A look back at the Mk1 Ford Focus | Rare Techy


Introduced in 1988, the Mk1 Ford The Focus was a revolutionary car that set a new standard for all hatchbacks. Its mission was to prove that small family vehicles can be practical, comfortable and fun.

The MK1 came with a new design that had never been seen before. This made the car even more popular and allowed Ford to jump ahead of rivals such as Volkswagen and Vauxhall. The vehicle also offered excellent handling, meaning it was nimble and enjoyable on the road.

Mk1 is part of the first generation Ford Focus models (1998-2004). The first generation has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a practical wagon, a fast hatchback or an affordable city vehicle. The TDC diesels are a fan favorite because they are powerful yet economical, but the petrol engines are also outstanding.

The Focus differs from its predecessor, the Escort, in that when it debuted in October 1998, it immediately charmed critics. The Focus quickly rose to the top of the UK bestseller charts, with Ford selling over 11,000 units in a month. Namely, it became even more popular after it found its way into the used car market.

Let’s find out more about the Mk1 Ford Focus.

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A brief history of the first generation Ford Focus

Blue Ford Focus mk1 rear view
FotoSleuth via flickr

Ford introduced a wide range of Focus models in October 1998, but many were available a year later. There were three- and five-door hatchbacks, a stylish saloon and a station wagon. Engines were 1.4-, 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-liter Zetec gasoline engines and a five-speed manual transmission.

Trim levels were CL, Zetec, LX and Ghia, but there were plenty of options. These vehicles had heated mirrors, a windshield and air conditioning. In addition, they had safety features such as anti-lock brakes, traction control and side airbags.

Ford also launched a special edition, the 1.8-liter Millennium five-door hatchback, in October 1999. They painted it striking yellow, black leather seats and extras including a CD player, electric windows, dual airbags and unique alloy wheels.

Later, in May 2000, the brand launched the Zetec Collection special editions. They are based on the sporty three- and five-door Zetec models, which featured the full Ford RS body kit as standard. These models featured bumpers, spoilers, chrome exhaust covers, a mesh grille and 15-inch alloy wheels with a distinctive 3×2 spoke design.

Ford fans were still hungry for a sportier Focus model, and the company gave them the ST170. They launched the car in February 2002 and it was rare, making it a collector’s item.

The first generation models lasted until the end of 2002; it was sad as most of them had a major impact on the automotive world. Fortunately, the second generation models (Mk 2) carried the mantle and offered better features and engines.

The Mk1 Ford Focus achieved average performance but had top-notch handling

2004 black Ford Focus mk1 station wagon
via: Flickr

Under the hood, the 1.8-liter double overhead camshaft four-cylinder made 114 horsepower and 115 lb.-ft. The engine provided decent performance, but the five-speed manual transmission made things better.

A 2.0-liter engine was optional, producing the same peak power of 114 horsepower, but pumping out more torque at a maximum of 119 pound-feet. Unfortunately, a 2.0-liter four-speed automatic was mated, making it a poor performer.

While its engines were disappointing, its chassis made up for it. This should come as no surprise, however, as European Fords have made a name for themselves with outstanding handling.

Ford combined a MacPherson Strut independent front suspension with a multi-link independent rear suspension, and the handling was precise; it showed where it was going. At that time, few cars in this class could compete with the little Ford in terms of road dynamics.

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2003 Ford Focus Mk1 interior
MMalczyk via wikimedia

The MK1 had a decent amount of safety features, including a driver’s airbag, but if you wanted more, there was an expensive ABS braking option. Higher trims, however, had driver and passenger airbags and standard ABS brakes.

The first Focus model had no transmission problems. However, later models would have problems with automatic transmissions that kept customers from buying the Focus. The automatics of the first model were conventional gearboxes, not the double-clutch gearboxes that bring so much money to the owners.

Owners generally praised the vehicle for minor issues such as loose or broken hardware. Mechanically, the Focus model is good; There are no real issues with the engines or transmissions to worry about.

The interior of the vehicle is nice and cozy. All passengers have good head and leg room and can travel without stress. In addition, the Mk1 Ford Focus had a well laid out cabin with everything within easy reach of the driver. But the plastic couldn’t compare to that of Japanese competitors.


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