UK Car Road Test

Ford Focus Ghia Dci 2003

 


UK Car road test. Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi Ghia. 

 

Cost New 16400    Residual @ 3 years 48%
Produced from  Oct 1 2001 to Jun 1 2003
2002 model, five door version of this very popular hatch.  With a special order leather trim.

The Ford Focus has been with us for some time now since 1999 and is aging well. New models are frequently added to the range, most recent is the complete overhaul of this mid range car in early 2005. This car tested is the 2002-2005 model.

The Ford Focus has a myriad combinations of body styles - three & five door hatch, 5 door estate and 4 door saloon. No convertible yet but there will be one day, I'm sure.

Engine types are 1.4, 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and the 2.0 turbo petrols, then there is the diesel engined 1.8 with various power outputs. Specification levels range from CL, LX, Zetec, Ghia and ST.


Ford's Focus is one of the largest model ranges on the UK Car web site. The Focus is affordable when new and second hand bargains are now available from about 2,000.

 

The Focus is not curvaceous or shapely. It looks harsh and pointed with wheel arches being added to define some shape into the body. I personally find it's OK looking and nothing more.

This model tested is the highly specced Ghia with alloy wheels, colour coded bumpers and mirror housings. It is not, however, much different to the lower spec models. The alloys are small and, like the body, are undefined. 

 

The interior for the Focus is very bright, even with the dark trimmings. The sunroof helps, of course, but it's mainly the amount of glass which permits great interior light levels as well as great vision. For its physical size, Ford have managed to give a good deal of interior space; it will seat four comfortably with a fifth person needing to be small otherwise all three in the back become quite cramped and cosy. 

This car had grey leather seating with the leather trim being very well finished and the front seats even had heating for the coldest of mornings to please your bottom. The trimming inside is like the outside of the car in that it is not interesting at all. The rear seats are akin to a local park bench and the front seats are as interesting as a garden chair. In fact, the seating is totally featureless and uncomfortable. It does wear well, though, and being dark coloured it keeps a good appearance for many miles and use.

 

 

The Focus Ghia is well equipped with climate control, air conditioning, electric windows and mirrors, alloy wheels, multi play cd stereo and so on. The leather trim in this car is an optional extra cost option, velour trim being the standard fitment. Other models of the Focus range are fitted with most of the features that the Ghia model has so why does Ford insist on this very outdated description for it's higher spec models (even naming the top spec models Ghia X)? What on earth does Ghia mean? It does not list in the dictionary and it reminds probably most of us of a Granada or Capri. Ford have insisted on keeping the Ghia name because they believe it to reflect high standards but I feel that this will make people think of Del Trotter in Only Fools & Horses! Time for a re-name, I think.

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Cloth Trim
Cloth Trim
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Rear Reading Lights
Rear Reading Lights
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Exterior Side Mouldings
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Rear Wash Wipe
Rear Wash Wipe
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows front
Electric Windows front
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Radio Cass Remote
Radio Cass Remote
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Trip Counter
Trip Counter


The stereo is very good quality, easy to operate and sounds fab, powering speakers front and rear. It is a standard sized dash unit and accepts six CDs at once which is  ingenious and impressive. The remote control for the stereo is positioned at your fingertips behind the steering wheel, thus making it ultra easy to operate.

The climate control is a digital display with touch sensitive adjustments, it works very well and is very effective in ventilating the front of the car. For windscreen de-mist there is also an electric element in the front screen for almost instant effect. Another added feature is the front seat arm rest which I found to be totally useless and, indeed, annoying in its position. The only use it had was to support you when turning right quickly as there was no seat support to stop your body rolling in the direction you were heading. Even then the door panel worked better than the seat when you turned left quickly. I found I was holding onto the steering wheel for support because the seating had none.

 

Standard equipment includes electric windows to the front and rear in the five door hatch; the switches for the windows and mirrors are placed on the drivers door panel for ease of use and they are very practical in their operation.

