Car Test   R0281
November 2002
  Ford Focus
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.8 TDCi 5door Ghia
Fordís Focus has been an enormous sales success here in the UK, selling in larger numbers than just about any rival. Now four years old, it lacks the novelty appeal that it exuded at launch, but in reality, its trim, equipment, engines and especially its pricing, are better than ever.
   Take this Ghia diesel, for instance. Itís currently available from a Ford dealer for £1800 less than four years ago, yet recent revisions include an advanced fuelling system with more power and refinement. Cosmetic changes are small outside, but enthusiasts will spot repositioned indicators and other external lights, plus better (painted) bumper protection strips in plastic.
   Inside, a really useful enhancement (yet to reach Fiesta) is a split/fold back seat cushion; this means that luggage overflow can be stowed alongside a seated rear passenger, on a level though stepped load surface. Thereís also a Ďversatility packí on the options list these days, which seems a bit of an apology for the fact that thereís no proper MPV version of Fordís lower-medium contender.
   Our rivalís table illustrates that in terms of accommodation, the Focus is nowadays merely class-average. Likewise, the latest diesel engines Ė available with 100 and 115bhp, donít set any new standards in terms of performance or fuel economy. Theyíre a lot cleaner and significantly smoother and quieter, however Ė especially in four and five-door models. This test carís willingness to pull from little more than 1000rpm makes it much more tractable in traffic and even around the lanes, it can all be done in fourth gear.
   Start up and idling are better muted than the previous diesel could manage Ė it now compares more than favourably, in these respects, with VW and Peugeot equivalents.
   Thereís very little cause for complaint in terms of ride, handling and steering, either. One peculiarity, however, is that the Ghia version (with its emphasis on comfort and ease) still goes for bigger, wider wheels and lower-profile tyres (to give it eye appeal?), so its ride is noisier and more stiff-limbed than the LXís. Still, itís got lots of grip and it brakes well, too.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • generous trimming underneath/behind back seat
  • easy to control radio/CD
  • no special oil for this diesel
  • ticket pockets in sides of front seats
  • poor air-conditioner distribution/temperature control
  • a lot of tyre roar
  • stops dead if engine asked to run too slowly
  • rear head restraints obtrusive
Itís easy to downplay the Focus because of its own success. It may not have the bullet-proof reliability of some Japanese contenders in its sector, but it has always possessed the road manners to make them look second best. The advent of this new-generation diesel engine means that this Ford now has superior mechanical manners, as well. Donít let familiarity breed contempt.

engine 1753cc, 4 cylinder, diesel; 115bhp at 3800rpm, 184 lb ft at 1850rpm; belt/chain-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 28.9mph/1000rpm in 5th, 22.3 in 4th
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil springs
rear: independent multi-links with coil springs
  steering hydraulic power assistance; 2.9 turns lock-to-lock; 10.6m diameter turning circle between kerbs (15.2m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, drums rear, with anti-lock control (ABS) incorporating traction control, fitted to this Ghia 115bhp version   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 195/60R15 tyres - Ghia version; temporary spare

size and type lower-medium (mid-priced) saloon, hatchback and estate   trim levels CL, LX, Ghia, Zetec, ST
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.4 litre/75bhp, 4/1.6/100; 4/1.8/115; 4/2.0/130; 4/2.0/173
diesel: 4/1.75/100; 1.4/1.75/115
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual; (4-speed stepped automatic on 1.6 petrol)

HOW THE FOCUS 1.8TDCI COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi 4/1753/115 2420 10.3 12.6/20.6 51/145 19/25.5 105 99/70 2.9/10.6 418
Citroen Xsara 2.0 HDi 4/1997/110 2450 10.7 13.7/19.0 51/141 17/26 109 97/72 3.3/10.8 419
T Corolla Verso 2.0 D4D 4/1796/89 2700 14.4 16.9/25.2 46/164 14/26 107 100/75 3.2/10.6 424
Merc Benz A170 CDi (LWB) 4/1689/95 2630 12.1 17.5/26.1 53/139 30/25 112 110/87 3.7/11.3 378
Seat Ibiza 1.9 TDi 4/1896/100 2290 9.4 13.7/20.5 57/135 20/26 109 96/71 2.9/10.2 396
Ford Escort 1.8TD+ 4/1753/88 2800 12.6 15.3/24.0 48/N/A 34/25 106 98/69 3.0/10.4 411
  + 1993 with indirect injection

Front seats need Ghia's lumbar adjuster, and height setting acts only on cushion. Over-the-shoulder view problematic, but clear displays and precise major controls - except those for aircon.
Wonderfully poised cornering, precise steering and no deviation on bumpy bends. Reasonable manoeuvring effort with average turning circle. Ghia just a shade heavier at the helm than LX.
Inconsistent heating and ventilation - partly due to the engine's efficiency in not wasting heat. Rides really well on LX's tyres, but Ghia's lower-profiles cause a bit more noise and firmness. Picture shows 'versatility pack' inside.

Five-door is less vibrant than estate in low-speed slogging, so engine is both flexible and quiet all the way up the top gear speed range. Reasonable gearchange, too. A very impressive, relaxed performer.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 3.3 9.9 no
  30-50mph 4.0 6.6 12.2
  40-60mph 4.9 5.7 8.8
  50-70mph 6.3 6.0 8.4
  30-70mph 10.3 12.6 20.6
  max speed in each gear (* using 4200rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      23.5      42      64      93.5      117.5 (4075rpm)

New engine gives little mpg advantage, but longer-runs at legal cruising speed will always result in over 50mpg. Good filler and a generous range, with helpful mileage countdown on computer.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 30
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 41
    motorway (70mph cruising) 50
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 51.5
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 60
    overall mpg 51
    realistic tank capacity/range 46/515
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 39.2/62.8/51.4
    CO2 emissions 145g/km
    car tax band B

ABS standard with this engine; gives sensibly progressive response with no inconsistency in harder use. Traction control provided, as well. Not a plethora of airbags - just two standard.
  Ford Focus 5door
  from 50mph (with standard ABS)
front impact     69%
side impact     83%
overall     74%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     31.5m
sudden 19kg     25.5m best stop
+ 4kg 23kg     25.5m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Quite lofty seating (especially in the back) helps confort and ease of access. Proper split/fold back seat achieves versatile load space, but rear sill prominent. Nicely trimmed.
  in centimetres (x)
  length 418
  width - including mirrors 177
    - mirrors folded 200
  height 143
  load sill height (inside/outside) 17/68
  turns lock-to-lock 2.9
  turning circle (metres) 10.6
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 85-105
    - headroom 94-101s
  rear - typical legroom 99
    - typical kneeroom 70
    - headroom 94s
    - hiproom 127-131
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
  load length 64-134b
  load length to facia no
  load width 104-127
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 55 84
b rear seat fully folded  s no sunroof

Alarm optional but an impressive NCSR result with standard double-locking arrangement. No boot contends security once a thief is inside, however.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior)   
self-locking (static + drive off)   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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