The Ford Focus has been Ireland’s best-selling car for eight of the last ten years. It replaced the Escort in 1998. The Focus was a major departure from what had become a very jaded Escort and buyers were hesitant at first, but soon welcomed it with open arms. Stylish, superb to drive and great value, the Focus became a massive hit. Over 100,000 Focus have been sold in Ireland since it was launched.
The Focus started life as a hatchback, but soon spawned other body styles, including an estate model and a saloon. The latter is particularly popular in Ireland, where we love our three-box saloons. When the Focus was launched here, it was at a time when car tax was based on engine size so the biggest seller soon became the 73hp 1.4-litre petrol model and this made up the overwhelming majority of sales, with the 98hp 1.6-litre selling in fewer numbers.
Diesel sales were slow initially, because the 1.8-litre TDCi was taxed at a higher rate and was expensive to buy. LX remained the largest selling trim throughout the life of the Focus, although there were various special edition models introduced as the years passed.
There were some performance versions too, with the 2.0-litre Zetec model boasting 128hp - making it more of a warm hatch than an out-and-out sports car. Faster and more exciting was the 170hp ST170, which was great fun to drive, exploiting the car’s agile chassis. Finally, at the very top of the performance tree was the RS, sold between 2002 and 2003. This had a 215hp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and could get to 100km/h in just 6.2 seconds.
By far the best seller was the 73hp 1.4-litre petrol model and these are the most plentiful on the used market too. This wasn’t a fast car, but was more than adequate for most buyers because it was reasonably fuel-efficient. This version is best around town, as it doesn’t like being worked too hard. The diesels are better at coping with higher mileage though.
Engine: 1,388cc four-cylinder petrol
Maximum speed: 170km/h
0-100km/h: 13.6 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6.7 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: * * * * *
• Great looks
• Superb handling
• Good choice of engines
• 1.4-litre a little slow
• Poor spec on early models
• Interiors haven’t aged well
It isn’t hard to understand why the Ford Focus became a best seller in Ireland. It has a great blend of style, handling and strong reliable engines so the Irish public loved it. There are so many around that the choice on the used market is wide too. A top buy.