- Smooth new engine.
- Sporty enough handling.
- Good fuel economy.
- Cleanly-styled new interior.
- Good shifter and clutch feel.
- Loss of SVT power.
- Loss of SVT handling and grip.
- Noticeable road and wind noise.
- Tall exterior styling.
- Probably holds the record for most number of recalls.
Press Coverage :
The Ford Focus, a favorite of enthusiast drivers, received major design and engineering improvements for the 2005 model year.
Since Focus’ North American launch as a 2000 model, auto enthusiasts have frequently praised the car’s sporty handling, modern design and exceptionally roomy cabin. In subsequent model years, Ford advanced the basic concept and improved quality. Today, J.D. Power and Associates ranks Focus well above the industry average in its Initial Quality Study.
New for 2005, a Focus ZX4 ST performance sedan has been added to the line-up. This sedan will marry chassis components from Ford of Europe’s Focus ST170 and the SVT Focus with a 151-horsepower, 2.3-liter Duratec engine.
The 2005 Ford Focus, like all other vehicles Ford will launch in 2004, will benefit from the company’s "Revolution Under the Hood" – a massive undertaking that began about four years ago to improve powertrain performance, refinement, fuel economy and emissions.
Ford estimates the 2005 Focus fleet will produce 32 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than its 2004 fleet – which was already exceptionally clean. But at the same time, base horsepower will rise 24 percent and fuel economy is expected to improve slightly.
A 151-horsepower 2.3-liter Duratec 23 DOHC I-4 engine will power the new Focus ZX4 ST performance sedan, which will be available in all 50 states. This free-revving engine is derived from the same family as the Duratec 20, but its larger displacement and performance-tuned exhaust help it produce 10 percent more horsepower. Torque is 154 foot-pounds, a 16 percent increase, for exceptionally strong off-the-line and mid-range acceleration. The Focus ZX4 ST is offered with only a five-speed manual.
Every 2005 Focus receives a new front-end treatment that echoes cues from Ford’s new flagship sedan, the Five Hundred, which was unveiled at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.
To better resist dents and dings, a new, harder steel alloy is used for the hood, and the plastic fascia is 11 percent thicker. Sedan models also receive new taillamps and a new rear bumper fascia that looks sportier and has a more finely detailed lower valance.
The most dramatic design departure from the original Focus, however, is the car’s new interior. The instrument panel is an all-new design that directly reflects the priorities Ford has set for its interiors: clean and modern looking, highly functional and built of high-quality materials.
The instrument panel is symmetrical; the driver and front passenger areas are divided by two rectangular climate control registers, the hazard switch and a shallow center stack for the audio and climate control systems.
A monochromatic Charcoal environment is offered on Focus ZX4 ST. The Focus ZX4 ST offers unique woven fabrics or preferred suede seating surfaces with leather trim. Several storage areas were designed into the new instrument panel, including a large glove box, a storage drawer for six compact discs, located by the driver’s left knee, and an open storage space located just below the climate control dials.
A standard floor console houses the shifter assembly, two cup holders, the parking brake lever and controls for certain optional features, including the traction control system. An overhead console, that includes a sunglass holder and space for a garage door opener is a new option. Additional storage can be found in the front doors, which now include molded-in bottle or cup holders.
The soul of every Focus is its chassis. Rack-and-pinion steering and a four-wheel independent suspension that uses MacPherson struts in front and a multilink Control Blade design in the rear combine to deliver nimble handling with a smooth, well-controlled ride. The ST sedan is fitted with a 21mm front and 20mm rear stabilizer bars for even sharper steering turn in, reduced body roll and better tracking. The rear stabilizer bar also allows lower rear spring rates to be used for good ride quality.
Focus ZX4 ST rides on unique 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, Pirelli P205/50R16 all-season radials and uses the same front struts and rear shocks as the European Focus ST170 and the 2004 Focus SVT. These struts and rear shocks are about 50 percent stiffer than the ones used with the SE and SES suspension.
For 2005, new brake linings are used, and total brake swept area is increased by 17 percent, thanks to a 1-inch increase in front rotor diameter to 10.9 inches. The new linings have a less aggressive initial "bite" but cover a larger swept area. The new system is responsive and easy to modulate. In addition, the linings will be quieter, last longer and generate less black brake dust than the old design. The larger rotors are expected to improve brake cooling performance and rotor durability under severe duty.
With an eye towards safety, Focus uses the latest occupant-sensing technology for the front passenger seat. In certain frontal impacts, this system will turn the front-passenger air bag on or off after determining whether the seat is occupied by an adult or a child. Side-impact air bags are optional on all series. Other available equipment (depending on model) includes a four-speed automatic transmission, antilock brakes with traction control, power moonroof, leather seating surfaces, heated seats, perimeter alarm and an Audiophile sound system with Sony speakers and subwoofer.
Ford Motor Company
The reason Ford is pulling the plug on the SVT Focus lies in the heart of the beast. With no Zetec engine remaining in the Ford order books—a result of Ford’s decision to eliminate the Zetec in favor of the Mazda four-cylinder as its corporate four-banger—the high-revving 170-hp SVT version of the Zetec is too costly to justify. Fortunately, the new Mazda four-cylinder (that’s a Duratec to you) is a performer. The ultra-clean 2.3-liter four-cylinder introduced last year boasts six extra horses for 2005, bringing the total to 151. So, the 2.3-liter gives up 19 horsepower to the SVT mill, but the ST is just a minuscule 0.2 second slower in the sprint to 60.
What one does notice is the relaxed way the ST makes its power. Although the smaller-displacement SVT engine had to spin to 5500 rpm to achieve its 145 pound-feet of torque, the 2.3-liter doles out 154 pound-feet at a more useful 4250 rpm. The broader torque curve renders the SVT’s close-ratio six-speed unnecessary as the new engine deals with the five-speed’s gaps admirably.
All Foci are engaging front-drive cars because they respond enthusiastically to commands, like a soldier fresh from boot camp. In a nod to the excellent SVT chassis, Ford bestowed on the Focus ST the SVT’s stiff dampers. The coil springs, however, have a softer rate and provide more wheel travel than those on the SVT. No doubt chosen to improve ride comfort, the softer springs increase body roll and dull some of the responsiveness of the SVT. Smaller 16-inch cast-aluminum wheels shod with 205/50R-16 Pirelli P6 all-season tires replace the wider summer-only tires of the SVT, and ultimate grip falls. However, the predictable nature of the ST chassis allows for easy exploration of the limits—even on public roads.
Car and Driver
Gone is the distinctive diagonal line that once slashed across the Focus' dash, and in its place is sedate, sophisticated styling. Attractively trimmed gauges are easy to read, no matter which Focus model you're driving, and the controls are placed within easy reach for both front-seat occupants. The seats are more supportive than those of the older Focus ZX3 hatchback — an improvement in comfort for both front and rear passengers.
The ZX4 sedan is the only model to also offer the sportier ST treatment (as close as the '05 Focus gets to last year's SVT versions) which provides more power, unique wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, traction control, color-keyed body trim, rear ground effects, a chrome-tipped exhaust, sport front bucket seats, a black leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob with eye-catching red stitching and a silver instrument cluster with black-faced gauges. The interior treatment is also specialized, with two-tone charcoal surroundings and black fabric with snazzy red inserts.
2003-2004 Chevrolet Cavalier LS Sport Coupe
2,189 cc / 140 hp / 150 lb-ft / 2749 lbs / 0-60 mph 8.0 sec.