- It's the once upon a time world's best selling car,
the Escort's modest step brother,
and the vehicle Ford built to connect with the youth.
(car tires screeching)
A humble four door sedan, a forgettable coup cabriolet,
and a bunch of sporty models, that the American brand
didn't want us to have.
It's time to Focus you nerds,
because this is everything you need to know
to get up to speed on the Ford Focus.
(imitating guitar sounds)
- No, you can't dude
- Yes I can Nolan, you don't know what you're talking about.
- It's literally impossible.
- No, It's not because I can do it.
- Nuh uh. - Yeah, huh.
- Nuh uh. - Yeah huh.
- Nuh uh. - Yeah huh.
- Nuh uh - Yeah huh.
- Nuh uh. - Yeah huh, watch this.
See told you, did it look cool?
In the late 90s, Ford was looking to replace
their long standing and outdated compact car, the Escort.
The once beloved everyday driver
and World Rally Championship winning racer
had evolved into a sixth generation basic in the UK
and a third generation pile of jelly in the US.
Now Ford had learned from previous experience
that it wasn't wise to completely dump a model
from their lineup, to make way for its replacement.
They did that with the Cortina when they released
their new and improved Sierra
and that upset all those sensitive Cortina snowflakes,
aka British people in 70.
So, Ford kept the Escort in the lineup
and released the all new Focus in 1998
to the European market, and in 1999, to America.
The new little sporty compact was met
with mixed reception at first.
Up front had sharp lines and distinctive headlights,
while oout back, it was kind of boring.
People either loved it, or hated it.
It's like the pineapple pizza of cars.
- I love pineapple pizza.
I'm from Hawaii, so I like pineapple everything.
Polarizing as it was, the look stood out
and got the attention of younger buyers,
which was exactly what Ford was hoping for.
Maybe it was the aesthetics, or maybe
it was because the Focus sponsored Ricky Martin's
"Livin' La Vida Loca" tour,
and partnered with Dawson's Creek to be featured
in various episodes of the groundbreaking teen drama.
♪ I don't wanna wait ♪
♪ For our lived to be over ♪
If you have no clue what Dawson's Creek is
'cause you're not old like me, leave a comment below.
The Focus was affordable, got great gas mileage,
and came in all sorts of configurations
to appeal to just about anyone.
Also, it was a great handling car and fun to drive.
It took a bit for the Focus to catch some heat
in the sales department, but once those loyal Escort fans
began to dig the new cool kid in town,
Sales of the Foucs reach close to 500,000 cars
in its second year.
And then as the new car from the land of Hot Cheetos
started to take off, it was plagued with recalls.
Left rear wheels were falling off,
roof pillars were folding in during crashes,
and the ignition cylinder failed,
making it impossible to turn the car on.
The first two years of the Foucs got banged over the head
with 12 safety recalls, and seven defect investigations.
It was one of the worst cases of vehicle recalls in history,
second only to the X-Platform cars GM released in the 80s.
But Ford pressed on, fixing the problems
that plagued the Focus during its first few years.
Improving upon their build quality
and trying to get the public to forget
about the Focus' tarnished reputation.
And one way Ford went about giving amnesia
was by building a more sporty model.
The 2002 Focus RS.
Only 4,501 of the MK 1 Rally Sport Focuses
rolled out for public sale.
Using a turbocharged version of the two liter
Ford Zeta engine, the RS got 212 horsies,
and 229 pound thicks of tuerwerks.
That might not sound all that impressive
compared to current day hot hatches,
but in the early 2000s, this made the RS a great buy
for the performance.
It didn't get all wheel drive like the Cosworth,
it got front wheel drive with a torque bias differential
designed to compensate for torque steer,
which occurs in high power front wheel drive cars.
A tightened up suspension, Brembo brakes,
18 inch Oz racing wheels and upgraded bodywork
completed the package.
Is it Oz, or is it O-Z.
I think it O-Z.
What do you think?
By the way we're going to start doing a thing now,
anytime we talk about a car that we didn't get here
in the States, I'm going to go on our subreddit,
and do a post called James List.
So go to R/Donutmedia to see my list.
And while you're there, let me know other cars
that we didn't in the US.
So, we didn't get the RS, but we did get
the next best thing.
We got the SVT.
The special vehicle team took the 2 liter Zetec four banger,
and massageed the lactic acid out of that pony,
to get an extra 40 buff horses for a total of 170.
The SVT got variable intake cam timing,
a dual stage intake manifold, and high flow,
high compression cylinder head.
This thing was a blast to drive.
I'm guessing, because I've never driven one.
During the same time Ford also decided
to make statement cars.
Special Edition Focuses built from 2000 to 2003.
You got the Sony edition that came with a high performance
Sony Xplod audio system.
A Centennial edition, and a Kona edition
that came with a bicycle, specifically, the Kona Blast.
And they sold them to their young and hip Focus buyers.
Ironically, a crank bolt problem on the bicycle
led to the first ever automaker issued bicycle recall.
You can't catch a break.
So aside from the statement cars they built,
they offered specialized packages marketed as,
tailored for you kits.
You can get the pet package that included a custom pet bed,
a lint roller and a pet safety belt.
The friends package, which came with a ice cooler
and a candy dispenser, and the complete first season
of Friends on VHS.
Well if you're a business person,
maybe you'd offer the professional package
which got a mobile workstation that had a tray
to hold your laptop and other supplies
needed to run a business out of your car.
I can't imagine anything more depressing
than working out of your car while parked
in the parking lot of a Carl's Jr.
If you are working in your car you need to get a new job,
unless you're a private detective, or cop,
or an Uber driver or a race car driver.
Sometimes I'm at work when I'm in a car,
being the host of Top Gear would be cool,
I guess you work in cars there.
