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Ford Focus Hatchback engines, drive and performance

1998 - 2004 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The entry-level 1.4-litre engine is underpowered out of town, so the best choice for economy and performance is the 1.6-litre, while a 1.8-litre unit is also available. The early TDi models are unrefined and noisy but the later TDCi engines are excellent with good pace and a much smoother nature. If it’s performance you’re after then the ST170 with a 2.0-litre engine is the best bet although with a 0-60mph time of 7.9 seconds it’s not quite a true hot hatch.

Considering its family car image, the Focus’s keen handling really impresses. Every model, from the entry-level CL up to the ST, is rewarding and enjoyable on the move with little body roll through corners and precise steering. The Zetec model gets sports suspension so the ride is a little firmer but the pay-off is more composure on twisting roads. The ST170 has a stiff ride but like the rest of the range it’s a competent motorway cruiser.