Product Type: Ford cars
Newest Review: ... as a convenient "ashtray" where I hide my money for diesel fill ups just in case. Engine As I mentioned in the introduction... more
Ford Focus TDDI 2003 Zetec - Still the Best Car On the Market
Ford Focus 1.8 Zetec TDdi 5dr
Member Name: Shellshocker
Ford Focus 1.8 Zetec TDdi 5dr
Advantages: Solid build, Fuel Eco, Cheap Parts, Common for find, Reliable, Storage Space, Cheap Tax, Low Insuran
Disadvantages: Odd Shape
This being my first year of driving, I managed to pass my driving test (easy) and save myself a decent budget to purchase a much awaited car. With a reasonable budget of around £1000 and the Internet I managed to track down a decent car. Something which is cheap to run, hence a diesel; something which is quite generous in baggage space; hence a hatchback and mainly something which is known to be reliable and common for cheap parts and repairs. This narrowed it down to only a few, and being 19 I didn't fancy purchasing a Corsa or a Fiesta, I wanted to be somewhat unique and somehow the Ford Focus was the next step up!
My main goal when purchasing a car was to get the best Miles Per Gallon (Mpg) I could, although having a job which allows me the funds to purchase and insure as well as importantly maintain a car, the added cost of filling the car up goes strain the wallet, especially with the current fuel prices being as high as 150p per Litre of Normal Diesel and with no sponsorship from the parents, it's all coming out of my own wallet!
Reliability of course is always a factor; everyone wants a car which will keep going with just the basic maintenance. After numerous hours of research I discovered the TDDI Endura-D engine was not only strong but cheap!
All these factors come together and I was assured that parting with my hard earned cash in exchange for the Ford Focus 2003 TDDI Diesel will be a great idea. After having it for almost half a year I am quite sure I know the car upside down now, so in good mind to do a detailed review.
The Ford Focus has become quite an iconic car throughout the last few years; it is one of the most common cars in the UK and is very popular throughout Europe and America alike. The Focus was born in 1998 after replacing the Ford Escort in the European market with Ford totally redesigning the cars shape and engine to create what would become one of the best selling cars in the world. Looking back on some past marketing videos and reviews, the Focus was an innovative car being designed around the passengers and the driver as well as giving it simple features, like Rear Lights at the top to be noticed easier and crease markers for the driver to recognise the front of the vehicle as well as excessive luggage room and headroom and interior comfort. Even now in 2012 the original MK1 Focus can be seen to be ahead of its own time.
Yet Ford still innovates and improves with the new Focus models, developing technology to make driving not only comfortable but safe!
My Ford Focus MK1 TDDI Diesel features the almost legendary design. What I call the "door wedge" shape, at first glance you'd think it was designed around a Right Angle Triangle; to this day I am trying to calculate the Pythagoras Theorem from it (Maths joke). The whole car seems to have a triangular theme to it from the headlights and rear lights to the side windows, quite an interesting design to say the least; if the car was yellow I'd half expect Jerry to come chasing after me!
But looking at it more closely, it has a bit of elegance to it, and you quickly get used to it. As mentioned above the design has got some purpose to it. The bonnet have minor unnoticeable grove to allow the driver to reference the front of the vehicle, which has helped a considerable amount in parking. The headlights are located at the top of the rear to allow cars coming from a distance to notice your braking and indicating and the shape is purposely aero dynamic, yet still allows lots of rear headroom and storage.
Essentially, I still can't get over how peculiar the car looks from the general shape to the oddly small wheels in comparison to the body. However it has drastically improved with the Mk2 Focus, although it took them 7 years. But each feature has got a purpose within the vehicle from the aerodynamic roomy shape to the wheels for the best ride and cheaper tyres. The car was designed around the consumer and done so brilliantly.
First time I ever got into a Focus Mk1, it has a large dashboard with little on it and a wide centre panel (Gear Shift Console), which separates you and the passenger quite well giving you lots of space.
The car was clearly designed around comfort and convenience, as you can determine by the numerous cup holders in centre panel. I've found these highly useful as I do lots of long journeys and having a drink and a place to put things close to hand is really helpful. Very few cars I've been in have such a convenient yet simple feature.
As I mentioned the dashboard doesn't comes with lots of buttons and controls. A digital clock and a Hazard Lights Triangle at the top centre, and the only thing which may require a second glance is the headunit, which has some numbers which are basically for the radio station pre-sets, useful if you drive around the same town, useless if you move from town to town daily. There are the duel fans in the centre and since ones drive and passenger side as well as the window heater all controlled by the 3 dials at the bottom of the console, as well as the A/C and Recirculation buttons, unfortunately the A/C as usual doesn't work but can be recharged for £50 at most garages.
The Zetec comes with a steering remote stem for the stock headunit but can work with compatible aftermarket units too. The Headunit itself is simple and mine was CD compatible (older models have a ~sigh~ tape deck), all it does is radio and CD which got instantly replaced with something with an Aux and a USB. Some removal keys are required (or some creativity with a metal coat hanger) to remove the original unit and it can fit a double din headunit, which is great if your after looking a bit flash, personally I was on a budget so a simple single din and a facia plate was satisfactory.
The other steering controls include the standard indicators, wiper/screen wash operation for front and rear and you can also manually operate the front wiper by moving the right stem down (and holding for movement). Horn is centre of steering wheel and light dial is far right of dashboard; turn right for Side and Beams and pull out for Front and Rear Fog lights. A very user friendly interior with few controls and all easily operation by a 6 year old.
The dashboard and centre console is very well built and all solid plastic (in the Zetec, Ghia comes with wood finish). Mine seems to have survived the test of time considering I got it in a honking condition; it always tidies up well, although worth a mention that the gearstick panel is slightly loose but easily replaceable.
