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I bought this car as my second car after having a baby as I needed the extra doors. (Car seats are a nightmare with a three door car!)
I previously owned a 2006 1.4 fiesta so I pretty much thought I knew what I would be getting...how wrong was I!
After driving my new car home I don't think the smile left my face for around a week! Although the car looks presentable enough it doesn't look particularly fun but I can assure you on the country lanes this car comes alive, even with the small 1.6 engine like mine you get a kick out of the handling. It literally sticks to the corners no matter how quickly and sharp you go into them (within reason obv!) Every time I opt to go home the country road way after work I arrive home with a smile.
Aside from the handling the car does have other good points. Its a lot more spacious that the older version of the focus. The Zetec version comes with air con and various other mod cons, more than most of the rivals such as the golf equivalent. O.k the ford dashboard and seat covers aren't the most attractive but you do get more for your money with the Focus with the mod cons and the actual drive of the car.
We recently took my car to Devon as my partners car which is a newer VW Passat was in the garage. It fit everything we needed for a week with two children (one being a one year old) and we managed to squeeze in the dog too! Admittedly we did have to have the air con all the way so that the kids didn't over heat (They were covered in teddys and bedding) and my partner had to sit on a cushion as my seats apparently aren't that comfortable after a 3 hr journey but we made it there, with everything we needed in good time and cheaply! My car also handled the hills just a well as my partners unreliable expensive VW!
I also have to add that mine has been perfect with every MOT its had. I had one tiny advisory with its last MOT and the car is now over 7 years old with nearly 90,000 on the clock.
The fuel consumption is very reasonable I average at around 35 just nipping around but easily get 55mpg on my drive to work. When I do eventually upgrade (which won't be for a fair while) I will almost certainly be getting a newer focus (Unless my lottery ticket comes in!)
I bought this car about four months .... i have to say it is a great car.
I went from a small ford Ka to this and it is much better, bigger car with mod cons.
It is cheap to run , as i use my car everyday for travel, and i think that for the mileage i do the petrol goes along way.
The drive itsself is smooth and quiet compared to some other cars.
i would suggest this as a first car as you can pick one up quite cheap and in excellent condition, it is also idea for a small family too. i can nicely fit a big car seat in the back and still have enough room for someone to sit in the front.
The boot would also fit a big folded buggy in as it is nice and big, also big enough to fit all your shopping in with out using the back seat.
this is a lovely car with little extra luxuries.
the seat also has a wind up on it so if your small like me you can adjust the seat to the high that you like so that its better to see when driving.
the insurance on this car is not that much either, even tho it is a higher engine.
The car features are -
nice big boot
boot button ( to open boot from inside the car)
front and back window heaters
fold in mirrors
I hope this review has helped , as i love my car and wouldnt change it, defintantly worth getting one.
I bought this car 2 years ago with only 11,000 miles on the clock. Since then I have done 15,000 miles and haven't had a single problem with it.
It is a vary spacious car, I am a keen sportsman and am often carrying mulitple sporting bag with me. The boot can easily fit both my golf and large cricket bag in it. This is a big advantage as often hatchback cars lack in boot size. Other positive include the 5 doors, I find nothing more annoying than when I am lifting other people around etc having to get out of the car to let the passengers in the back out. In addition to this the seats are very comfortable and altogether it is a very comfortable ride. Fuel consumption is pretty good and if you drive sensibly you can get 37mpg. Finally the the car feels very safe and secure and in the event of a crash you feel safe that you would stand a chance of getting out alive (which lets be honest I think is one of the most important things).
The couple of minus points with the car are that it doesn't look the most stylish of cars, but it certainly does the job. Also it just lack a bit of bite when you put down the accelerator. If I would buy a focus again I would make sure to get the turbo just to give it that bit extra if you needed it.
Overall am very pleased with it and would recomended it to anyone.
A great car to buy as your first car as I did. I use it to mainly commute to college which is 15 miles away. But also for long journeys and in town driving which I used to do pizza deliveries.
