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Discussion Starter #1
Due to my European commuting I'm racking up the car hire points at the moment and most of my recent weekends have been in a range of dullmobiles so I can leave Bella in the Alps

So far I've managed

Hyundai I30 1.3 Auto - absolutely shocking - would have been better walking

Toyota Avensis 1.8VVTi - upgrade - was like driving a cardboard box - suddenly felt very invisible

VW Passat Estate 1.9D - very nice/smooth - slightly underpowered

Renault Megane Scenic 1.6 - more plastic than a Reliant Robin and felt about as well built

Peuguot 307cc 1.6 (in metallic Turquiose) - felt great cruising through Brixton with the roof down in that. O-60 eventually !

This weekends surprise was a Ford Focus 1.6TDCi Style - imagine the anticipation when I walked out to the car park and turned the key. Well I take it all back - the car is bloody brilliant. Considering you can pick up a pre-owned one for £12k it handles, steers, is quick to accelerate and stop and to top it all, despite the fact that I'm driving it like a hire car, it's done 90 miles round London and averaged 54.8mpg !!!

Now not in my wildest dreams am I ever going to buy one but it does show that it all the dross out there there are some undiscovered gems.
 

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I had one of the 1.6TDCi Focii for a holiday in the Scottish highlands.
Very impressive as an allrounder, even the little 1.6 deisel didn't let the side down.

Reminds you of how far Alfa have to come in their suspension damping department!
 
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We had a C-Max before and it was a great little car and was a mizer on fuel too. And the over boost on them engines aint bad either.
 

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focuses are cracking cars, we've had 3 mkI's in our household and they're brilliant. yeah they're a bit dull to look at these days, but to drive they're superb. suspension is in a different league to my alfa, and dare i say it the steering feedback is also better. if i wanted a cheap-to-run family hatch i'd be in one like a shot
 

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I've already decided I'll be replacing my Mondeo with a MK 1 Focus when the time comes for that. They are good cars, full stop.
 

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If you are getting a Mk1 Focus Pud, try a Zetec one which comes with the firmer "sport" suspension - crackingly good handling and not too firm at all.
 

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I think I know the answer, but I was looking at the Mk1 zetec diesel estates, they seemed to be decent work horses for £2-3K. Any problems with them? I assum ethey handle (nearly) as well as the hatchbacks?
 

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A period of austerity may certainly alter a few opinions as to which car to own, certainly from a private owners point of view? The Alfas wheelbarrow cornering ability always brings a smile to this old face though.:D
 

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Mave, I'm not sure the estates have the firmer suspension - worth checking, but I'm sure the estates handle as well as the non sports suspension hatches near enough. And don't worry the Focus sports suspension isn't a compromised affair like an alfa 156 SP kit that rattles your teeth. In Ireland Zetec hatches all came with sports suspension but it's possible that wasn't the case for the estate although I would be suprised. Anyway it's worth knowing there are two suspension variants :) The standard one is still very good though.
 

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we've had both and the zetec is indeed noticeably firmer, but still very pliant. never bottomed out or hit the bump stops. the standard suspension is also good though - comfortable but well controlled and not in the least bit 'wallowy'. seats are much better in the zetec - more supportive. the standard ones give a feeling of sitting on them, not in them, exaggerated by the focus's high driving position. the st170 is a belter, very very nearly bought one instead of my 156. not monstrously quick but fast enough, and sleeper-ish looking enough to embarrass some much more expensive machinery at the traffic light grand prix
 

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I have to agree. I had an ST170 hire car a few years ago and whilst the pace was "ok" the drive over some moorland roads was excellent. :thumbs:
 

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I think I know the answer, but I was looking at the Mk1 zetec diesel estates, they seemed to be decent work horses for £2-3K. Any problems with them? I assum ethey handle (nearly) as well as the hatchbacks?
The Mk1 Focus diesel contains a pretty dire engine mate, it's the very old 1.8tdi which was actually carried over from the last batch of Escorts. They're bullet proof, economical and not too slow BUT they are very very agricultural and noisey.

2-3k should get you a mk2 with the much improved Tdci lump. My company runs a fleet of these later Tdci Focus estates and they have really good engines and the handling is super for a load-luger.
 

