The 1994 KH Laser has been the family workhorse for many years, the first car we bought when we moved back to Australia in 96, done many kms, moved houses a couple times, two boys learned to rally, er, drive on it. (
So, I was requested to find a replacement, and so I jumped into the Blue Flame and headed out. The vehicle requirements: Laser sized again, auto (but it was not allowed to be a total slug), air, ABS, cruise, non metallic paint, 5 door hatch.
I stopped at Toyota (Corolla), Honda (Civic), Mazda (3), VW (Golf), and Ford (Focus). Companies that were not considered at all were Holden, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Daewoo, etc. Holden in particular not because I feel associated with Ford, but because friends of ours have had major dramas with the dealer here and their small cars are far over priced anyway as a company. Others were dismissed immediately due to quality of vehicle and materials not being to our liking, just a personal choice.
The Golf was the first car I looked at, being NRMA's best mid sized car, but straight up I realised the car was far too over-optioned for a base model and therefore far too expensive. Over to Honda, a similar deal, expensive cars, and while there is a base model sedan without the variable timed engine, but the base hatch had the VTEC engine and started over 32 grand, pricewise. Mazda's 3 was a real contender but again, once you added the ABS, auto, air, it was soon up on 30 grand also. Toyota's Corolla came closest, being ever reliable, but the base model was under-optioned and over priced in comparison to the final contender, the Focus. The Corolla did well against it's competitors, ended up just over 28 grand with what we wanted, but the Focus really had the last say.
The Focus's worst problem was the lack of non-metallic colours. Even black is metallic now, and my blue flame has been discontinued since late last year, so the only colours left were White and Colorado Red. To avoid the hire car look, we went with the red.
Auto is always a 2 grand hike on the manual. Safety is a priority on a family workhorse, so one option was the safety pack which adds ABS, discs all round, and an extra airbag. Cruise control and the leather wrapped steering wheel were nice touches, plus of course, the obligatory set of Focus mats. All this came in at $22,630 on the road, our previous extremely sour experience with our lemon BA XR6 giving us leverage to force a very low price from the dealership. Plus the 5 year warranty being offered by dealerships at the moment is good.
The 2.0L auto performs as expected, effortlessly doing what it should, obviously Focus owners are familiar with the way the car drives as far as chassis dynamics, with the IRS and all. And to come in at about 6 grand cheaper than other high quality rivals, the totally unbiased decision was the Focus.
Because the safety pack is a factory fit, there may be a wait on the vehicle, but we're in no rush. So, there'll be another EuroFord in the family before long, did not think we'd ever buy another Ford after the BA experience (we'll never buy another Falcon again ever no matter what still), but here's hoping the car will be 100% reliable as my own Focus has been, as it really won the race in the mid sized car segment for our requirements.