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Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Acura RSX, Coupe, Hatchback
#193 of 232 Focus SVT
Apr 14, 2004 (5:37 am)
I am quickly approaching 50,000km in my '02 SVT in just over 14 months. The car has proven to be very reliable. There was an issue with a rough idle/surging that was cured with a software flash update from Ford. Once had a check engine light which required a new fuel cap to cure.
This car is a joy to drive on a daily basis. The extras the Focus SVT offers over the Civic Si such as the audiophile sound system, heated seats, traction control and 17" wheels make a difference in the value proposition. The SVT is more relaxed on the highway than the Si, with the engine turning about 500rpm less in 6th gear. The SVT makes decent torque down low, and performs well enough if shifted at 3000rpm. With a set of snow tires working with the traction control, the SVT even works well in the snow. Ford offers a good warranty on the Focus, so you can't go wrong! One thing I recommend to SVT Focus owners - you must rotate your tires every 10,000km or so. The rear tires get worn on the inside edge, and can get loud if not rotated every so often.
#194 of 232 Re: Focus SVT [dmould #193]
May 16, 2004 (9:30 am)
I have had my Ford Focus SVT since Sept. 2002. I bought it mostly for cool European styling, great handling, comfort (the car fits like a glove) and a racy sounding exhaust.
I had the following mechanical problems (none of them major)
1) A/C motor replaced
2) Dashboard replaced (fuel gauge didn't read correctly)
3) Loose piece of trim next to passengers seat reattached
4) Driver's seat's bolt tightened (it was squeaking)
5) Clutch spring replaced (squeaking)
Overall I am reasonably satisfied with mechanical reliability so far (23000 km)
The car has poor build quality (rear hatch misaligned with very uneven gaps, dashboard misaligned, huge tolerances for plastics inside the cabin etc:). Materials quality is poor, but at least better than most North American's GM offerings.
To sum it up: I am not pleased with build & materials quality in this car (most Americans don't pay much attention to those things, that's why they build them the way they do here)
If I had to buy a new car now I would go for Mazda 3 which I don't think is cheapened out for North American market like Focus was and still is (and probably always will be).
May 16, 2004 (11:09 am)
dmould - how much did you pay for your SVT? The 7 problems that were reported between you and charliepl were a major reason I didn't buy the SVT - I had concerns about build quality.
As far as value:
1. heated seats - no use for me (in California)
2. 6 speed - wish I had one
3. sound system - would have to hear it before I judge
4. 17" wheels - How much do they weigh and what tires do they come with? This is probably worth less than $500.
The SVT is a good value and a good car, but I paid $15980 for my Si, and I don't know that I think the SVT is a better deal. Especially with all of the issues reported in the last two posts.
#196 of 232 Re: [muffin_man #195]
May 17, 2004 (4:27 am)
I second that. At the time I was looking at cars, end of 2002 - early 2003 the SVT had no rebate nor discounts. The WRX could be had for $20,000 for a left over 2002, Matrix/Vibe were both in high $19,000 for XRS/GT, Mini was still at $25K for Cooper S with options to make it comparable to Si. And Si was advertized in local papers for $15,000 for a 2002 left over. I scored one for $14,500 with 1.9% financing.
1. Heated seats - would have been nice in winter, but suede does not get as cold as leather.
2. 6 speed - i would really like one, but if it geared taller than Si's 5th. The RSX-s 6th gear is same ratio as Si's 5th. Not sure what the gear ratios and final drive is in the SVT. But if I could make my car run at 2500 rpm at 80 mph, it would be nice.
3. I replaced mine with MP3 headunit anyway
4. 17 inch wheels are useless, only more rotational inertia than 15 inchers.
#197 of 232 blueiedgod
May 18, 2004 (10:19 am)
You did very well picking up your Si for that price. At the time I bought my SVTF, the Civic Si was selling for about $2000 CDN less.
FYI - most Focus SVTs seats are leather on the outside edge, with a cloth insert to breath and hold you during aggressive driving. The seat heaters provide heat well before the heater on cold mornings! The SVTF 6th gear is definitely taller than the Si 5th, although it still turns close to 3500rpm at 80mph. The Focus audiophile system sounds very good, much better than the Infinity system in my Dakota.
How do you figure 17" wheels are useless? In addition to the good looks and aggressive stance, they offer a ton of grip with the factory summer performance Continental tires. Superior handling and braking. I hardly call that useless. Why do you think Honda went to 16" wheels on the '04 Civic Si?