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The Mk1 Focus diesel contains a pretty dire engine mate, it's the very old 1.8tdi which was actually carried over from the last batch of Escorts. They're bullet proof, economical and not too slow BUT they are very very agricultural and noisey.
Yes, this is the engine I want in the Mk1 Focus when I get it. 85bhp or so.. No fancy injectors to go wrong, can run it on 50:50 diesel:veg, and the car will be a lot cheaper to buy. Thats what I want from a second car.

Main reason I am going from Mondeo -> Focus eventually is about 100kg less weight, but just as practical and hopefully I'll be able to better take advantage of its more modern chassis.
 
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Ive had 3 focus tdci 1.8 hire cars, also a colleague has the same as a company car, all of them have appalling turbo lag.
My colleague took his company car to the garage to have it looked at - they said it was normal.

Mrs snotgobbler has a tddi (2000) focus diesel and its been a great car, so I'm not down on focus's at all, but the experience with the new ones from the lag point of view really puts me off them.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Ive had 3 focus tdci 1.8 hire cars, also a colleague has the same as a company car, all of them have appalling turbo lag.
My colleague took his company car to the garage to have it looked at - they said it was normal.

Mrs snotgobbler has a tddi (2000) focus diesel and its been a great car, so I'm not down on focus's at all, but the experience with the new ones from the lag point of view really puts me off them.
The revelation to me was that my hire car is 'only' a 1.6. Yes it feels underpowered vs my remapped 2.4JTDm Spider but it's more than adequate for London and actually quite good fun. No hint of turbo lag either.
 

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Agree 100% about the Focus' dynamics.

In 2006, i had to take my mum to Spain (long story). She booked a Fiesta as our rental, but we got upgraded to a current generation Focus. My job was to drive, and it was my first experience of a new-generation Focus. On the motorway (the first road we hit) it felt like a VW; firm seats, no-nonsense interior, confidence inspiring steering (amusingly chatty, too), whisper quiet, powerful brakes and excellent body control over undulations. The stuff you touched, felt VW-solid; but the stuff you sensed, felt like it had been developed by people that care (the brakes were beautifully modulated, the steering input and feedback consistent and relative). It felt several leagues above the usual family hatch dross.

Anyway, after the three hour m-way haul (which zipped by effortlessly), we headed toward the sweeping mountain curves. I expected nothing of the Focus above and beyond the Golf-levels of competence it showed on the m-way. But, one confused instruction on the map, and one misjudged bend by me, showed the Focus in its true light; when you say to a cooking Golf 'do you wanna party?' it replies with 'as long as there's a mug of cocoa involved, and an early night'. Much to my surprise (and delight), when asking the Focus the same question, the responses was: 'party? hell yeah! how long and how hard?'

And as i learnt over the next 100 or so km, when you tickle the Focus' skirt, by jimny it loves to party. It's not just the Focus enthusiasm for going quickly that's easy to relish, but the astonishing depth of its ability and capability to do so both effortlessly, and highly entertainingly. I know it looks like a complete potato, but under the frumpy skin is deliciously capable a highly entertaining little minx.

Plus it has a 5-star NCAP, costs button to run and is one of the most reliable motors around.

And what do my folks now have at home in Spain? You guessed it :)
 
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The revelation to me was that my hire car is 'only' a 1.6. Yes it feels underpowered vs my remapped 2.4JTDm Spider but it's more than adequate for London and actually quite good fun. No hint of turbo lag either.
Maybe there is a difference between the 2 engines? (apart from size)
 

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Ford Europe make some very nice drivers cars. It is a pity that Alfa Romeo do not "pinch' some of Fords Suspension Engineers as they seem to be able to do a brilliant job of sorting suspension compliance resulting in an excellent balance between ride comfort and handling, something Alfa Suspension "plumbers" do not seem capable of achieving. The Focus chassis is the reason the Volvo C30 also handles well and with a 2.4i engine is faster than an Alfa 147 2.0 in a straight line and returns similar or the same fuel economy and cheaper.
NB Focus chassis also used on the Mazda 3 series.

Alfa Romeo...a company in trouble when a Volvo of the same class is faster and has better suspension and brakes out of the factory :rolleyes: :eek: ;)
 
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