Ford’s compact ZX5 hatchback is a primo player





The Ford Focus ZX5, which only comes as a premium model, features standard heated seats, power heated side mirrors, anti-lock brakes, traction control and fog lamps. Like most Ford models, this five-door hatchback gains its power from a likeable 136 hp, 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine.

Like many five-door hatchbacks, the Ford Focus ZX5 comes only as a premium model — in SES trim.

It comes standard with heated seats, power-heated side mirrors, anti-lock brakes, traction control and fog lamps. Also included are power windows with driver’s one-touch down, 6-way driver seat adjustment, centre front armrest with storage, leather steering wheel and MP3 player.

You can get into a base 3-door hatchback for just $14,899 and the Focus also has a lot to offer in its choice of body configurations: The base hatchback, a 5-door hatchback at $18,899, a 4-door sedan starting at the same price as the 3-door hatch and ranging up to $19,999 in ST trim, and a very practical 5-door station wagon in SE ($17,199) and SES ($19,699) trim levels.

We got to test drive the 5-door hatchback version recently, known as the ZX5, with a 5-speed manual transmission and a new for ’07 rally-inspired GFX option package, which gives the car more aggressive front and rear fascias. This and a few other options brought the price of our tester to $19,599.

As with all Focus models (except the sportier ST sedan which gets a 151 hp 2.3-litre engine), our ZX5 gained its power from a likeable 136 hp, 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine.

Driving this Ford is quite pleasurable. In fact, from this tester’s perspective, the Focus’s strengths include one of the segment’s best blends of ride and handling. The driving position is good, although the steering column could benefit from a wider range of telescopic adjustment; the high roofline means tall people aren’t stuck against the roof even if there’s a sunroof; the seats are comfortable and the layout of the controls is well thought out. The driving dynamics are good and the car is fun to toss around corners. It’s also comfortable enough for highway driving and medium to long trips. I even had enough headroom as a rear passenger. Cargo room is above average, 510 litres (18.0 cu-ft) with the seats up and even more so with them folded, which yields a useful 1203 litres (42.5 cu-ft) when pressed into duty for family moving chores.

It may be one of the older designs now populating the compact car class, but the Focus still earns top marks for its well-sorted chassis and overall driving pleasure.

If there is one complaint against this car, it’s knowing that the European Focus is built on a chassis shared with the Mazda3, while the Focus we get here is built on an improved version of the original Focus design. This doesn’t make our Focus bad, far from it. But when you know it could have been a notch better …

Ford Focus ZX5

  • Type: Compact 5-passenger FWD hatchback

  • Price: $18,899

  • Engine:2.0-litre L4 DOHC

  • Horsepower:136 @ 6000 rpm

  • Torque (lb-ft):133 @ 4500 rpm

  • Highlights: Ride and handling, driving position, cargo space, standard equipment list.