My one had-
Leather interior finish, but the seats were not of leather.
The seats in this car are extremely comfortable. It's not so small like a corsa, and it's not a full size family car like an avensis, but nevertheless it's not very tight getting 3 people in the back, they can sit reasonably comfortable. Everytime you will sit in this car you will feel pride driving this car. It's not so expensive if you buy a used one. As it is it's Britains most famous car. I bought mine when the mileage was 112000(27-11-2007), and since i've bought it i've now taken it to 148000 (12-05-2010). I've had a wheel bearing(£18), fuel pump(£60) and 2x ignition coil(£50 each) problem. Otherewise it's running fine.
Overall if I were to buy another car I will personally buy another Focus. I assure you if you do invest in a Ford Focus you will not be disappointed.
I have recently brought this car about two weeks ago. I would suggest this to any one for a work car , or a family car. The interious space is quite large considering it is a small car . The boot space is resonably large too, i used to have a mk4 golf , the focus has a larger boot and is quite abit more economical.
There is quite alot of equipment as standard on the model . Mine is 2005 , zetec climate> it has cd player, alloys , traction control, halogen lights. air-con. It is great value for money , the only thing i would suggest is to watch out for the depreciation of this car. If u want a similar car which will not depreciate as rapidly , i would suggest the golf.
By the way , the interior is made from reasonabily asthetical plastics , but the door plastics look rather cheap. If your on a budget, i would definately advice you purchase this car
We have had our Focus now for 2 months and love it. It's a 56 reg and although it's not the most high-spec version around it runs well, is reliable (so far!) and drives very nicely. It corners extremely well and feels very solid on the road. Road noise is a lot quieter than other new turbo diesels I've been in, and even at high motorway speeds it sounds quieter than our other car, a petrol Audi.
Couple of small points I can't get used to, the handbrake is on the passenger's side of the central console so it feels completely unnatural to reach over every time you want to pull the handbrake. Some have complained about the one-touch indicators but actually these are very useful once you get the hang of them.
Fuel efficiency has been excellent, on average around 53-55mpg on a mix of country roads, motorways and city driving.
Overall it's a car we're really pleased with and as a plus point it has the solid reputation of being a Ford. Would recommend.
I have been a fan of ford focus for a long while now since they first came to the scene in 1998. The look of the car inside and out made it very appealing for me. Unfortunately i didnt have a licence and was not old enough to get one so that passed and the new shape (2004) came along. This looked even better and was looking to getting one, however lack of funds and job made it hard. Eventually i'd get a job and have enough money but ended up buying a bmw 1 series.
However, i got into an accident :( and i was given the mark 2 version of the car :) for 21 days (i hope this makes me qualified).
First thing i noticed when i got in was that it was quite a large car, much bigger than i thought. Also the seat was quite high, which took a little getting used to. Everything was easy to reach and the dials looked very nice, better than my BMW. The only problem was that the handbrake was closer to the passenger side than me so that made it a little akward aswell.
Driving this car was very confortable and also for a 1.6 was quite powerful. i was very impressed :). The overall ride of the car was very comfortable, steering was neat and soft. I was liking this car quite abit. There was a hole lot more storage space than my BMW too. Fuel consumption to was pretty ok, but then again now and again i liked to get the engine going.
Now the bad bits. The rear window was small and i mean small. i was more comfortable reversing in the BMW and they have small rear windows. Also i dont know for other zetev models but mine had quite dark tints on it too which didnt really help either. I may be being abit picky but certain things when opened, closed felt and sounded cheap. The door when closed felt very hollow and most of the dashboard felt like something from one of my technology days at school. But like i said i may be being very picky.
Overall this car is very reliable, i was kind of sad to say goodbye to it, i enjoyed it very much. If i get rid of the BMW i would definately consider one of these. i would recommend this to anyone looking for a cheap spacous car. Some ford dealers are offering 5 years 0% finance on these babies so it could be well worth buying!!
