Sharpest handling small car available
By Mike Freed on
2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST 4dr Sedan (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
The ST is a terrific choice if you're looking for a performance sedan at a low price. It has razor-sharp steering response and great feel, strong brakes, and a suspension that strikes a nice balance between sport and comfort. The 2.3 engine has a lot of torque, but seems to run out of steam over 5000 rpm. The ST is also a solid highway cruiser, and tracks straight as a laser. Best of all, this is an easy car to upgrade with aftermarket parts. I drove all the small sport sedans, and if cost is no object, the Mazda 3s is a marginally better car overall than the Focus (the Toyota Corolla XS and Kia Spectra 5 are also pretty nice), but with all the discounts, is it REALLY $6,000 better?
Sharp handling and steering, loves to be tossed hard into corners, playful personality, cool engine note, plenty of power, good comfort/sport trade off, good interior room and comfort, solid highway cruiser, lots of goodies, sharp looks, bargain price.
Disappointing gas mileage (though my lead foot is probably partially to blame), lackluster high-rpm performance, some cheap interior materials, plain Jane back seat, no side curtain airbags.