2003 Ford Focus SVT Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Ford Focus SVT

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Ford Focus Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 7000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 18/23 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2003 Ford Focus

  • The 2003 Ford Focus is a wonderful small car that's fun to drive, frugal with fuel and offered in such a wide variety of configurations it would be hard not to find one that suits your needs.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Thoughtful ergonomics, large interior, smooth ride, sharp steering, impressive selection of body configurations and features.

  • Cons

    Seats aren't comfortable for everyone, below-average reliability.

  • What's New for 2003

    Minor changes are in store for the 2003 Ford Focus. Two new trim levels increase the breadth of prices for Ford's economy car; a base trim for the three door hatchback renders air conditioning optional and only comes with a manual transmission. For the five door hatchback, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, front reading lights and a center console are available when you step up to the comfort trim level from the base level. Heated front seats are a new option, as is a traction control and ABS package. New colors for the exterior brighten up the color palette, and the interior is freshened with two new fabric trims. Finally, a CD/MP3 player is now standard on the ZX3 and ZX5. A SVT version of the ZX5 is also scheduled to appear later in the year.

Full 2003 Ford Focus Review

What's New for 2003

Minor changes are in store for the 2003 Ford Focus. Two new trim levels increase the breadth of prices for Ford's economy car; a base trim for the three door hatchback renders air conditioning optional and only comes with a manual transmission. For the five door hatchback, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, front reading lights and a center console are available when you step up to the comfort trim level from the base level. Heated front seats are a new option, as is a traction control and ABS package. New colors for the exterior brighten up the color palette, and the interior is freshened with two new fabric trims. Finally, a CD/MP3 player is now standard on the ZX3 and ZX5. A SVT version of the ZX5 is also scheduled to appear later in the year.

Introduction

"Smart design and spirited driving" were the guiding forces behind the development of the Focus. It debuted in 2000 with "New Edge" styling, a roomy interior and excellent road manners. These qualities, plus a wide variety of configurations, have made the Focus the best small car from a domestic manufacturer. It falls behind the Civic and Corolla in terms of refinement and reliability, but the 2003 Ford Focus is still worth considering for a fun and functional small car.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2003 Ford Focus is available in four body styles: a three-door ZX3 hatchback, a five-door ZX5 hatchback, a sedan and a wagon. The sedan can be ordered in one of three trim levels, starting with the base LX model and going up to the midlevel SE and highline ZTS trim. Wagons are available in SE or ZTW trim. The ZX3 can be had in base, premium or power premium trim, while the ZX5 allows for the choice between base, comfort and premium models. There's also the high-performance SVT Focus, which is based on the ZX3.

Powertrains and Performance

The base drivetrain for LX models is a 2.0-liter 110-horsepower four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission driving the front wheels. This same drivetrain is standard in SE sedans, but ZTS sedans, along with wagons and hatchbacks, get a more powerful 130-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. A four-speed automatic is optional. Both engines provide adequate power, though the higher-output motor is the clear choice for enthusiasts. Still not enough? Then maybe you should consider the SVT Focus. Based on the ZX3, this hot hatch puts out 170 horsepower and is equipped with an exclusive six-speed manual transmission. The SVT Focus also comes with 17-inch wheels, oversize four-wheel disc brakes and a sport-tuned suspension to keep it glued to the road.

Safety

For safety, the Focus has ABS, traction control and stability control as optional equipment. NHTSA crash test scores for the ZX3 are good with the car earning four stars in frontal impacts and front side-impacts. The rear side-impact test, however, resulted in a very poor one-star rating for the ZX3. However, the ZX5 and wagon also scored four stars for rear side impacts. In frontal offset testing (conducted by the IIHS), the Focus has earned a "Good" score.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Focus is roomy for its class, offering generous accommodations for its front and rear passengers. Inside you'll find plenty of headroom. Some options usually not found in this segment include an in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3 player and a stability control system. Some may find the asymmetrical dash layout odd, but the well-dampened controls and correct ergonomic placement should forgive any faults.

