4 Sep 2013

Deconstructing the Ford Focus myth

The Ford Focus has just been voted at number 1 in a recent poll of the top 50 cars of the past 25 years.  The Focus Mk1 is consistently lauded as a great car with fantastic handling and an innovative and 'funky' interior.

Ford Focus Mk1
I beg to differ.

A few years back I took a new job where the 30 mile each way commute covered some of Hampshire's greatest roads.  I still use those roads to test all press cars that come my way.

Given I'd be covering 60 miles each day I bought a Mk1 Ford Focus 1.8 Zetec.  I'd heard a lot about the Focus and how it's handling was amongst the best on the road.  It was black and had leather seats.

The Focus' interior is indeed different to other cars.  It also felt plasticky and rather cold, not just to the touch but in terms of ambience.  It suffered a lack of decent cubby holes as well.

The stereo was a 6CD player with FM radio.  The CD player was almost permanently broken.  It's a well known problem whereby when the CD is inserted the internal mechanism just chucks it on top of the others and scratches them all.  I'd remove the unit every weekend and poke about at it to temporarily fix it.

The seats were leather but felt cheap and harsh.  The rear part of the seat moved forward and back but if you lower the lower part of the seat the back stayed where it was.  This meant you'd get a 2 inch gap between the 2 parts, right where your lower back is.  It also had zero lumbar support.

My lower back was wrecked each time I drove it - and I was in it for 2 hours every day.

The handling is meant to to be the Focus' piece de resistance but I can only say it was OK.  It handled better than a Golf but not much better than an Astra.

I went for the 1.8 because it is rated higher than the 2.0.  It's meant to be a zingy, zippy little number with lots of pep and vim.  Bollocks, it has hardly any power.

The car returned just over 30mpg which was about its only redeeming feature.

My Focus Mk1 felt like a tin can that was put together on the most stringent of budgets, not the greatest car of the past 25 years.

I sold it after 10 months and bought a Mk4 Golf, which does everything better than a Focus but has slightly less good steering.  I could live with that.

Don't always believe the hype.

Article by Matt Hubbard