I don't personally own a Ford Focus but I have driven my brothers so thought I would add a review.
Appearance wise the Ford Focus is a nice car to look at and is popular with a wide range of motorists. The drive is excellent and I was very impressed with the sharp handling and ride comfort. The dashboard is clearly laid out and everything is within reach. Boot space is also very good and will easily hold the shopping.
Compared to my Golf I found the interior was very cheap looking and there is a bit too much nasty hard plastic round the dashboard. Everything seems well screwed together though and the materials should be durable over time.
Since my brother bought the car he had an issue with a faulty dashboard causing the dials and rev counters etc to come on and off randomly. The problem was actually reported on Watchdog and is caused by Ford using a lead free solder on the circuit boards, which absorbs moisture and eventually leads to corrosion. To my knowledge Ford did not issue a recall for this so you will have to pay for it the problem occurs.
Servicing costs are reasonable and if something does go wrong shouldn't cost the earth to put right. Personally I would prefer the Golf mainly due to the better build quality and residual values. The Focus does have the sharper drive but will also depreciate much quicker than a Golf so you might have a shock when you trade it in.
The Focus is an excellent car despite a few minor flaws I would have no doubt in recommending one.
With the birth of our first child on our minds, the decision was made to buy a family car. Having owned and loved Ford's, the decision was made to purchase a Focus.
We currently own a 56 reg 1.6 Zetec 5 dr.
The 1.6 litre engine is quite economical and performs well in potting around town and racing down the motor way.
The interior is very roomy (for a 5 door hatch back), well layed out and comfortable. The seats hug your body well and are great for distance and quick trips.
The boot is quite large, big enough for a pushchair and lots of bags of grocery shopping.
There is currently a fault with the engine (starting), but with it still being under the Ford warranty, it is booked in soon, hopefully to be fixed.
As a first time family car it is ideal for quick trips to the shops and great for the weekends away.
I've owned my '05 Focus for nine months now and it hasn't always been plain sailing. Within two weeks of owning her she was refusing to let me accelerate (particularly dangerous on the motorway when I couldn't get her over 40mph) and the engine light kept appearing on the dashboard. I took her in for repair and it turns out there was water on the electrics so a whole load of stuff had to be replaced. Instantly I felt like I'd bought a duff car as clearly there was some kind of design flaw if water was leaking into the electrics. However, the problem was fixed and I've had no issues since then.
Cosmetically this car is pretty nice. It's got a nice round shape and isn't too bulky at either the front or back. The boot is a pretty good size, but then anything would seem big to me after driving a Peugeot 106 for years! Having 4 doors is also really handy, especially as my folks are now of an age when climbing in and out of a back seat with no door is becoming increasingly difficult.
The specs of this car include: central locking, power steering, CD player, air con, heated windscreen, alarm & electric windows. You can even adjust the side mirrors with an electric button.
Comfort-wise I have no complaints. You can raise or lower the steering wheel and move the seat forward/backwards or up/down. The seat is pretty firm as well so I've never had an backache from driving.
Economically, it's middle of the road. The gauge on mine said it was doing an average 29.8mpg when I first bought it! I've now managed to get that up to 37.5mpg but it doesn't seem to be improving on that so I suspect that's about average. It costs me £30 in petrol to do about 200 miles, which isn't brilliant, but it could be worse.
I suppose the down side to having this car is that every other car on the road seems to be a Focus. But that said, it's a good car and, despite my initial problem, I've had no issues with it so far. It's just a shame that my friends all laugh at me for owning a "family car"!
The Ford Focus 1.6i Zetec is a five door hatch back with a 1596cc fuel injected petrol engine. The engine makes 99.2 bhp and 106lbs of torque at 4,000 rpm. It is 4,152mm long, 1,998mm wide and 1,430mm high.
I have not bothered to list the full specifications since these can be obtained from many different websites.
I actually like the look of the Focus, although it is down to personal preference and I appreciate that not everyone will like the styling. The Zetec is considered to be one of the sportier models, although it is no where near the ST170, but it is not that 'tricked' up.
