door Focus would cannabilize sales from the new, higher margin, Fusion that hit Ford showrooms in 2006.

    In answer to those that say that a lower contented version of the Euro Focus could be competively sold here, my friend says that it would’ve been very difficult to produce a lower content version only for US sale as it would’ve required a re-engineer of systems to eliminate the large quantity of standard equipment that comes with the car (that’s what he really said). He mentioned that there was a plan to introduce a “Ford” front end on the Mazda3 to sell in the States, but cost concerns killed that as well.

    As far as a Focus ST is concerned, we will be getting the Volvo C30 3 door hatchback that will be spec’d out almost the same way as the Focus ST would’ve been. The C30 is expected to sell in the US between $27,000 to $28,500 and possibly as high as $30,000 in the US. My guy said that had the Focus ST made it here, it would have been similarly priced and that Ford felt there wasn’t enough cachet in the Ford name to pull off that kind of pricing for that category car in the US.

  • avatar
    nino

    Another interesting point my friend brought out:

    The Focus is a much better seller as a four door sedan than it ever was as a hatchback.

    Ditto for the Mazda3.

    He also points out the Civic isn’t available as a hatchback here.

    In Europe on the other hand, hatchbacks are BIG. To produce more four door Euro Foci for an uncertain sell in the US market, would’ve required a shift in production from hatchbacks that are certain sellers in Europe.

  • avatar
    nino

    rudiger: You’re 100% right, my point exactly. Not only do you get the better deal in the end when you sell, you get a better product to drive day in and day out while you DO own it, not a piece of trash car that ends up selling for nothing when you finally get tired of it. Like the Focus, or any number of other domestic offerings.
    _________________________________________________

    By this logic I should buy the Ferrari because it’s a good car that will be worth MORE as a trade-in.

    People that will consider a new car in the $15,000 (or less) price range, cross shop that car with others of the same price. If they take your advice and but a little better car for a few to $5,000 more, they can now compare that price with other cars of that price and on it goes.

    A better argument is to compare this $15,000 new car with 2 and 3 year old models of cars that are in the same price range.

  • avatar
    nino

    As far as realiabilty issues with the Focus, by late 2002 the Focus was as reliable as anything else out there in their class. The Focus was certainly more reliable than VW Golfs and Jettas of the time as well as the new Korean kids on the block. Really, only the Civic and Corolla were better.

    And for those that say the Focus is noisy and buzzy, take a ride in a Corolla of the same year with the same level of equipment. You’ll notice that the Corolla isn’t all that quiet either.

    I will say that the Civic has a…sound that does exude a certain “sumptin’ sumptin’”

  • avatar
    BEA

    I agree with this article, the Focus is an excellent handling car for the price.

    Not sure where the harsh depreciation comments are coming from. I have owned two Mazda’s and their resell was not that hot. Listed below are numbers pulled from Edmund’s and Kelley’s Blue Book.

    _______________________________________________
    Ford Focus, ZX4 SES 4dr Sedan w/Automatic & safety package

    MSRP Paid
    2007 $17,590 $13,644

    Trade Private Dealer Percent Delta
    2006 $10,068 $11,191 $12,109 89% $1,535
    2005 $8,497 $9,761 $10,795 79% $2,849
    2004 $7,281 $8,462 $9,428 69% $4,216
    2003 $6,961 $8,206 $9,278 68% $4,366
    2002 $5,017 $6,052 $7,015 51% $6,629
    2001 $3,970 $4,972 $5,925 43% $7,719

    _______________________________________________
    Mazda MAZDA3, i Touring 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl 4A)

    MSRP TMV
    2007 $18,720 $18,380

    Trade Private Dealer Percent Delta
    2006 $12,265 $13,337 $14,214 77% $4,166
    2005 $11,637 $12,738 $13,772 75% $4,608
    2004 $9,836 $10,906 $11,881 65% $6,499
    2003 $7,433 $8,795 $9,962 54% $8,418
    2002 $6,091 $7,302 $8,420 46% $9,960
    2001 $4,453 $5,464 $6,458 35% $11,922

    _______________________________________________
    Honda Civic, LX 4dr Sedan w/Automatic

    MSRP TMV
    2007 $18,355 $18,230

    Trade Private Dealer Percent Delta
    2006 $14,273 $15,410 $16,341 90% $1,889
    2005 $11,402 $12,709 $13,778 76% $4,452
    2004 $10,567 $11,646 $12,528 69% $5,702
    2003 $9,301 $10,463 $11,413 63% $6,817
    2002 $7,920 $9,067 $10,085 55% $8,145
    2001 $6,426 $7,593 $8,670 48% $9,560

  • avatar

    My wife and I both own Focus’, her’s is a 2002 ZTW with over 50k, and mine is a 2005 ST. Both have been very reliable and a blast to drive. The focus is fun car and handles very well, more so than many far more expensive vehicles. I prefer the dash in my wife’s car to the funeral black slab in my revised interior. Ford really screwed up by not investing in the Focus and letting it fall behind its rivals which have all now been replaced. Whoever was responsible for the decision not to import the European Focus should be fired. The move is incomprehensible, and showed pure ignorance and a lack of respect for US Ford customers. The ridiculous monstrosity that will be sold as a 2008 Focus in the US is a very poor replacement. Ford didn’t just drop the ball, they threw it away, and is now scrabbling around trying to find it again.