Driving Impressions

Regardless of trim, the 2003 Ford Focus offers a smooth ride quality and above-average handling ability. The four-wheel fully independent suspension allows for noticeable body roll while cornering, but the Focus stays planted and inspires confidence. The steering system is surprisingly quick, fluid and responsive, always providing plenty of feedback from the road surface. Our experience with our long-term ZX3 has proven to be more than satisfactory, and the SVT Focus, with its aftermarket-sounding exhaust, short-throw shifter and optional audiophile sound system has proven to be our favorite sport compact hatchback.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Top flight car - if

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SVT 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

Test drove an Acura RSX-S and SVT. RSX felt cramped with poor outward vision poor and didn't come "loaded" as the SVT - which had everything but traction control. Driving position, outward vision and ergonomics all superior to RSX, as are brakes. Body roll excessive and gear linkage slow. Worst feature is the dual mass flywheel, which is supposed to dampen out ham fisted shifting, but merely retards revs, acceleration, and obviates engine braking. Noisy car with practically no sound insulation, although it comes with a good sound system. MPG on the poor side, especially in mixed traffic, (22-23).



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2003 competition orange svt 2

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SVT 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

Love the Comp. Orange color, always the only 1 in a parking lot. The car is about balance. Adequate acceleration, good grip, excellent handling, fantastic brakes. I don't trust my Ford dealer so have not had the clutch knocking fixed but it continues to function otherwise so I'll wait to repair it. Euro package brings nice accessories, but body treatment adds useless weight to a car already weak on torque. I'd trade 15/20 Bhp for 5/10 more lbs./ft. Base car weighs less than SVT! Wrong. I'm 70" tall and my hair rubs the sunroof. Wish it had 16" wheels for improved ride/comfort without diminishing the turn in. 45 series rubber is ridiculous off track. Car is noisy on many surfaces.




I love this car!

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SVT 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

Well, I have only had this car for a week now, but I love this car! It's so fun to drive and its peppy! I have had so many people say they love it! I really don't think I have had any issues or complaints about the vehicle! I would recommend this car to everyone who wants a sporty, fun car to drive with decent gas mileage!




Fun to drive, bang for

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SVT 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

This car is a blast to drive fast and aggresive, but is also good for just cruising and driving for better gas mileage. The car is compact yet has very useful, roomy interior, for a car this size. The brakes and handling are superb. The exhaust note is like a well tuned performance car, not loud and buzzy. The engine has a wide power band and it will pull all the way to its 7200 redline. Itís hard to find a better bang for your buck. I have seen so many other compact and b segment cars priced well above what these cars sell for. And most don't even come close to the performance, value and fun factor of this car. The car has been problem free since I owned it and I drive it daily, and enthusiastically.




I love my focus svt

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SVT 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

I bought this car used, I am so glad I purchased the extended warranty though. Over all the car is great and fun but repairs and parts are pricey.




Best for the money in

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Ford Focus SVT 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 6M)

My Focus 4 door wagon is the best car for the money I have ever had. Huge space with back seat down. Has everything a more evpensive car has except dumb things like outside temperature sign ( just lower the window). Only possible drawback is that the back seat does not seperate the same as the back of seat. Air excellent, good mileage. Wish I could buy another new one here in Mexico! If there is a new one anywhere in Mexico I would fly to get it!



Talk About The 2003 Focus

2003 Ford Focus Discussions See all Started By

hillsman
hillsman
12-21-2013
I am having issues with my side marker lights that stay on. I have removed the battery and have disconnected about everything possible on the car and they still are on. The only way that they turn of?...


sylviagm
sylviagm
04-05-2014
I don't understand anything on cars, but I do know that ever since I purchased a 2003 focus in 2008, I have invested or wasted at least $100. per mo. on repairs. For some weird reason, I've had to re...


amethyst_wm
amethyst_wm
09-13-2009
I am thinking of purchasing a used 2003 Focus Zx5 premium with 69K miles on it. The previous owner took care of the car meticulously. It is spotless--I mean, the car really looks like it is still new....



Read more about the 2003 Ford Focus

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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 18
  • cty
/
  • 23
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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