It comes with 15 inch alloy wheels, small side skirts, a small roof tip spoiler and front fog lights as standard. It is also colour coded (i.e. the bumpers and mirrors are the same colour as the metal work). The skirts are not colour coded which I actually prefer. I don't think that they would look right if they were.
If you want to modify the Focus there are many different body parts that you can buy including larger side skirts, a larger spoiler, bigger bumpers and various decals and 'go faster' stripes amongst many other things.
These body modifications are available from many offline and online retailers and Demon Tweeks and SCA Rally come highly recommended, although I have never used either of them. Whilst I would like a modified car, and something a bit different I would never do it because it just draws attention (and most of it negative) to you.
This model Focus is definitely not a performance car and you would be laughed at if you took it to a 'run what you brung' day at Bruntingthorpe drag strip, however I find it is more than adequate for normal every day driving.
The book states a top speed of 115 mph with a 0 - 60 mph time of 10.4 seconds. Whilst it is not blisteringly quick, and much slower than many other cars, it is still fast enough to lose your licence with if you are stupid enough to reach those speeds on the public highway.
If the performance is not enough for you then there are many engine modifications available. These include things such as big bore kits (whereby you increase the cubic capacity of the engine), performance air filters, performance ECU chips and power flow exhausts amongst other things.
As with the body modifications there are many offline and online retailers that specialise in these parts and you will usually find that most of these will supply both engine and body parts.
Personally, I have never seen the point in spending lots of money in engine modifications. The engine is clearly not designed to be tuned up so much and in getting more performance you also run the risk of damaging your engine, and other parts of your car, in the process. If you up-rate the engine then you need to up-rate the chassis and up-rate the brakes. It is a never ending list and, in my opinion, you may as well just buy a faster car and one that is designed for it in the first place
The fuel economy is very, very good and this has been the most economical car I have ever owned, but then I suppose it is the worst performing (with regards to acceleration and top speed) that I have ever owned.
The book states the fuel economy to be 30.1 mpg urban, 49.6 mpg extra urban and 39.8 mpg combined. Considering it is a petrol car it looks good on paper, but in reality you can expect to get more than this. I generally find that I can get in excess of 70 mpg on a run and around 60 mpg going to work and back. I should note that on the way to work I seldom get over 50 mph but then on the rough, undulating and tight Norfolk roads you don't really want to be going any faster.
The interior is quite nice and well built. It is not up to the standard of the premium marques, such as BMWs, Audi's and the like, but it is far better than that of my Celica and my mates Subaru. The interior of Japanese cars seem to be really poor even though they have bullet proof engines.
The seats are comfortable and there is adequate leg room even on long journeys. My vehicle has covered just under 50,000, and whilst I appreciate the average for the year is 60,000, I can honestly say that the seats are still really comfortable and feel like they are good for many more miles.
This car comes with a heated front screen (ideal for the cold and frosty winter mornings), heated rear screen (but that is standard on all cars nowadays), electric mirrors, drivers air bag, passenger air bags, air con and the feature of being able to adjust the brightness of the dash as standard.
The controls are neat (with no large indicator stalks and the like sticking out) but everything is to hand and easily accessible.
There is a switch that adjusts the angle of the headlights allowing you to raise them or lower them to account for the passengers and/or luggage you are carrying. I have had a play with these and can't tell any difference between the settings whatsoever.
The heater is very efficient and it takes only a couple of minutes to get really toasty. Similarly the air con is very efficient. It is much more efficient than that in my Z3 but nowhere near as good as the air con in my GT4. That said, it does call the car down very quickly on those hot and sticky summer days (on those rare occasions we get them).
One gripe I have is that the pillar sometimes obstructs my vision when going around tight left hand corners. I am unsure if this is an inherent fault with the model or whether it is just the position I have my seat in. Unfortunately I cannot really change this as any further forward and my knees are banging the steering wheel and any further back and I can't reach the pedals.
