Ford Focus (1998 – 2004) Review

Ford Focus (1998 – 2004) At A Glance


+Good to drive. Roomy cabin well thought through. Massive choice of used Focus at sensible prices. Better car than a similar aged Volkswagen Golf.

-Lacks snob appeal of a Golf.

The Ford Focus was a revolutionary car when it was introduced in 1998. Replacing the dated Escort, the Ford Focus set a new standard by which all hatchbacks are still judged. It showed that small family cars could be practical and comfortable, but still fun to drive.

The styling was like nothing Ford had ever produced before and meant the Ford Focus was way ahead of the dull competition from Volkswagen and Vauxhall. But where it really shone was on the road. Agile, enjoyable and involving it was great for drivers, yet the forgiving ride and comfortable cabin meant that this wasn't at the expense of passengers.

There's a huge range of trim levels and engines which means there's something for everyone, whether you're after a useful estate, a sporty hatchback or a cheap town runabout. The TDCi diesel engines are a favourite thanks to their punchy but frugal nature, but the petrols are impressive too.

Add in a well built and neatly-styled cabin, good all-round visibility and the fact that there are seemingly endless numbers on the second hand market and the Ford Focus looks a great used buy. Get a well-cared for one and it will serve you well for years to come.

Ask Honest John

I have £1000 to spend on my first classic car - what do you suggest I buy?

"I have managed to save around £1000 and want to buy my first classic car to keep long term. I have always liked my Fords and while I really wanted a Mk5 Cortina, I have to be realistic. I would like your thoughts on a Ford Focus Mk1 as it was a game-changing car in its day and good examples are in my price range. Is this a reasonable prospect to buy and keep and if so, what model would you recommend?"
At the moment, the demand for Mk1 Focus is centred heavily around the RS. It's not always easy to match up a car that you want and one that will appreciate, so be prepared to decide what's most important. But we reckon the ST170 is a good shout. You might not find a fantastic example for the money, but you could save up a bit longer and get one. Whatever you do, be sure to set aside some money for maintenance - no car is ever fault-free and this generation of modern classics is reaching a point where they will need some money spending on them to keep them going. Make sure you do your homework on insurance, too - there's no hard and fast rule about what is and isn't a classic so if you're looking to get one a classic policy not every insurer might be able to offer one. Like you say, the Mk1 Focus was a gamechanger, but it will take time to appreciate as a classic - purely because there were so many of them.
Answered by Keith Moody

Is there any chance the Ford Focus saloon will become a future classic?

"Don't laugh, but in my lifetime is there any chance the Ford Focus saloon will become a future classic?"
It's going to take a while. The Mk1 RS and ST have a following, but think how long it took non-sporty MkIV and MkV Escorts to gain traction on the classic scene. Saloons are a little quirky as so many of the UK cars were hatchbacks, so that might help them stand out a bit.
Answered by Keith Moody

How much is my 1999 Ford Focus saloon worth?

"This year my 1999 Ford Focus 2.0 saloon will become a classic. Can you give me any idea how much the value of the car could be for insurance?"
In our eyes, the Ford Focus is a modern classic - one of the few cars that can be labelled as a gamechanger. However, it was also Britain's best selling car - which means that there are still plenty left. With supply currently out-weighing demand, prices for Mk1 Focus models are still pretty low. Unless, of course, it's an RS or an ST - Ford tax often applies sooner to sporty Fords. A car's value is determined by many things, not least its condition, mileage and history - none of which you mention. As such, it could be worth between £500 if it's scruffy to £1500 (or more) if it's a tidy, low-mileage, one-owner car in showroom condition with very low mileage. One thing that may work in its favour is its body style - saloons are rare in the UK (although not in Europe). If you need a valuation for insurance purposes, you'll need to contact a Ford club and they'll be able to provide the paperwork.
Answered by Keith Moody

Can I get Isofix fitted to my 2001 Ford Focus?

"I have been looking for an Isofix adapter that I can install in my 2001 Ford Focus. Do these exist? If so where can I get this fitted? "
Isofix points are part of the chassis of the car. but you can actually retrofit Isofix to an older car (as long as your car has the particular holes that need the Isofix mount screws into). This link should offer some guidance ( If you do go ahead with it, I'd just recommend getting someone who really knows what they're doing to assist with it.
Answered by Georgia Petrie
More Questions

What does a Ford Focus (1998 – 2004) cost?