2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST
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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Without much fanfare, Ford made some significant enhancements to its Focus small car for the 2005 model year. Say goodbye to the ‘edgy’ styling that was first introduced in 1999, and say hello to a more conservative and conventional exterior and interior styling theme. The sharp, aggressive geometric angles that characterized the headlight covers, taillamps and interior design of the previous Focus have been replaced with less severe angles and gently rounded corners. In my opinion, the new look is friendlier and more appropriate for the compact sedan and wagon class.

The previous base 110 horsepower 2.0 litre SOHC 8-valve four cylinder engine and the uplevel 130 horsepower 2.0 litre DOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine have been replaced with a new 136 horsepower 2.0 litre DOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine on the sedan, hatch and wagon which offers a 32 percent reduction in tailpipe emissions, according to Ford. However, the sporty ZX4 ST sedan model features a new 151 horsepower 2.3 litre DOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine, the same engine in the Mazda3 and other new vehicles in the Ford empire.

Ostensibly, the Focus ZX4 ST replaces the Focus SVT, but the ST really doesn’t have the power or the sharp handling of the SVT. The ST is somewhere between the regular Focus sedan and the high-performance SVT in both its performance and price.

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST
Click image to enlarge

While base 2005 Focus models with the new 2.0 litre engine start at around $16,800, the better-equipped Focus ZX4 ST starts at $22,995. Standard equipment includes the 2.3 litre engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 16 inch alloy wheels, Pirelli 205/50 series tires, a firmer suspension with stiffer shocks borrowed from the new European Focus, and four wheel disc brakes with ABS and new larger front rotors for better stopping power. Focus ST models also include a rear stabilizer bar, all-speed traction control, fog lamps, rear spoiler and chrome-tipped exhaust pipe. Since the ST’s emphasis is on performance, it comes only with a 5-speed manual transmission – an automatic transmission is not offered.

The interior of the Focus ST has a sportier cabin design than other Focii, beginning with its well-bolstered front sport seats which are upholstered in a durable, sporty black cloth with red tinted seat and door inserts. The ST also features black-faced gauges with metal trim, simulated carbon-fibre dash trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with prominent red stitching.

Standard features include air conditioning, power steering, AM/FM/CD stereo, height-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and power mirrors, power windows with express-down driver’s window, cruise control, and duplicate audio controls on the steering wheel.

There are fewer colour choices for the Focus ST: it’s offered in silver, red, black and dark grey, and interior seat fabric choices are charcoal with red speckled seat inserts or charcoal with suede leather trim.

My red test car with a cloth interior had the optional 6-disc in-dash CD changer and Sony audiophile sound system, side airbags, and perimeter alarm for a total of $950 in options. Add $950 Freight, $100 A/C tax, and the as-tested price came to $24,995.

Interior impressions

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST
Click image to enlarge

The Focus was one of the first ‘tall’ small cars, and its tall roof height and raised seats make it easy to slide in and out of. The raised driving position also provides a taller driving position for better visibility, and generally the Focus offers good outward visibility. My only reservation is the tall trunklid with the added hindrance of a rear spoiler.

The ST’s nicely-bolstered front sport seats hug the torso in the turns and provide a comfortable seating position. A unique ‘window winder’ under the front of the seat cushion allows the driver to raise or lower the seat. Both front seats have seat heaters, but once warmed up, they’re a bit toasty for my buns.

I liked the grippy, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the leather-wrapped shift knob which is well placed and nicely-shaped. The black gauges are easy to read and the new centre console is smartly laid-out. The acute angles in the centre console and instruments have been replaced with a more conventional rounded hood shroud which is now separate from the centre stack. Some may say the new Focuses more conventional interior design is boring, but I prefer it over the previous one.

Two cupholders are cleverly positioned on the lower centre console away from the shift lever so as not to interfere with shifting. Interior storage space is lacking – there should be more places to store phones, cameras, books etc.

Rear passengers have plenty of headroom and footroom under the raised front seats, but the cabin is only wide enough for two full-sized adults – though there are three seatbelts. The Focus has four height-adjustable head restraints – but the centre rear passenger doesn’t get one.

