Ford Focus Zetec 2007 new car review
With a longer wheelbase and wider track than its predecessor, the Focus caned through the world’s toughest roads.
Ustaw. ukladu kier. It means power steering setup in Polish. I didn’t need to know this, but seeing as the Ford Focus Zetec is designed and engineered in Germany for the European markets, its trip computer comes in lots of different languages, like Polski. The interesting thing about the Ustaw. ukladu kier is that you can have sports, standard or comfortable courtesy of electro-hydraulic steering, and there’s not that much difference between them.
- Nice to drive — comfortable ride and solid handling
- Spongy, long-throw brake pedal that’s set too high
- Sequential shift is slow
- Lacks cubby holes
On the road
With a longer wheelbase and wider track than its predecessor and the benefit of a rally program that’s seen the Focus caned mercilessly through the world’s toughest roads, road-holding is superb. 107kW of power emanates from the two-litre four-cylinder Duratec 16V motor at 6000rpm, and the maximum torque is 185Nm at 4500rpm.
This is sufficient to give it some hustle if you’re heavy with your right foot, and if you have the steering set to sport you are rewarded with a responsive suspension setup that is fun to chuck around. The Control Blade rear suspension has been tuned for an engaging ride but left supple enough to absorb most of the bumps afflicting NZ’s roads.
The Focus shares its platform with the Mazda3, and the motor and gearbox are also modifications from Mazda (unless you get the 5-speed manual, which is unique to the Focus).
On the road
Inside, the Focus has the usual European quirks: the indicators on the left, and the handbrake on the wrong side of the central binnacle. Also, there is a distinct shortage of storage, with nowhere to put a bottle, no large central binnacle and a lack of other pockets and cubby holes to store bits and bobs like sunglasses, coins and kielbasa (go on, Google it). But, you do get air conditioning, CD player, a couple of airbags (but no side curtain ones).
Like the Chrysler Sebring, I had a few weeks ago, the CD player actually needs the bass turning down even from a flat EQ to give a balanced sound mix. Stereo controls are on a European-style stubby wand on the left of the steering column and are easy to use. Cruise control buttons are located on the steering wheel. The cruise control itself is good except up steep hills where it searches and faffs around trying to maintain speed.
While visibility is good out front, and it’s easy to see down the side of the car with the heated wing mirrors, the steeply raked rear window threw up some new blind spots at the back of the car that took some getting used to. In the back, the passenger legroom is a little on the tight side with a tall driver, but the seats are very comfortable and there are aircon vents provided.
A trip computer resides between the rev counter and speedo. It’s a dot matrix screen that shows temperature, fuel usage, trip distance and time, and various setup options for the car. Above that (on the automatic) is a display showing which gear you’re in. If you change to the sequential gearbox, it shows you the actual gear.
Quoted figures for fuel economy are 8l/100km for the auto, but if you like a manual then you’ll better that with 7.1l/100km. The Focus will run on 91 octane fuel as well — something many of its competitors can’t do.
The Focus won Car of the Year in both the USA and the UK, so it’s obviously a competent car, but the market has moved onwards and upwards. Unfortunately for the Focus Zetec while it’s equal or better than its current competitors (Mazda3, Astra and Golf) it’s not a match for Subaru’s Impreza 2.0R Sport which is a few grand cheaper, so while the Ford is a nice car, it's one that needs a bit more Polish.
Note: This was reviewed as a new vehicle.