  • avatar
    shawn

    i used to own a 2004 ford focus ztw, with every option except the 6-disc… and i LOVED it. i actually liked the way it looked, and as everyone else has said, the way the car handled was amazing for the price range. however, like seemingly everyone else on this board, i had an inexcusable number of problems with my focus: it was in the shop 14 times in one year, and the dealer always said things like, “well… its a focus, what do you expect?”. clearly, this sort of treatment does not make a happy customer.

    the list of things that went wrong:
    -cd-player broke twice
    -passenger window motor got fried
    -driver switches for windows broke
    -sunroof got stuck in the open position… thankfully it didnt rain.
    -rear cambers were out of alignment from the factory and chewed up my two rear tires, which of course, ford refused to pay for.
    -accessory belt was cracked and made loud screaching noises.
    -rear drums had to be resurfaced 3 times because they groaned and squealed so loudly for no apparent reason.
    -front brakes had to be replaced after 35000km, NOT miles. kind of ridiculous…
    -car had so many rattles, i couldnt count, nor figure out where they were coming from.
    -front driver’s speaker blew…
    -”leather” was beginning to crack after a year

    Now, i am driving a 2006 Mazda5 GT… and here’s the funny thing. while the mazda is a great vehicle, i miss my ford focus.. a LOT. in fact, i really regret selling it. sure, the mazda5 is much more refined, has much better quality, is more reliable etc. but the focus was one of those cars that despite its problems, you loved. and also, the handling was superior to the mazda’s. i have yet to drive a vehicle that has steering feel and control that is as good as the focus’ was.

    if ford were to bring over the euro focus (not the crappy 2008 NA one), i think i would be very, very tempted to buy one… is ford listening?

  • avatar
    yasth

    BEA:
    Because you are taking $3946 off list on the Focus? I mean TMV prices for a ~$18000 list ended up $2874 under so you gave focus an extra 1000 bonus. Which means deadly death that first year.

    Also your mazda3 initial seems high.

  • avatar
    BEA

    Yasth:

    The $13,644 is the price I paid for the Focus so I am confident in that number. For the other two vehicles I used Edmund’s true market value, which is the best number I know of to determine likely purchase price.

    I am surprise that Edmund’s TMV price for this Focus is $15,127 that is $1483 higher than I paid without negotiating. Perhaps it is due to the fire sale mentally that Ford is under, or perhaps TMV runs high since you think the Mazda number is also high. Substituting the Focus purchase price with the Focus TMV value does not really change the result.

    Using TMV numbers across the board the amount of money lost at a one year trade-in: Ford – $5,059, Civic – $3,957, Mazda – $6,115. At a five year trade-in: Ford – $11,157, Civic – $11,804, Mazda – $13,927 (purchase – trade-in value). Assuming future depreciation follows past trends, the Focus should be cheaper than the other two cars to own after the first year. The only point I wanted to make is the Focus depreciation is not as horrible as being implied in this forum.

    BTW — I am not defending domestic automakers. Have hated the SUV craze from day one, and only completely incompetent management would not prepare for changing trends. In the 70’s when oil prices shot up I had sympathy for domestics. This time I only have contempt. — just trying to be accurate.

  • avatar
    Fritz

    I would be just fine with car manufacturers continuing to sell older versions of cars if the price reflected the age of the design. The older the design, the lower the price.

    In South Africa you can buy the same VW Rabbit that we had here in the USA in the mid-1980′s right aloing side the current Golf. Would I buy a new 80′s design VW Rabbit for $10K? Sure! Basic 4 cylinder car with a/c and power brakes, crank windows and if I want the upgrades I’ve got to buy the new design cars.

    My ’84 ‘vert had close to 200K miles on it when I sold it in ’94. My ’97 VW Cabrio has 138K miles on it now and is just fine. My VWs have been good cars.

    Americans are apparently a tough bunch to sell cars to. Too slow, quality too cheap, design is not new enough, plastics are too cheap on this $16K car, etc etc. Complian, complain, complain.

    I don’t care if the design is a bit dusty – just get the quality right so it doesn’t fall apart in 125K miles. I want a car that lasts 200K miles+

    If you want a good car, quit fussing about the “stale” design and encourage Ford to spend money on their quality problems. There is only so much money to design and build a car with. I’d rather keep the same old looks (with incremental “hidden” baby-step improvements aka old Beetle) to save money, so they can spend the budget on quality.