****In car Entertainment****
This is really, really poor. The standard radio is big, bulky and looks really cheap and nasty. There is no CD player and there are no colourful lights or bright illuminations at night.
The first thing I did was to replace my radio with a decent JVC model.
The Focus is a family sized hatch back and as such there is plenty of room to carry but the bulkiest of items. The boot capacity is 1,206 litres which is more than enough room for a months worth of shopping for a family of four.
To make full use of the interior space the parcel shelf can be removed and the seats folded (almost) flat.
The Focus is very cheap to run. Servicing and parts are cheap. Due to the popularity of the Focus it is possible to buy many patent parts, thus avoiding the need to buy the more expensive genuine parts.
In addition, there are part retailers everywhere so you never need to go far from home to get what you need.
There are also many crashed or trashed cars so second hand parts are both plentiful and cheap.
The Focus really is a car for people that have little money, or those that do not want the massive servicing costs of premium marques like BMWs and the like
This model Focus is insurance group 5, which is very low. It is very cheap to insure making it ideal for young and newly qualified drivers.
It is not classified as a 'nickable' car which keeps insurance premiums down even more.
The ford Focus has a massive flaw with the speedo and dash and it seems exceptionally common throughout the model range. Those that have not experienced any problems with this should count themselves lucky since they are in the minority.
Coming form a 'Ford' family both of my sisters, and myself have a Focus and we have all experienced the same issue. Whilst driving there are times that the speedo needle will drop to zero, the digital mileage display will clear and the engine management light will illuminate. Then, without warning, everything will be fine again, before going wrong again.
Due to the numerous complaints this issue was examined by Watchdog a few months back. Whilst Ford will not accept responsibility for this they will offer a discount on a new dash if it falls within a certain product number range. If your dash is in the affected range then you can have it replaced at an authorised Ford dealer for £99 plus VAT. If yours is not in the affected range and needs replacing you can expect to shell out nearly £700 plus VAT.
When I took my Focus in to see about getting the dash changed I was told that it could be one of two things. The speed sensor or the dash. After a bit of internet research I found out that most of the problems related to the speed sensor and this was cheaper than the dash, even at the discounted price. Being a bit tight I thought I would get the speed sensor done first. I paid £28 plus VAT for the sensor and a friend of mine fitted it in just over an hour. At an authorised dealer this would have cost around £70 plus VAT. I have had no problems since the speed sensor was replaced so I would recommend going down that route first.
Another problem I find is the headlights. The standard headlights are awful on dipped beam and you can barely see 10 metres in front of you. This is not safe, especially on the rough roads of Norfolk and the amount of deer, rabbits and other animals that seem to love jumping out in front of you. The problem can be eased by turning on the front fog lights, but I find this tends to annoy other motorists and many seem to like nothing more than putting up their full beams until you turn the fogs off. Personally, I think motorists that do this are a***h***s since front fogs do not really dazzle you that much and the new BMW minis have them lit up as soon as the headlights are turned on. I have found the only real way of rectifying this is to up-rate the bulbs although this is more expense.
This Focus comes with remote central locking and a factory fitted immobiliser as standard. It does not come with an alarm although these can be bought for little money from many offline and online retailers.
The Ford Focus Zetec does exactly what it says on the tin. What it does it does very well. It is sensible, cheap to run, cheap to maintain, cheap to insure and an economical car that is ideal for both short shopping trips and the hike to the other end of the country. And the best thing is you will be able to walk when you get there, unlike in the more sporty cars.
It is not fast, exciting or really fun to drive. It does not look really sporty or cool, nor will it get you noticed. It is a car that you will disappear in to the crowd in, but then I don't think that it is necessarily a bad thing.
If you want to tart it up then there are several body modifications and engine modifications that you can do but then I can't see the point. If it aint broke don't fix it.
The Focus does have its little niggles but then what car doesn't. Just remember, when the speedo goes wrong get the speed sensor changed first since this is usually the cause. Do not get the dash changed and then get the sensor done since this will be an expensive exercise and this is the route most dealers will force you down. Just be strong and stick to your guns.