---Interior for Passengers---
A lot of manufacturers concentrate on creating a good driving area as you are the person who is purchasing the vehicle and I rarely hear people getting in the rear of the car and experiencing how passengers feel.
Having been a passenger in a lot of Focus Mk1's, I can personally vouch that the rear has a lot of space for 2 people to sit comfortably, and extra person can fit easily but creates a minor squeeze. No problems for a 5 door car, may get some sore legs with a 3 door, the middle seat also features a full over shoulder belt for the passenger, not a lap belt!
The front passenger has got a lot of personal space, especially if they can move the seat back (with no rear passengers), the large middle console gives decent separation from the driving elbowing you in the legs every gear change.
In all the Focus Mk1 is a car which was designed to provide comfort for everyone and not just the driver!
Considering the car looks quite small from the outside being easily confused for something in competition with a Corsa rather than its very well aged mother! I've had numerous people tell me "That won't fit in there" or "Sure you have enough space in the boot?" to which I replied with a smile and a later demonstrated how much space I have to my disposal!
To scale up the boot space, myself being a slightly larger than average man....I'm tall, I can easily curl up in the boot and close the door. When the seats have been dropped down at the back, I have been able to fit a fully constructed mountain bike (wheels attached to from). I've also with a squeeze had 3 people with 2 large grip bags each in the car. Basically the moral is, although it may look small, the Focus is like the Wardrobe to Narnia!
Not forgetting numerous storage spaces in the car itself, such as the door "pockets" at the front and the glove compartment box. The cup holders can also be used to hold spare change as well as a convenient "ashtray" where I hide my money for diesel fill ups just in case.
As I mentioned in the introduction to the review, the car I am reviewing is the Ford Focus 03 TDDI, which features the Endura-D Engine. As far as I'm aware very few variations of the TDDI (Turbo Diesel Direct Injection) was made and only came in 1.8 Litre. With the all future Diesel Fords it quickly became the TDCi (Turbo Diesel Common Injection), the main difference was that the TDCi is newer, quieter, more economic and compatible with more cars.
The TDDI engines are easily mistakable for a 5th Generation Ford Transit Van! I've had many comments on this and I find it quite amusing to say the least. The TDDI is very noisy and any modern car you'd probably be worried about the loudness, but it is incomparable in reliability to very little else. A regularly maintained and serviced TDDI engine has been known to run well into 300,000 miles, mine has been running steady from purchase and built up over 133,000 miles and after a ruff spot with the starter motor, its back and kicking at and exceptional level!
However although the engine is strong and reliable, the major bottleneck I delayed to mention is that is it very sluggish, don't get me wrong it will pull, but with only 6,000 rpm on the rev counter and 4,000 being the safe zone, it does take some time to build up speed. With only 75 horses under the hood, I have to think twice before I take a gap in a roundabout or pull out from a junction because it does take a good few seconds to get to 60mph.
But not being a speed demon, I have learnt that all that slowness means I am saving a lot of pennies!
Repairs and Part Availability
When I purchased the vehicle, I noticed that it was having a bit of bother starting up requiring 2 turnovers to get it ignited on average, which got consistently worst. Trying to diagnose the problem myself I skipped to the cheapest and obvious, getting it serviced, changing glow plugs, re-changing oil, fuel cleaner and battery before I gave in and got the RAC guy to have a look, instantly telling me it was the Starter.
The moral of the story is not that I am an idiot, but that I discovered that a lot of the parts for the Focus I bought and looked at were not all that expensive and readily available from places like Europart and other local shops.
Being a very common car any spare parts I need I can easily go to a Scrapyard and find anything on the many Focus' who found a resting place. So it is gives you peace of mind that if you damage some bodywork, it can be found in a scrappy, and 50% of the time in the same colour (unless its cheese colour).
Although I was looking for a car that looked decent, had lots of room and some "street cred", my real goal was to find a car that wouldn't cost me a fortune to keep running. This car does exactly what I am after; having a very decent 40 mpg advertised on town roads and around 60 mpg on motorways, the car is built to be economic on fuel. I find that in towns I get around 30 mpg on average although I haven't measured it successfully to really say, motorways however this car is fantastic, I am all about saving money and keeping to an average of 60 mph for 200 miles, it on average costs me £30 in fuel (being 140p per litre of Normal Diesel).
Tax on the car is in the F Band for emissions which means its £135 per year (£74.25 per 6 months). Insurance group is "5" or "5E", but of course take in account your NCB and living area. I found this can be insured at a tiny increase in comparison to a Group 1 car (e.g. Corsa 1.0).
Parts for the body are extremely easy to come across considering there are Focus' all over the place. So any car scrap dealer can sort you out with body parts as I found when my Mirror Cover went mysteriously missing (I suspect theft), I found one instantly in my local scrappy, but now I have 2 black covers on a blue car. Engine parts aren't expensive either, being a TDDI all the parts are basic and it doesn't have anything fancy like the TDCi with its Dual Mass Flywheel. Most things are common in Europarts.
In all due to myself having a bit of OCD, I've decided to replace the majority of the consumables on the car to insure it doesn't conk out due to something stupid and it's not cost me much to do so. Its been very reliable and cost effective for me.
Having owned this car for the last 6 months, I've gotten to know it well. The best thing is although it has had some troubles (old parts dying out), there has not been anything which has coursed me great stress and that's really all we ask from our cars, to do its job and not ruin our wallets. The Ford Focus 1.8 TDDI Zetec is a very oddly shaped, economic and spacious car, it looks after you as much as you look after it which can't be said the same for some of my friends cars.
In all, I couldn't recommend it higher, especially for all the new drivers just getting their licenses, think outside the typical box of Corsas, Clios and 206s, go for something worthwhile!
Summary: Strong and reliable, all you need from a car!