    I’d like to see more four door hatchback sedans in this class and/or more station wagons. Not bland cars with discount store hubcaps and no trim – but miniature sport wagons/hatches with decent trim. These are useful vehicles. Easy to load, lay down the backseats for larger cargo, usually good even with the seats up. Sorry – the Malibu Maxx ain’t got the looks. And don’t need the V6 if the 4-cylinger option is good (aka Honda/Toyota DOHC 16V quality engine). Ever looked at the Opel Vectra? The basic shape is just good. Not bloated and bland. Lean and trim looking. The Malibu here is almost right but then they Americanized it…

  • avatar

    I would be just fine with car manufacturers continuing to sell older versions of cars if the price reflected the age of the design. The older the design, the lower the price.

    Unfortunately the US emission and safety standards won’t allow that. If it’s sold as a new car and manufactured in 2007, an “80′s design VW Rabbit” would still have to meet the 2007 standards. You can imagine what that would do to the price, weight and performance of the car.

  • avatar
    Pinkerton

    John,
    The US market Focus is no longer made in Mexico, but in Michigan. The Hermosillo factory now makes F-Series :::rolls eyes:::. Also, the US market Golf (Rabbit) is now made in Wolfsburg Germany.

    > With either the Ford or the VW (Rabbit) you
    > are supporting those hard working Mexican
    > car factory workers!

  • avatar
    Fritz

    Yeah, I know. That is exactly what my ’97 Cabrio is – an updated Rabbit. Same suspension with minor changes, same engine with updates (EFI vs CIS injection), cosmetics, etc. Good car. Has required a few repairs but mostly due to previous owner’s neglect. Less than 1 new car payment in parts and I’ve done all of my own work. Whatever brand car you buy, get a GOOD (aka factory) repair manual. The Helms manual for my Honda and the Bentley Publishers manual for my VWs have paid for themselves again and again. Generally the first repair it facilitates pays for the book.

  • avatar
    Gotta Chime In

    Pinkerton,
    Not sure what you mean by US market Focus (different than NA Focus vs. Euro Focus?) but Ford still shows both plants producing the Focus. When I worked on the program, the builds were identical between the plants. Also, Dearborn Truck makes the F-150s and Kentucky Truck makes the F-Series; neither vehicle lines come from Mexico.

    http://media.ford.com/facilities/index.cfm?region=NA&region_id=182&make_id=trust

  • avatar
    VaderSS

    I own a base Focus ST. No extra options except for the perimeter alarm. This is one of the better reviews of the Focus ST. I feel that the reviewer mostly criticized the right things and concentrated on what sets this car apart.

    For me, this was the only Focus I would buy and the only American compact I’d buy. It had just enough power to satisfy me, and to me, best in class handling and response. I paid $14k for mine, and at that price, I felt it had no competition.

    It amazes me that Ford did not market the ST properly, and that it pretty well killed it by not marketing it. Since it did not sell well, it was killed for 2008.

    The Focus ST is all about handling. I went from a 2000 Miata to the Focus, and while I miss the Miata anytime I’m not on a long trip, I don’t feel that I made that big of a sacrifice. The only thing that Ford really screwed up here, handlingwise, was saddling it with Pirelli P6s. I quickly rectified that with a set of Goodyear F1 GS-D3s, as well as putting a 1mm thicker rear sway bar on, for more nuetral handling. I simply love the car now, and people are always amazed at what the cheap little car can do.

    I do feel that Ford should have given the ST a more economy minded gearing, as it has so much torque that it could easily pull a higher final drive. That would also help the fuel economy.

    That said, real world fuel economy has been about the same as my Miata. I am averaging 27 MPG, which is not bad at all, for a car that does 0-60 in under 8 seconds and the 1/4 mile in under 16.

    I would have prefered a MazdaSpeed3, or a Civic Si, but for what I needed(as opposed to wanted) they were simply too expensive. I looked at the Mazda3, but felt that they had actually muted the connection between road and driver, and it was slower to boot. I could not see paying more to get less of what I really wanted.

    People talk about the bad resale of the Focus, but resale is not bad at all, when you look at the fact that you can easily get invoice(I did without asking) and have a $2500 rebate on top of that. You have to look at what people actually pay, not MSRP.

  • avatar
    selracer

    The F-150 is built in Dearborn NOT mexico.

  • avatar
    VaderSS

    F-Series trucks are built in Cuatitlan, Mexico; Dearborn, Michigan; Claycomo, Missouri; Norfolk, Virginia; and Valencia, Venezuela. It was also built in Oakville, Ontario until its closure.

    A quick look at car ad VIN numbers showed most being built in Dearborn, Norfolk, and Claycomo. I have no idea what the actual numbers are.

    My Focus was built in Wayne, Michigan, but the engine is Mexican built. From what I understand F-150s have a lot of Mexican parts, no matter where they are built. It’s just part of the new world order… The whole “Buy American” mentality is almost impossible to actually achieve these days.


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