The Focus is an ideal all round car and suitable for everyone. The running/maintaining/insurance costs make it ideal for new and younger drivers, the large interior make it suitable for families with no more than two children, the great fuel economy makes it ideal for those that drive longer distances. It really is a great car that will serve you well. Just don't expect to be like Lewis Hamilton, but then considering how busy the UK roads are nowadays and the public's attitude to speeding you shouldn't be driving like this anyway.
I run a 2nd hand 2005 Focus 1.6 Zetec, bought at 16 months old after I'd finally run my old Fiesta into the ground. Overall, it's an enjoyable car to drive. I find it is good around town (I live in London) but certainly holds its own on the open road/motorway. The fuel economy if also pretty good (I get about 350-400 miles out of a tank).
The driving position feels quite high, although rear visibility isn't as great as it could be. All the dials and controls are within easy and logical reach, and the seats are comfortable (it takes quite a long journey for me to need to stretch, which wasn't the case in my Fiesta). There's a reasonably sized boot, and with the back seats down I've managed to completely move house (sans furniture).
The car handles well, and is responsive. For a 1.6 it feels powerful. I have needed to change the breaks once now, although they didn't feel too bad beforehand. So far I've not had any breakdowns in 20,000 miles (car total 33,000), and the problem with the engine power cutting out that the other reviewer describes is not one I've experienced.
Overall it's a very good car, although it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. I'm sure I'll be looking to upgrade once I can afford to, but I'm in no hurry.
the very first car i bought was a Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec. i have now owned this car for 18 months and would like to let you all in on a little secret, it is fantastic! initially i had reservations about buying a Fords as i had heard they were badly built, however after a test drive in both the new Focus i decided that at least the build quality was not true. both cars felt very well screwed together, no rattles, squeaks or groans. the interiors were made from top quality plastic that looks just that. not like some of these new cars that roll off the production lines, not mentioning any names, some just look like they've been made for a kiddie's toy, really cheap plastic with no saving graces. i can happily report that this was true when i received my Focus. the interior was top notch, and on the zetec you get some fine details. the chrome ringed instrument dials are my favourite. i also love the sporty dials that come as standard. i have mentioned the inside, so what about the outsid, no problems there either. i love the styling, an aggressive front end, nice flowing lines down the side and a flat bum. just the ticket for an up coming professional like myself. also it looks extremely good in black (my chosen colour) even if that does bump the price up a little (about £300 at the time). on the reliability front i have only had one fault with the car and i don't blame Ford at all, just one of those teething problems. two days after purchasing the car one of the warning lights came on. i took the car back to the garage and they immediately hooked it up to their computer and found out it had been fitted with a dodgy fuse, could happen to anyone with any car. other than that the car has run beautifully for the past 18 months. i have had no problems with it whatsoever. i mention the Focus runs beautifully, the engine even though it is fairly small at 1.6 has bags of torque, and the maximum comes at 4500 rpm so this little
car is a pocket rocket, it shifts when you want it to. With the max torque at such low revs this provides for very safe and easy overtaking and very pleasant motorway driving, no need to drop a gear to accelerate efficiently. All in all a wonderful little car that I could recommend to anyone and if they have the same deal as they did when I bought my car, I think they do, it is great value. 0% credit for 2 years is fantastic for any car but throw in one years free insurance and you are laughing. Whilst we are on the subject of money I would point out that the running costs seem fairly standard. The insurance group is fairly low for a sporty 1.6, a tank of fuel costs about £35 and lasts about 400 miles which I have no complaints about, and lastly the dealer service costs are very reasonable; first service just over £100. To finish off I would also like to add that the dealers were extremely helpful at every stage of the purchasing procedure and the aftercare cannot be faulted either. The only piece of advice is I would add is don't take the dealers word for the price, he'll give it to you for less than what he first tells you, especially at the end of the month. I got about £850 off the list price with a little haggling. If you are looking for a small family car, give the Focus a go, it could be the best thing you ever did.