The drivers seat has an electric motor for height adjustment; once set, it would be never used again. If you put the seat in the low position it creates a two inch gap between the back and the base which is hardly supportive to the spine. It is possible to see through the gap to the floor - a very poor design indeed. I'm sure it cannot give a comfort margin which would be acceptable for both tall and short occupants. The seats are heated in this model and the effect is great for a while but you do have to turn them off once they have heated up because they are not temperature controlled.

 

Another feature which is now fitted to many executive cars is the multi function display; this one informs you of your miles per gallon, outside temp, time and more. I find this totally useless and quite inaccurate. With features like sat nav so affordable why don't car makers fit these instead of the quirky extras they have left over in the parts bins?

 

 

 

Ford's diesel technology has come on like all other marques in the last few years. This TDCi is better than all previous efforts in the 1800cc class. 

 

  Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
6000 7 Band (A)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder 113 1753 No
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Single 2 Turbo Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
115mph 10.3seconds 95
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
39.2mpg 62.8mpg 51.4mpg Diesel
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1204kg 1000kg 415cm 200cm 143cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
351 Litres 1205 Litres 5

Ford has struggled with it's diesel motors for some time. I remember the primitive earlier attempts with the 1.6 diesel unit which became a larger 1.8 and later turbo charged. They were awful, lacking power, lacking performance and failing quicker (at one point) and faster than Ford could manufacture the cylinder heads because the timing belts and tensioners were of such poor quality. Ford even used an Italian 2.5 VM imported unit for it's Scorpio range and the 4x4 models utilised Japanese engines. It is clear that Ford have been very slow from the blocks in the diesel market whilst European makers have surged forward in the market place with breathtaking performance and reliability. I wonder if it's because Ford is American at heart and they did not see the European cost of fuel cost soaring as high as it has. Fuel in America is a fraction of the price and diesel cars in the States are very rare.

Well, at last here is a credible diesel from Ford. I accept that they have used outsourced technology which is probably why they are so good. This TDCi engine in the Focus range has a 90 bhp output and the model tested had 113 bhp. I consider the VW 1.9 TDi unit to be the best in this class. OK, it has 100cc more than this Focus but the power output is similar, so how does the Ford compare?

As with all direct injection diesels, you only need to turn the key to start, there's no waiting any more for the pre heat system. The high pressure injectors, combined with accurate air flow measuring, ensure that no plumes of unburnt diesel pump from your exhaust. At idle the car is very quiet and runs extremely smoothly; depress the drive by wire throttle and the engine spins quicker than a Hotpoint and even quieter. First impressions are good. 

 

The drive system is like nearly all hatches to the front wheels, the gearbox is a standard five speed unit. Even the gear selection is impressive, no roughness or vagueness in selecting any gear, including reverse. First gear drive is like most diesels, it's just for getting going, the engine will pull the car forward effortlessly with ample power to spare. As the engine quickly revs up, it encourages the driver to select a higher gear for more power and acceleration. This was very surprising as this is the first Ford diesel I have driven which provides a torque worth having. Because the fuel is metered and delivered properly, once into third gear, a very credible power surge is produced. The other two higher gears are the same. 

 

Around the town the Focus is very nippy and content with the lovely job of stop/start from one set of red lights to the next and when urged to perform it does so without any hesitation. On quicker roads the car is very capable of accelerating hard for overtaking or plain driving fun. I actually found myself enjoying the drive. Nothing was difficult, the gear selection was effortless and general noise levels were very low for a diesel motor. At cruising speed on the motorway I found the car very quiet indeed and able to provide plenty of power for speed changes. Fuel economy is very good indeed; the car can achieve up to 63 mpg when driven steadily at a 56mphish crawl.

 

If VW is my benchmark in this class, is this Ford Focus up there with it? Almost is my answer. The engine is certainly better and more reliable than its predecessor. With a great torque band and free revving it is very good. I would say it is better than many other diesels in its class. It is, however, not the best available. On a positive note, it is proving itself and will, I'm sure, be even better in its next generation. Got to be a lot better though, as Seat have pushed the 1.9 TDi VW unit now up to a stonking 180bhp.

