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Ford Focus is the world’s best-selling car. It’s also one of the most enjoyable compacts in its price range. It’s fun, it’s practical.
The Focus has won safety kudos from the federal government. It has earned awards from several magazines. And it is the only car to have earned European Car of the Year and the North American Car of the Year awards.
Its New Edge styling has helped the Focus stand out from the crowd whether in hatchback, sedan or wagon format.
Ford Focus comes in four body styles: three-door hatchback, five-door hatchback, four-door sedan, and five-door wagon. All ride on the same 103-inch wheelbase.
Three 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines are available: a 110-horsepower single overhead-cam; a 130-horsepower double overhead-cam Zetec; and a 170-horsepower high-performance SVT version of the twin-cam engine tuned by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team.
For most models, there’s a choice of five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic transmission.
The ZX3 is a sport compact, and comes with all the requisite hardware: the 130-horsepower twin-cam engine, 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and fog lights. Its wild styling makes the hatchback look sportier and even more distinctive than the sedan. Power windows, mirrors and locks, and keyless entry are now available along with optional cruise control.
Ford’s New Edge styling features tidy creases that define intersecting arcs.
Large pie-section headlamps give the front end a distinctive appearance. Several models have fog lamps in the grille opening below the front bumper. There’s a similar, but smaller opening above the bumper that houses the turn signals. Both are outlined by arcs. The front and rear fenders are highlighted with geometric curves creased into the sheetmetal.
The roofline is highly arched, particularly noticeable when parked next to another car. The roofline is truncated just aft of the rear axle line. Wedge-shaped tail lamps set in the C-pillars enliven an otherwise plain rear end of the ZX3 and ZX5. Ford claims the tail lamps are more noticeable in that location and reduce repair costs in minor accidents. However, the sedan and wagon have conventionally placed tail lamps, so we’ll accept the unique shape and location as distinctive and effective styling.
Lower bodyside PVC coating provides protection from stone dings on all models, and the underbody gets PVC coating as well. Clearcoat paint is standard across the board.
ZX3 and LX have black rather than body-color bodyside protective molding, but this is offset on the ZX3 by black rocker panels. The door handles on all models are black as well. The door handles on black cars blends in, but black also masks the distinctive lines of the Focus that are accentuated by the brighter colors.
The Focus is designed from the inside out for maximum interior space within the confines of a compact body. Its raised roof is designed to provide room for today’s taller average heights. Elevated seating height provides more comfortable legroom.
The front seats are cushy comfy, well bolstered for side support. The seats have an exceptionally high hip point, 20 inches above the ground. The advantages of this seating include a better view down the road, plus more effective leg room front and rear, and it takes advantage of the high roofline with headroom for the long and tall. It also makes entry and exit easier. The manual height adjustment on the ZX3 allows almost everyone to find a comfortable position behind the wheel and an easy arm’s length away from the manual shifter.
Ford’s New Edge styling extends to the interior. The dash is a collection of arcs, the instrument panel covered by an asymmetrically curved and sharply creased bezel. The fuel gauge has a small arrow pointing to the right, denoting on which side the filler is located, appreciated by those of us who drive a number of cars, have bad memories or both.
The trunk release, on the left end of the dash, is triangular as well, shaped to fit into the intersection of the arcs outlining the instrument panel.
With its asymmetrical design, the interior looks both informal and rich at the same time. Control knobs all have distinctive shapes for easy identification. Rotary controls are rubberized for pleasing soft-touch operation.
Focus wagons offer the largest cargo capacity in their class. Fold the rear seats down and there’s 55.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity or 37.5 cubic feet with the rear seats in place.