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Ford Focus

LR Focus

Ford logo1 Sep 2002

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

Five years late and burdened with bearing a sky-high reputation, the Focus has found it difficult to fire in Australia, and barely improved on its dumpy Japanese-made KQ Laser predecessor.

High introduction pricing, a dated cabin and lacklustre entry-level DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engines didn’t help either.

An 85kW/156Nm 1.8 five-speed manual or an 85kW/162Nm 2.0 automatic in the base CL and mid-range LX copped plenty of damaging press, although the more expensive Zetec model’s 2.0-litre unit offer a torquey 96kW/178Nm.

Ford found that heavy discounting was the only real way to sell the Euro small cars, which still lead the pack in many areas.

Even now its superb chassis provides startlingly good handling, steering and ride characteristics.

And while the four-door sedan’s styling (in CL, LX and luxury Ghia guises) is dumpy, the five-door CL, LX and Zetec and three-door Zetec and ST170 hatchbacks still look sharp.

The latter is a real hot-hatch too, providing 127kW/196Nm performance from a variable-valve timed 2.0 four-cylinder engine tied to a six-speed manual-only gearbox.

Special editions have included the well-equipped SR and body-kitted Zetec R.

The second-generation Focus, due in mid-2005, donates its platform to the excellent Mazda3 and Volvo S40/V50, and will be sourced mostly from South Africa. German-built Zetec and ST170 apart, the LR Focus is from Spain.

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