I've just ordered a new Focus ST170 (2003) from a local dealer that took my
A3 1,6 as a trade-in. Frankly, the A3 was getting on my nerves; it was more
than a handful in terms of faults, and people at the local Audi/VW
dealerships have been less than service-minded to say the least.
Looking to sell the A3, I figured the ST170 was a good choice, partly
because I read that the Focus came out with the fewest faults in an
independent TÜV test.
Did I make the right choice?
Shouldn't you ask *before* you order a shiny, new, expensive car? The ST170
is a competent car, but you will have to rev the nuts off it to go much
faster than the stock Zetec Focus. In a recent comparison of the Octavia
RS, the Astra GSi and the ST170, the Ford came out behind mostly due to its
rather inflexible engine. The other cars have the benefit of a turbo to
make lots of torque down low in the revs. Having said all that, the Focus
is probably the best handling car in its class, which is why I bought one,
and the seats it the ST170 are a nice step up from the standard sport seats
in the more standard Focus.
The Focus slipped down the TÜV rating for 2003, but still is ahead of the
Golf/Bora/A3/Octavia platform cars. Of course, if you want 100%
reliability, you buy a boring Corolla.
Thanks for your feedback! The thing is I just wanted something relatively
hassle-free with a bit of go, and the Focus seems to deliver that. Whether
it's faster than the competition isn't really an issue. I don't drag race,
but I liked the neutral handling and understated looks. Besides it's a fair
step up from a 101bhp A3.
You mention the comparative test with the Octavia and Astra. The Octavia is
maintained by the same dealer network as Volkswagen and Audi, and hence is
out of the question. (See my first posting). And Opel/Vauxhall has never
appealed to me - no matter how well they drive. Too much of a "sunday
driver" image, if you catch my drift. (I'm not out for a fight; I'm sure the
Astra is fab, but it's not for me.)
By the way - I *did* in fact consider a Corolla. The new one looks quite
good, and the old plasticky feel is long gone. And like most Japanese cars
it's as trouble-free as they come. A friend had some misgivings about its
handling, though, so I never went to try one. And like you said, it is
rather boring anyhow.
Where I live there's a max speed limit of 100 kph (62 mph), which means I
probably won't be able to explore the full potential of the Focus without
taking it to Germany anyway. And a relative has a DB7 Vantage that I can
borrow for some real grunt...
Appreciate your comments on the astra and corolla. (Funny thing how Opel
never seems to lose their staid image.)
If I'd had a choice I might have gone for the TDCi myself (a friends has one
in estate guise), but since there wasn't a single 115 bhp unit in the
country to test drive (only the old 90bhp TDI unit which I didn't want), I
just couldn't let this chance pass. Think I'll be happy with the ST, and
with a 3 year warranty I'm well taken care of. Ford's customer programme
can't possibly be worse than that of VW/Audi...
In the process I also thought of the new A3, which seems a much more
competent car than the old one, but the idea of having to go on dealing with
the local Audi dealer put me off. Here in Norway, VW, Audi and Ford are the
major suppliers of company cars and have been so for many years. The
downside to this is that customer satisfaction inevitably comes second.
(Companies buy their cars anyway...) Local customer satisfaction surveys
show that Toyota owners are most content with the service they get .
I'm taking delivery of the Focus this week - hopefully there will be some
nice weather for a spin this weekend. I'll let you know what I think!
Thanks for the link!
Maybe a Webasto or an electric heater would be a good investment The winter
can be pretty rough in these parts, and I hate the idea of being stuck with
a car that refuses to start in the cold. Mind, the A3 also sounded pretty
rough when fired up i mid-december...
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