May 18, 2004 (2:40 pm)
Tires have much more impact on braking and handling than wheels. Factory wheels tend to be heavy. I bet you could save 10 pounds a corner going to lightweight 15" wheels, with no handling compromise. I think the dynamic improvements provided by the lighter wheels outweighs any visual benefit.
#199 of 232 Re: blueiedgod [dmould #197]
May 19, 2004 (3:28 am)
How do you figure 17" wheels are useless? In addition to the good looks and aggressive stance, they offer a ton of grip with the factory summer performance Continental tires. Superior handling and braking.
The wheel diameter has nothing to do with amount of grip tire can privide. It is the cross sectional area of the "contact patch" that privides the grip and traction. A 15 inch wheel with a wider tire will provide the same amount of grip as a 17 inch tire with the same width. But the 17 inch wheel will have about 4 times the rotational inertia of 15 inch wheel. Inertia is described as I=mr^2, where m= mass at the radi, and most of the weight in a wheel is concetrated at the rim/tire rather than hub, and r=radius. Increasing radius, increases rotational inertia (I) exponentially.
Increased inertia puts additional stress on your hubs and bearings, as well as reduces your et times.
Large wheels are all about show, they do look nice. This is why Honda offered 16 inchers on the 2004 Si, because most kids have no clue what larger wheel does to car's handling characteristics, but it looks nice.
Formula 1 cars still use very small wheels, ever wonder why?
#200 of 232 SVT 17" wheels
May 19, 2004 (6:34 am)
The factory 17" SVT Focus wheels weigh about 21 pounds, about 5 pounds more than your typical 15" alloy wheel. A switch to 15" tires of the same width would require a higher profile tire, which would weigh a little more than the low profile 17" tire. Overall though, yes a lighter wheel/tire combo is beneficial, especially in acceleration and braking, less so in cornering.
"A 15 inch wheel with a wider tire will provide the same amount of grip as a 17 inch tire with the same width." This statement is only true if the 15" tire is the same diameter as the 17" tire, as the diameter also affects the contact patch. A 15" tire of the same diameter will have a taller sidewall, resulting in a loss of responsiveness (and possibly grip) with the added flex in the tire. There is something to gain with a larger rim/low profile tire combination. The added weight and inertia is overcome with more horsepower and better brakes on modern cars.
Perhaps the 13" tire technology from Formula 1 will make its way to the streets, reversing the trend to larger wheels?
May 20, 2004 (3:14 am)
A 15" tire of the same diameter will have a taller sidewall, resulting in a loss of responsiveness (and possibly grip) with the added flex in the tire.
Having a 15 inch wheel with a 2 inch side wall would definately defeat the purpose of having a 15 inch wheel in the first place. I was merely comparing the 15 inch stock wheel/tire combo on Si to the stock 17 inch wheel/tire combo on SVT.
If my stock tire is 195/60-15 and I were to upgrade to 215/55-15, I will increase the contact patch while only gaining 0.1 inches in radius. For the 17 inch wheel you would have to have 205/45-17 tire to have roughly the same circumference, radius and diameter. Problem is that the mass will be removed father from the axis of rotation, resulting in higher rotational inertia.
You can't beat physics.
I wonder how often drivers out there take their cars to the limit of adhesion in every day driving. I do, (I admit, I am an aggressive driver, let the flaming begin) on my daily commute, but I see more expensive and more capable BMW's and Porsches just hogging the left lane.
#202 of 232 New Focus or used Integra / RSX
May 20, 2004 (6:53 am)
Hi all, I'm soliciting opinions about my impending car purchase:
I'm moving to CA, and need to unload my beloved '91 Integra RS (best car I've ever owned, btw). I can afford a new Focus ZX5, and I like the idea of having rear doors and the PZEV engine, which I hear is quite spunky. (I test drove an SVT at my local dealer, but they didn't have the 2.3 on the lot).
I hear that the Focus' reliability has improved, but I'm concerned about the long-term outlook and resale value.
On the other hand, my Integra has treated me sooooo well, that I'm considering getting a 2002 RSX-S or even a 2001 Integra GS-R. Unfortunately, the new ones don't fit in the budget.
Finally, my girlfriend just bought a new Civic Si, which drives beautifully (and I have no trouble switching back and forth from her shifter to mine). I just don't like the profile--I think the Edmunds reviewer called it "a door wedge with wheels."