27 Less is More - Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec

Cover for Less is More - Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec

Financially embarrassed after a disastrous short term affair with a 10 year old Impreza Turbo,which dropped a bottom end bearing, I had to seek sanctuary in a "normal" and "sensible" car. A cheap MK1 FOCUS 1.6 Zetec became available and I took the plunge.

Well, I have to say that from a starting point of zero expectation, this little Ford has proved a pleasant surprise. I remember reading Autocar when the Focus came out and how they raved about it. I thought it was just journo bias gone a bit mad, but I've got to say those boys were right. For a bread and butter car, the FOCUS was in it's day and still is a blindingly good steer! The ride, steering and handling are all top drawer and in fact beat all the modern hatchbacks I tried this year -new shape Civic CDTI and Leon FR hang your heads in shame! No-one apart from Ford seems to make a family hatch ride well these days, the Leon was boneshakingly hard.

Compared with the Scooby as well, there are more shocks! The Focus has better turn in, better high speed body control (yes really), better damped body roll and very nearly as much grip. Being a 1.6 litre petrol car, there is of course no power, but also minimal weight up front, so this little terrier dives into roundabouts and corners harrassing more powerful breeds.

I can only say that as a starting point to take on a track day for a novice, this car has got to be worth a shout. Ok, its VERY slow, but you can use all the performance, not scare yourself and have a ball in the process. Its taught me a lesson that some of the most fun cars are not the quickest, but simple, lightweight and basic FWD hacks. Its a shame that the trend these days is bigger engines, wheels, tyres etc and more reliance on power and grip for entertainment, rather than sheer balance and brio!

Well if I'm getting carried away by such a normal humdrum car, please forgive me but it's cheered me no end to know that you can have such fun on a budget. Right, time for my medication...

15y ago by FastestLaps
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Bezza  2y ago

so, 11 years after writing this article, another car went kupput on me and guess what I bought another Mk1 Focus 1.6. This time the Ghia. All these years later, I stand by everything I said in that article. My current Focus, which is 20 years old btw, has more body lean than the Zetec described above, but the turn in, resistance to understeer and steering feel are still top draw. A more enjoyable car to thrash down country lanes it turns out than the Mk4 Focus 1.0 Zetec I had as a hire car whilst my old car was in the bodyshop. Viva, La Focus!!


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....  13y ago

my old car..good but crap...


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man KC  14y ago

YEah man... Ford of South Africa made the mistake of bringing only the 2.0 Ghia Focus Model (mk1). And it lost in terms of sales. Now its Focus everywhere in neighboring Botswana as people import used Focus from Singapore. They are bargains and seems they are loved so much...cant wait till I can get one myself. A pity our dealer is whack here in Botswana!


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FastestLaps  14y ago

What link are you talking about. What is the problem.


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mr angry  14y ago

what was the point of a link from the nurburg lap time and no time just a load of shite


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anony2  15y ago

Just chipped in my beloved 106 gti for a ford focus 1.6 zetec and am chuffed to bits with it. Fed up with fixing the french car and peugeot main dealers are terrible.
The ford is a great steer and a top mile muncher. Great mpg, around 50 at the mo.
I think this is the real world performance car for the credit crunch! Well done ford....


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djdrastic  15y ago

I remembered being massively surprised when I got into one of those back in the day.

Hope you enjoy it fella


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Anonymous  15y ago

Well for all those who do not like anything with exciting performance, sporty design, or anything that can be raced around a track for fun or race, should buy a lifetime membership to the museum.


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FastestLaps  15y ago

This is fastestlaps.com. :D Small wonder everybody here cares so much about track performance.


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Anonymous  15y ago

i cant believe some of you people believe all cars are ment to go fast round a track!!


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427  15y ago

Ford should have been extinct a long time ago with the dinosaurs they build, especially their suspension.

In reality, you're saying, that since Ford makes ONE car with bad suspension, it should be extinct. I'd have to say, that is just plain friggen stupid stupid.


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Anonymous  15y ago

Ford should have been extinct a long time ago with the dinosaurs they build, especially their suspension.


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Anonymous  15y ago

what do you mean not for you?? do you know me???? do you know what i do?? didnt think so. and who you callin Granddad? lol


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FastestLaps  15y ago

who says any of us dream on here?? its reality Son!!

It is really. For lucky few. Not for you, mister Granddad.


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Anonymous  15y ago

Well they make better cars over there because the people do not like to drive shit like they do over here. If the BIG3 did that in the first place noone would talk about quality. Everybody makes fun at KIA but some idiots dont know that KIA sells more cars worldwide than honda!!!! Everybody else improved while the BIG3 keep fading. GM ZR1 and CADDILAC are very nice, the rest are cheap junk. Dodges VIPER is nice,the rest are junk. Fords GT is nice, the rest are junk. If they were all nice things would be different. And dont give me this initial quality bullshit because that means its good until you buy it.


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PhantomPorsche  15y ago

I wish they brought the european focus, fiesta, and mondeo to the US but the only problem I have with that is that I cant look at such horrible drivers driving such good cars. I have to say how the hell do these people get there license!


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Anonymous  15y ago

who says any of us dream on here?? its reality Son!!


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Anonymous  15y ago

price AINT my problem:)


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FastestLaps  15y ago

You can dream about it. You can desire to have it. But you won't any more when you consider the expenses.


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Anonymous  15y ago

if its the Oppisite, thennnn why do i want one??