Now, ive had 2 Ford Focus', one a 1999 no frills version, and now a 2003 1.6i Zetec. The Focus is a nice car, it drives well, the bits and pieces are just about where you want them, it looks sexy, and it has a blue oval badge on the front, so u know its gonna be a reliable car right? Well, its not so much that the thing ever stopped going, but i remember the brakes needed replacing too often on the 99 model, the clutch too started smelling like smoked radishes all too soon. But, despite this, the most worrying thing about the car was, that the engine cut out inexplicably whilst i was driving on the M-way, and i only noticed when the steering and brakes were very unresponsive when i had to slow down. Well, i didnt get it checked out, and thankfully it didnt do it again, and when i purchased the new Focus, i was sure that everything would be fixed up, and the new model would be altogether a better built car. Well, yesterday when i was driving along a main road, guess what happened??? Yep, the engine cut right out again. What????? my brand new Focus, with the same problem as one 4 years older???? Surely not, i thought, those clever men at ford must have fixed this problem by now? Obviously they were too busy deciding what colour the gearstick should be, and even though silver is a very fetching hue, id much prefer not to die. Well, that, as well as the brakes that are very spongy 8 months since i first applied them, and that there is a very funny smell coming from the direction of the clutch, and an added extra of the speedometer failing on a number of occasions, ive really bought the same car, with the same problems, just a little younger, and boy racer black, instead of 'girly' green. Maybe a few years from now, if the focus survives, they will get around to fixing the problems? Or maybe they'll just change the colour of the little button you use to spray water on the windscreen?
In a world where German cars are built in South Carolina, Alabama and Mexico, Japanese cars can come from the U.S., Canada and Europe, American cars are sourced out of Mexico and Canada and French cars may one day be assembled in Japan, assigning points of origin becomes increasingly difficult. And, ultimately, perhaps meaningless. Manufacturing plant location generally has little to do with a car's character; design and engineering are the important distinctions. Even in those realms, times have changed. A substantial number of European companies rely on U.S. (or U.S. trained) designers. Engineers come from and learn their craft in all points on the globe as well. So do corporate managers, executives and product planners responsible for determining the visual, dynamic and functional features that go into everything from Audis to Ferraris to Toyotas.Welcome, then, to the age of the International Car. Your new German or Italian, or English pride and joy is the product of a diverse group of people influenced by different cultures, working in different countries and speaking in different native languages; today, as never before, the source is far less important than the result.It's a wonder that any mass-production machines retain what we think of as national character, yet some still do. BMWs, for example, even those built right here in the USA, are indisputably Germanic, while Ford's Jaguars are still resolutely British in look and feel. Farsighted management encourages the maintenance of traditional images and values for several other nameplates as well. Fears that internationalism in the industry would result in a flood of Vanillamobiles have so far proved largely groundless. Into this Brave New World of conglomerate built cars from everywhere comes Ford's new Focus. Technically, it may not seem to fit into the ec mold, being an "American" car built right here in Wayne, Michigan. Or, in the case of the three-door hatch version, in Herm
osillo, Mexico. But after three days spent with the newcomer, I'm happy to give it space here, and give Ford the credit it deserves for taking a bold step in our direction.In essence, the Focus is a European car that happens to be built on this continent, just like many VWs. It was conceived, styled and developed in England and has had a successful year on the Old Country's roads before earning a spot in the home team's lineup. Its daring looks have a definite European flavor to them, as do its driving dynamics. Small on the outside, large inside, light enough to perform adequately with small powerplants, the Focus is made even more appealing by its pint-size pricetag.Among the four Foci currently in productionfour-door sedan and wagon and three- and five-door hatchbacks, the latter available only in Europe at the moment it's the three-door that is most daring visually and has maximum appeal for enthusiasts. Paradoxically, it's the one for which Ford has set the most modest sales goals based on historic American indifference to hatchback body styles.