My car had the optional front, seat-mounted side airbags, and though pricey at $500, they are well worth the money if another car ever T-bones you.

The fully-lined trunk has a large opening, and both rear seatbacks fold down for longer items. However, you have to remove the rear head restraints first, pull up the seat cushion, fold down the seatbacks, and then find a place to store the head restraints. Another small gripe, the big subwoofer, part of the Sony sound system, takes up quite a bit of space.

Driving impressions

The Focus sedan has always been one of the better-handling small cars on the market, in part because it was derived from a European design where handling has a higher priority. There is already a new Focus in Europe, but Ford has chosen to soldier on with this current Focus in North America for the time being – with the aforementioned updates.

This Focus is still a very pleasant car to drive – both in the city and on the highway, and particularly on a winding rural road. A fully independent suspension (front MacPherson struts/rear control blade multi-link) and grippy 50-series Pirelli 16 inch tires provide satisfyingly neutral handling with mild understeer at the limit, and a comfortable ride with little chop and straight tracking. Braking is sure with manageable nose-dive and minimal pitch under acceleration.

The new 2.3 litre engine has more power and torque than the 130 horsepower 2.0 litre Zetec motor, and pulls strongly in the mid-range, and cruises nicely on the freeway revving at about 2600 rpm at 100 km/h, and just over 3000 rpm at 120 km/h. The exhaust has been tuned for a sporty note, and this is audible at low or high speeds – but for buyers of this car, that’s probably a plus. Otherwise, the Focus cabin is comfortably quiet with just a little wind noise intruding at speed.

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST
Click image to enlarge

Fuel consumption is reasonable: 10.6 l/100 km (27 mpg) in the city, and 6.9 l/100 km (41 mpg) on the highway. It uses Regular gas.

I liked the ST’s quick, precise rack and pinion power steering, and the manual shifter which provided easy, short, quiet shifts. Clutch effort was light too. The Focus is a very comfortable highway cruiser, with a nice ride, and a quiet, smooth engine.

Overall, I found the Focus ZX4 ST offers a good combination of sportiness and practicality. It could serve a dual role as a small family car and a sports sedan.

Crash tests and reliability

Recent crash tests of the 2005 Ford Focus sedan performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a rating of five stars for the driver and four stars for the front passenger in a 35 mph frontal collision. In side impact crash tests (without side airbags), the right front passenger received three stars and the rear passenger received four stars. For the front passenger, this would undoubtedly improve with side airbags.

Earlier tests of the 2000 Ford Focus sedan (which is essentially the same as the 2005 model) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, show a ‘Good’ rating in its 40 mph offset frontal crash test.

Consumer Reports magazine says the Focus’ reliability has remained average, but noted that models after 2003 were better than average. The Ford Focus is ‘Recommended’ by Consumer Reports.


The small sedan field is the most popular car segment in Canada, and is littered with worthy competitors such as the Honda Civic Si, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Mazda3, Suzuki Verona, Chevrolet Epica, Cavalier and Cobalt, Pontiac Sunfire and Pursuit, Kia Spectra, and Hyundai Elantra.


The 2005 Focus ZX4 ST is a fun-to-drive, roomy sport sedan with average quality and a reasonable price. Though it doesn’t really stand out in any particular area, neither does it have any glaring faults. They’ve all been worked out over the years. This is probably the best Focus ever.

Technical Data: 2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST

Base price $22,995
Options $950 (6-disc in-dash CD changer and Sony audiophile sound system $200; side airbags $500; perimeter alarm $250)
Freight $950
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $24,995
Type 4-door, 5 passenger compact sedan
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive
Engine 2.3 litre 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves
Horsepower 151 @ 5750 rpm
Torque 154 @ 4250 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual
Tires P205/50R-16
Curb weight 1214 kg (2677 lb.)
Wheelbase 2616 mm (103.0 in.)
Length 4450 mm (175.2 in.)
Width 1699 mm (66.9 in.)
Height 1430 mm (56.3 in.)
Trunk capacity 396 litres (14.0 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 10.6 l/100 km (27 mpg)
  Hwy: 6.9 l/100 km (41 mpg)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

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