Time to Focus
Ford's 2005 Focus had one of the toughest tasks faced by any family car.
It had to reprise the success of its ground-breaking predecessor.
Not only that, but it was faced with a whole host of rivals who had taken the previous generation Focus apart, copied its technology, employed its development engineers and done all they could to try to one-up Ford.
While it's true that the 2005 model year Focus no longer enjoys the huge gulf in capability over its rivals that its predecessor could indulge in, it's still one of the very finest family hatches around and, from a driver's perspective, is still the one to have. The styling may have become a little lower key but the Focus has, in most of the key areas that count, become a markedly better car. Used examples are now appearing in meaningful numbers and make very decent buys.
A good deal more conventional in outward appearance to the striking original, some saw this as a sign that Ford had lost their edge when it came to product development, but a short spell behind the wheel would dispel this myth for good.
Despite rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra closing the gap, the Focus was still the best value package in its class and sales soon ramped up to very encouraging levels.
An estate version followed within a couple of weeks of the three and five-door hatches appearing and in March 2005, a very handsome four door saloon version appeared, erasing memories of the rather awkward-looking first generation Focus saloon.
Performance fans were sated in late 2005 with the launch of the 2.5-litre ST models, powered by a 220bhp Volvo-sourced turbocharged five cylinder engine.
Although prices are settling fast, £5,275 is currently the kick off point for a second generation Focus, that sum buying you a 1.4-litre Studio hatch. If you're looking for something with a little more engine (and it is recommended), the 1.6-litre Zetec three-door is just dipping under £5,750 for average mile examples. The 2.0-litre petrol engines have proven surprisingly sought after and a five-door example in Titanium trim starts at £7,075. The Focus ST is still rare as a used buy although initial sales volumes suggest that this is unlikely to remain so for too long.
The diesel models are big hits and £6,400 will buy a five-door 1.6TDCi LX with the first of the 1.8 TDCi Estates in Zetec trim going for around £7,350. The 2.0-litre diesels are perhaps the pick of the entire range and these start at £8,225 for a Zetec five-door hatch.
Ford's engines are, on the whole, reliable, so give the car the usual once-over looking for signs of wear and indications of hard fleet, company or rental car use. Worn carpets, and scuffed trim are the usual clues. The 1.4-litre engine is a little underpowered for such a substantial car, so avoid high mileage ex-fleeters with this powerplant.
Check that all the electrical items work properly, ensure that the air conditioner delivers chilled air soon after the engine is started and remember that a full service history always helps when selling on, too.
If you're looking at ST model, make sure the tyres still have some tread on them, and that the car hasn't been thrashed or crashed. Focuses are tough but some will inevitably have been abused. It is always worth checking the dashboard lights up and all the instruments work. If all the instruments fail, it will be the circuit board that needs replacing, this used to be expensive, but Ford will now provide the replacement for £99. You're not exactly going out on a limb but playing it safe will net you a very good car. Avoid the gutless 1.4-litre petrol models and you should be very happy indeed with your purchase.