Ford turned to their European operations to source the replacement for their much-loved Mazda 323-based small car, the Laser.
The new Focus was already well established in European markets and the name familiar to devotees of the World Rally Championship thanks to drivers such as Sainz and McRae.
What you get
With sharper Euro styling and refinement, the LR Focus range released in late 2002 had a flavour available to suit most palates. The entry level CL and the better specified LX could be had as either a four-door sedan or a five-door hatch. Buyers that scaled the model tree to pluck down tastier fruit could savour the prestige Ghia four-door automatic- only sedan or the sportier Zetec three or five-door hatches.
A 1.8-litre engine with outputs of 85kW and 156Nm was standard fare with the five-speed manual box. Auto versions were coupled to a 2.0-litre engine offering the same power and an extra 6Nm of torque. Manual and auto Zetec models were 2.0-litres with outputs at 96kW and 178Nm.
May 2003 swelled the ranks with the substantially up-rated and re-engineered three-door ST170 hot-hatch, offering a high-output 2.0-litre engine and six-speed Gertrag gearbox.
Standard gear on the CL was lean but included a driver’s airbag, CD and remote central deadlocking. ABS, air conditioning and a passenger airbag were options, but standard on the other more desirable versions, which also featured alloy wheels and a range of other niceties.
How it drives
The Focus is an easy car to drive and thanks to its Euro pedigree, it offers agile handling and roadholding at the forefront of its class. Brakes, ride quality and vehicle security are also praiseworthy.
Regrettably, engine performance of the standard 1.8 and 2.0 litre donks is off the pace and wringing out its best work will mean more gear changes. Using premium unleaded may also be necessary to maximise performance and prevent pinging, a problem some cars proved prone to. Sportier variants with their up-rated engines offered more vitality, as do newer LS series cars from mid 2005.
The small Ford doesn’t appear to suffer from major flaws, but check for oil leaks and proper servicing. Brake pad and disc wear can be a common issue.
Under the pump
Focus will use between 7.6 litres and 11.0 litres of fuel every 100km, depending on model and driving conditions.
What will it cost?
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to CD's online car price guide or our Car review Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
Holden TS Astra
Hatch (three and five-door), sedan (four-door), 2001 – 2004, 1.8 and 2.2-litre
Hatch (five-door), wagon and sedan (four-door), 2001 – 2006
Hatch (five-door), 2001 – 2004, 1.6 and 2.0-litre