New Versus Old - 2008 Ford Focus Long-Term Road Test

2008 Ford Focus Long Term Road Test

2008 Ford Focus: New Versus Old

March 03, 2008

Ford Focus, 2000 to 2008 -- both by The staff

There are a few of us here at the office who have been around long enough to remember Edmunds' first long-term Focus, a 2000 ZX3 hatchback. In our September, 2000, update for the car, I was quoted as saying:

"The ZX3 has all the typical versatility of a small hatchback ... you know, haul the groceries, park at the mall to see a movie, stuff like that. But what you don't expect is how Ford has made the car fun to drive. [The] steering is quick and responsive and the suspension does an excellent job of providing a comfortable ride and sticky handling."

Here's the thing about our new 2008 Focus SES coupe: to me, it's less versatile and seemingly less fun to drive.

Ford discontinued the hatchback body style in 2007. And while it's been a long time since I drove an earlier Focus, I distinctly remember our first Focus being more fun to drive than the current car. Another long-time editor agreed with this observation.

Ford says that it revised the suspension tuning for 2008, giving the car softer springs and a bigger front antiroll bar. So it likely rides better and is more stable, but in terms of steering and handling response the new model feels heavier and less eager.

The 2008 Focus is certainly a better car overall, but in regards to handling and driving enjoyment that old orange ZX3 will be more fondly remembered.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor, @ 3,198 miles

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