Turns out working in cars is actually pretty tight.
Saleen even got in on the Focus fever with the S121.
Although it was more of a looks package.
Using the Duratec 2 liter Inline four,
the cars got a 10% performance bump
by replacing the factory paper air filter
with a more freely flowing air filter.
And a cat back exhaust system, but the cool thing is,
you can get an N20 addition.
nitrous oxide anyone.
- Yes, please.
- You got a factory installed 75 horsepower
shot of nitrous with the bottle mounted in the boot.
But if you hooked up the bottle,
it would void your warranty.
So, whatever, in 2004, Ford took away the SVT.
And England, got the ST.
This was also the first year, where a Focus model
split up into various markets.
The MK2 makes its debut in the UK,
while here in the States, we have to wait until 2008.
Gone was the two liter Zetec, now the Focus was powered
by 2.3 liter 155 horsepower Duratec motor
developed by Mazda.
The Ford Focus ST got the restyle as well
as a 2.5 liter five cylinder turbo Volvo motor
that pumped out 225 horsepower.
Getting the car from zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds.
With all these different models and packages,
it's funny that Ford left out
one particular group of car goers.
- Oh yeah who?
- Someone who likes to take a spin on the coast,
with the wind blowing through your hair.
- You mean a convertible Focus?
- Well actually they did make one,
it's called the Coupe Cabriolet.
- Huh, yikes, that does not look good.
The RS made a UK come back in 2009,
this time getting 300 horsepower
out of a turbocharged five cylinder.
Ford used the ST motor and beefed up the internals
gave it a new intake and exhaust,
and threw on a larger Borkwarner K16 turbo.
The hot hatch could get it.
With a top speed of 163 miles per hour,
and a zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds.
Of the second gen Focus, the one that tops the food chain
is the RS500, the swan song for the second gen RS.
And an homage to the Sierra RS500 racer of the 80s,
only 500 of these matte black mobiles were made.
Sporting 345 horsepower, the RS500 got a larger intercooler
airbox, and downpipe.
All helping it scoot to 60,
faster than his little RS bro bro
by four tenths of a second.
And if you're a Focus fan that lives in the US of A,
And have never seen this version
it's because yes,
we didn't get it.
You're an American car company, and you're not even
giving America any of the cool frickin' cars.
It's going on the list.
Yeah, we haven't talked much about WRC cars because
they share literally zero parts from the street model.
From 99 on, manufacturers were no longer required to build
homologation specials in order to meet requirements to race.
But similar to how it is in NASCAR,
the brands would tag their cars with a model in their lineup
in order to get people to buy one off the showroom floor.
Even if it's nothing like the race car you see on TV.
Good old Frankie boy might mosey into a Ford dealership
thinking he's gonna get that WRC edition.
Sorry Frankie, you got duped.
The Focus RS WRC did win 44 rallies
and two manufacturer titles during its run from 99 to 2010.
So, very successful.
Ford reignited the international and North American Focus
with the MK3 in 2011.
Design of the MK3 was developed using the Third Age Suit.
A wearable device that simulates the physical limitations
of being old, weird.
Ford pushed to make the Focus a global phenomenon,
and it worked.
The third generation Focus was the best selling car
in the world in 2012, with over a million cars sold.
That same year, Ford brought the ST package back,
built as part of the One Ford program.
Which was Ford's way of combining all the various design
and engineering teams around the globe
to produce a single car worldwide.
Which sounds great, because now I get to cut down the list
of fun cars we don't get here in the States.
- Well, unless you want to get the Focus ST Wagon,
we didn't get that, only Europe got that.
- The ST uses a tuned two liter Ecoboost four banger
that makes 250 horsepower and 250 pound feet of torque.
When horsepower and torque are the same number,
I call that Horsepork.
Half buff horse, half buff pig, 100% delicious.
They got all those 250 horseporks
by way of a high pressure direct injection system,
a low inertia turbo and twin independent
variable cam timing.
It took them a few years but the RS line returned in 2016
to outshine the ST.
Hey ST, I got more power baby.
And for the first time in the Focuses history,
it got all wheel drive.
Making this car eat is a 2.3 liter Ecoboost,
the same one that's in the Mustang.
We did an episode of The New Car Show on the Focus RS,
so you can check it out here.
It's basically the tip top hot boy hatch, that you can buy.
Sorry, could buy.
2018 was the last year of the Focus here in the States,
as you might know, Ford has stopped making
a bunch of passenger cars, Focusing (clicks tongue)
on building crossovers and trucks.
The last MK3 Focus for the NA market
rolled of the assembly line in May, 2018.
Ending an era that spanned two decades.
But the Focus name will still live on in the Focus Active.
A Chinese made version that will be imported
into the States.
While other countries across the world
still get to enjoy the new ST and RS models,
we'll only get one model to choose from,
a five door hatchback from China
that looks like a crossover.
- Hey guys, huge announcement, we're launching a podcast
finally, it's called "Past Gas"
about the cars you love them, and the people behind them,
and we'll be telling the best stories in automotive history.
And because it's longer, you get to go deeper
into the juicy details, the fun stuff
that we sometimes have to skip in our shorter show,
so you can watch it here on our YouTube or Facebook page,
every Sunday, and then you can listen to the next episode
Monday, wherever you get your podcasts, iTunes,
Spotify, Stitcher, wherever fine podcasts are delivered.
Go check it out, Past Gas, it's about cars, not about farts.
It's a podcast.
Enzo, come on.
- No, I don't want to race anymore.
- Come on, Enzo, if you stop racing, your brand is dead,
we all know that.
- You don't even care if a Ferrari go to waste.
- Don't say that.
- It's how I feel all the time.
- Oh, what's the problem?
- I feel like everybody like a Ford, nobody like a Ferrari.