Introduced for the 2000 model year, the European-designed Focus quickly displaced the Escort as Ford’s top-selling passenger car. Reworked as an early 2005 model, the front-wheel-drive compact has a simplified group of model designations in four body styles. They include a ZX3 three-door hatchback, ZX5 five-door hatchback, ZX4 sedan and ZXW wagon. Trim levels include the entry-level S, midrange SE and upscale SES.
Ford dropped the high-performance SVT Focus as the 2004 model year began. For 2005, a new ZX4 ST sedan rides on a performance-oriented suspension that borrows components from both the SVT Focus and the European Focus ST170. The ZX4 ST’s new 151-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder is said to be twice as clean as the standard for Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles.
In regular Focus models, a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 136 hp replaces both the base 110-hp and optional 130-hp versions of 2004. In five states with strict emissions requirements, a 130-hp, 20E version of this engine is installed.
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At 168.5 inches long overall, Focus hatchbacks are nearly 7 inches shorter than the Honda Civic sedan and almost a foot shorter than the Toyota Corolla. Focus sedans measure 175.2 inches from stem to stern, and all Focus models have a 103-inch wheelbase.
The 2005 front end echoes the look of Ford’s new Five Hundred sedan. New headlamps have reshaped clear lenses, and the larger grille has a new diamond pattern. Round fog lamps are installed, and the redesigned fascia has a wider, lower air intake. Sedans feature fresh taillamps. Steel wheels now hold 15-inch tires on S models, while the SE and SES can have 15- or 16-inch alloy wheels and the ST gets unique 16-inch alloy wheels. The front brakes have been enlarged, and the ST has all-disc braking.
The seats are relatively high — part of a long, tall interior that’s designed to accommodate taller and older people despite the car’s emphasis on the youth market. Large doorways make entry and exit easier. Big, clearly labeled controls are convenient to reach and easy to see.
A new symmetrical instrument panel greets the driver of a 2005 Focus, which offers four interior color themes and cloth or leather upholstery. The new ZX4 ST can be equipped with suede seating surfaces with leather trim. A storage drawer for six CDs sits near the driver’s left knee.
Ford says the Focus is not only capable of comfortably seating five people, but it’s also roomier than key rivals. The backseat folds down to expand cargo capacity. Focus sedans have a 14-cubic-foot trunk, and the hatchback models promise 18 cubic feet of space when the seats are up and 40 cubic feet with the seats folded.
Under the Hood
Ford’s new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine develops 136 hp. It teams with a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. A 151-hp engine that issues 154 pounds-feet of torque goes into the new ZX4 ST sedan. The ST comes only with a manual gearbox and has a performance-tuned exhaust system.
Antilock brakes are optional on all models except the ZX4 ST, which includes them as standard equipment. Side-impact airbags are optional.
The European heritage of the Focus reveals itself mainly in the car’s crisp cornering ability and its roomy, upright, ergonomically oriented interior. Hatchback models look sharper than the sedans and are practical for carrying cargo.
A ZX3 equipped with the manual gearbox is frisky. It accelerates eagerly from a standstill and is quite spirited for passing and merging. The hatchbacks are highly maneuverable and fun to drive. Smooth clutch action and a gearbox that works fairly easily contribute to driving enjoyment.
Ride comfort is firm but above par, and the suspension deals competently with urban bumps. Despite thick pillars, the long side glass helps visibility in the hatchback. There’s a huge amount of front-seat headroom.
At 178.4 inches long overall, the Focus Wagon is nearly a foot longer than Focus hatchbacks. Wagon models have 73.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity when the seats are folded down and 35.6 cubic feet with the rear seats up. The 136-hp four-cylinder is standard. Back to top