Product Type: Ford cars
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Ford focus 1.6
Ford Focus Zetec Collection
Member Name: AlexisR
Ford Focus Zetec Collection
Advantages: Fairly quick, nimble and economic.
Disadvantages: Alot of poor second hand models in the market. easy to make a mistake when buying.
I bought a 1999 's' Registered ford focus back in 2008 off my (ex) partner who had upgraded to a newer model. I'd had a number of years experience as a passenger in the vehicle, and occasional driver but never really had a chance to put it through it's paces.
Ford released the first Focus in 1998 to much acclaim, the styling both inside and out made it quickly become the best selling car in Europe. Certainly the inside of the car was revolutionary for the year and price bracket and the smooth curves and slopes made it appeal to drivers of all ages. It came with a variety engines and various styles on top of that. The petrol engine sizes were 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and the 2.5 (ST) They also did a 1.9 diesel. Mine was a 1.6 and was a good balance between fuel economy and power. The 1.4 was vastly underpowered and required you to keep the revs high to get any kind of performance from it which of course had a negative impact on your fuel economy.
With the 1.6 you can expect, in real road as opposed to factory conditions, to hit 60 mph in a shade over 10 seconds but it feels quicker. The car will make it up to 100 with ease in 4th gear which makes motorway driving fairly easy since you always have the power to overtake when needed. With regards to the handling it does really well considering it's size. It feels much smaller when controlling it round corners and holds it's line well without too much roll at normal speeds and slightly over. Unfortunately it's at higher speeds that it lets itself down a bit as the understeer is a real problem and if you don't know what you're doing the car will happily steer you towards the nearest piece of road furniture. In saying that the throttle is very responsive in 1st and 2nd gear but requires more revs in 3rd to get a decent performance from it.
If you're not going to fling it about like me though then you'll be left with a decent family car. It can be driven with a feather foot on the accelerator and still perform well. The official MPG is around 40 for the 1.6 petrol but I find that under standard to heavy driving I return 31 MPG I know I could do better but I've never been one for hanging around. The market is awash with 3 and 5 door models with a decent 2003 model selling anywhere between £1400 and £2k It's worth investing in the mk2 focus as they changed the bumpers and look a lot better, as a result they are holding their value better than the mk1.
Alloy wheels demand a premium as well and if possible you should look for higher spec models. The ghia was the highest before they bought out titanium on the newer models but it came with an awful lot of wood trim which will alienate some buyers. You should expect to find a CD changer, air con and steering wheel audio controls for your money with at least 2 front electric windows. As a bonus though ford made the quick clear front windscreen standard which is an excellent tool, especially on the frosty mornings.
It's build quality is good and while there is an awful lot of plastic inside the cabin it doesn't feel cheap. There is an option for height adjustable seats and steering which means that driving comfort is vastly improved too. I'm 6'4 and fit behind the wheel with ease.
So what should you look out for on a second hand focus?
Hidden rust is a good place to start, check behind the cover on the front wheel arch as it was never sealed properly and if not cleaned could have years of salt and gunk built up which will cause it to rust, if it's started then you're not going to be able to treat it. Check in the gap where the boot meets the roof as well as that's prone to liquid ingress.
Make sure the cambelt has been done after 90,000 miles or so and if possible choose one with a full service history. There are many of these cars that have been treated badly in their younger years and will only give the new owner more problems as things that were already worn, give out.
I've had a fair bot of work done on my car but then it is 11 years old with 110,000 miles on the clock. The brake pipes have been replaced along with the clutch and 2 new tyres in the last couple of years, it's also developed a strange squeak from the front wheel somewhere that I haven't managed to locate yet. It's all proportionate in cost though and I probably spend around £800 per year maintaining it including the cost of the MOT and tax.
I'll not post the figures on performance and economy on here since they are freely available all over the internet but be assured they are in line with any other car of this size and year. this is one of the better buys you could make in the second hand market and you should hunt for a good deal to get the most car for your money.
Summary: Worth considering and one of the better second hand choices.