With such a thumping power output the Focus is fitted with a very firm suspension which is fully independent front and rear. The steering is power assisted and the brakes are assuringly powerful. Tyre size is average in today's standard, placing 195mm of rubber onto the tarmac at each corner. It's a shame that Ford used 15" alloys rather than 16" which would totally change the cars image as well as adding a little extra to the road holding (just a thought, I've quoted a metric tyre width and an Imperial height because that's the way that they are made. I wonder when tyre makers will make the whole lot metric? It seems very overdue).

The suspension is multi linked and allows the wheels to keep a horizontal profile when the struts are moving up and down. This increases traction to the road and greatly improves handling. Throw the Focus into a corner at speed and the car will corner with ease - it's very surefooted. The steering is well balanced and feedback is very credible for a front wheel drive. The only bug bearer is the seats - you cannot stay in one place when cornering with any force as you tend to move about and end up holding onto the steering wheel to keep yourself static. A great shame really as the car is extremely good otherwise.

 

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brake (front)
Disc Brake (front)
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter
Wheel Covers
Wheel Covers
Optional Extras

 

 

Ford has worked hard at making its car range less of a target to villains. The car is fitted with a transponder type immobiliser and the door locks are reasonably high quality. The keys, however, are of a very poor quality; it is not unusual for the steel blade to detach from the plastic housing which is yet another cost saving measure, giving a very poor impression. The stereo is coded and would be difficult to fit into another make of car so it's far less attractive to steal than earlier models. Ridiculous as it sounds, if you require a radio code for any Ford car after 1999, then Ford will provide you with one from the chassis number which is on a sticky label on the top of the stereo. They charge 20+vat for this and it takes them seconds to do. My suggestion is to download the file from our site for free and you can re code your stereo yourself. It seems that stereo codes are a thing of the past and are no longer needed for any reason other than to generate income for the franchised outlets. However, a simple flat battery will deactivate the stereo and frustrate you if you do not have the code handy. Compare again VW - their radio security is encrypted into the ignition key. 

 

Safety/Security Features
Child Locks
Child Locks
Deadlocks
Deadlocks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
Heated Front Windscreen
Heated Front Windscreen
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

Modern protective features are standard with air bags, impact protection and much more being fitted, making the Focus a safe and robust car to be in if you are impacted. The body shell itself is a monocoque design and is very rigid, adding to the cars strength and posture.

 

Ford's badge is legendary, its name is worldwide and its cars are affordable and plentiful in the UK. The Focus is not popular in Europe or elsewhere and it's not really a surprise, considering its dad, the Escort, which was just awful. We Brits are Ford mad and I ask why? Ford even bought Jaguar to sell its marques in the X-Type, etc because its name is no longer one which is respected and followed as in the seventies, eighties and early nineties. I would now rank Skoda as being better than Ford and, of course, Skoda is VW based but it is still a Skoda (and the ridicule that comes with owning one). Never as a kid would I have imagined that this would happen. But then I would never have thought that Ford would put profit before customers to such an extent that its customers migrated to other makers.

I feel it is now too late for Ford to impress our market place. Competition is very fierce, making it difficult to achieve a credible footholding. The Focus can be bought for less than a VW Golf but I still regard a VW Golf to be slightly better. Even today, Ford suffers corrosion to its cars and almost every Focus I see has rust around the strip on the boot. The paint finishing is also very prone to stone chipping at the front of the bonnet which instantly corrodes, Incredible really considering the lessons the company should have learnt by now from its previous models which almost dissolved at the sight of rain. 

Would I have one of the Focus range? Well, I would but only on price. The car is a great drive and it is affordable to run and insure but it just lacks that certain something which would push it from a B+ to an A. Consumer knowledge and expectations have raised the standard to which car makers aspire in order to obtain sales and the Focus is in a very competitive sector. Its main rival is the Astra, although not as exclusively as was the case in the past with so many other cars now being available.

 

 


 

Sample data Click here to access specifications for over 30,000 UK cars. 

Car information and car pictures.

Many more used car road tests. 

 

For all Ford cars specifications and data from:
www.ukcar.com click here.

UK Car Road Test Ford Focus Ghia Dci 2003

UK Car Road Test Keywords: Diesel HatchbackFocus Ghia Dci