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Old 08-18-2009, 07:35 PM   #1
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From ZX3 to SVT?

I've spent the last five years driving a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3. It's black and has an AEM CAI, Ebay catback, Skunk2 pro race 2" drop springs (horrible!), KYB AGX struts, and ICW Mach 10 17x7s wrapped in General Altimax HP 205/40/17 tires.

Unfortunately, of the 100k that I've had the car, the first 30k were spent as a teenager who didn't care much for keeping it in pristine condition. It is riddled with stains, missing trim panels (trunk, gallon of spilt WD40), etc.

I'm looking for a nicer car now, but something that I can still pay cash for. I sold the ZX3 this week and was looking for a fun, semi-luxurious (as in leather, smooth ride) daily driver for my 70 mile round-trip commute. I was looking at such things as the VW GTI 1.8T, Mazda Miata, Audi A4, etc... Then, I found two 2003 SVT Focus' that are in great condition, in my price range, and have only 60-80k on them.

What I'm wondering here is if it is a worthwhile upgrade. I like the focus, and always eye SVTs with envy when I see them. I've always wanted to drop the money on the interior upgrades and whatnot that the SVT offers, but haven't spent the money on them. I'd like to keep the keen cornering of my current suspension setup, but with an overall smoother and quieter ride. I don't need a ton of power, but would like to have a bit more than the stock ZX3 offers, and am not sure how much of a difference the power offered by the SVT actually makes.

What are your opinions?


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Old 08-18-2009, 07:48 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by shupej View Post
I've spent the last five years driving a 2003 Ford Focus ZX3. It's black and has an AEM CAI, Ebay catback, Skunk2 pro race 2" drop springs (horrible!), KYB AGX struts, and ICW Mach 10 17x7s wrapped in General Altimax HP 205/40/17 tires.

Unfortunately, of the 100k that I've had the car, the first 30k were spent as a teenager who didn't care much for keeping it in pristine condition. It is riddled with stains, missing trim panels (trunk, gallon of spilt WD40), etc.

I'm looking for a nicer car now, but something that I can still pay cash for. I sold the ZX3 this week and was looking for a fun, semi-luxurious (as in leather, smooth ride) daily driver for my 70 mile round-trip commute. I was looking at such things as the VW GTI 1.8T, Mazda Miata, Audi A4, etc... Then, I found two 2003 SVT Focus' that are in great condition, in my price range, and have only 60-80k on them.

What I'm wondering here is if it is a worthwhile upgrade. I like the focus, and always eye SVTs with envy when I see them. I've always wanted to drop the money on the interior upgrades and whatnot that the SVT offers, but haven't spent the money on them. I'd like to keep the keen cornering of my current suspension setup, but with an overall smoother and quieter ride. I don't need a ton of power, but would like to have a bit more than the stock ZX3 offers, and am not sure how much of a difference the power offered by the SVT actually makes.

What are your opinions?
Well I have owned both a ZX3 and SVT and let me be the first to tell you, if you like your ZX3, you are going to love the SVT. In my opinion, it is better in every way with the exception of maybe gas mileage. However I still get 25-27 mpg in the city. If I remember correctly, power difference is more noticeable on the SVT in higher rpmís. I cant really remember if the ride quality was different as there was some time between the owning the two cars.
What else would you like to compare?
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Old 08-18-2009, 07:50 PM   #3
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Oh, and welcome to FF
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:14 PM   #4
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well, the A4 is a very nice car!! i would recommend that!!
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:15 PM   #5
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Thanks for the welcome. I've been here from time to time for years, but have always been more of a reader than a committer.

From what you've said, I think I'll have to at least test drive the SVT before I make a decision to buy anything else. I think they offer everything that I want - a sporty, comfortable compact. The only problem for me is that they're both a couple of hours away, so I'll do so this Saturday when I have time off from work. Thanks for your help!
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:17 PM   #6
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well, the A4 is a very nice car!! i would recommend that!!
I'll also see if I can find one of these to drive while I'm in DFW. My friend picked up an '01 S4 a few weeks ago, but I can't find any of those with a manual that I have the cash for right now.
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for the welcome. I've been here from time to time for years, but have always been more of a reader than a committer.

From what you've said, I think I'll have to at least test drive the SVT before I make a decision to buy anything else. I think they offer everything that I want - a sporty, comfortable compact. The only problem for me is that they're both a couple of hours away, so I'll do so this Saturday when I have time off from work. Thanks for your help!
I totally think itís worth taking a look at. Some other things to consider about the SVT over a ZX3. The exclusivity, limited production and build number. I think that is cool, others may not. Let us know what you decide.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:09 PM   #8
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Having only experienced the later, I can say that I love my SVT. Good luck and hopefully (waves Obi-Wan Kenobi fingers) you'll do the right thing.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:35 PM   #9
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Welcome to FF.com and even more so to the TX Foci Crowd.

Well ... in the cars you listed ... I can tell you that the SVT Focus is a great drive. I use to drive a ZX3 then down the road I bought the SVT. There is a difference in Ride Quality and definitely some improvement in Performance (Now that's stock for stock).

The A4 is definitely a great ride also ... I friend of mine had one and it rode smooth ... real nice and definitely can get a nice Euro Look with one of those (IF you are in to that thing)

The VW 1.8T is a pretty good car also. I drove one before buying my SVT and it rode pretty nice. ... and felt like the SVT but with more Torque.

Mazda Miata ... sporty. I have driven the Turbo one ... but from I hear they are still pretty good even without the turbo.

As for maintenance ... I would say the Miata would actually be the better car maintenance wise. The VW and SVT would be neck in neck in repair and the A4 would be pretty costly to fix.

Just Something else you should think about when buying a second hand ... cost of maintenance.

Good Luck in your choice. And again welcome to FF.com

-Ray-
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Old 08-25-2009, 05:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by tukaniSVT View Post
Welcome to FF.com and even more so to the TX Foci Crowd.

Well ... in the cars you listed ... I can tell you that the SVT Focus is a great drive. I use to drive a ZX3 then down the road I bought the SVT. There is a difference in Ride Quality and definitely some improvement in Performance (Now that's stock for stock).

The A4 is definitely a great ride also ... I friend of mine had one and it rode smooth ... real nice and definitely can get a nice Euro Look with one of those (IF you are in to that thing)

The VW 1.8T is a pretty good car also. I drove one before buying my SVT and it rode pretty nice. ... and felt like the SVT but with more Torque.

Mazda Miata ... sporty. I have driven the Turbo one ... but from I hear they are still pretty good even without the turbo.

As for maintenance ... I would say the Miata would actually be the better car maintenance wise. The VW and SVT would be neck in neck in repair and the A4 would be pretty costly to fix.

Just Something else you should think about when buying a second hand ... cost of maintenance.

Good Luck in your choice. And again welcome to FF.com

-Ray-
This is right up my alley.

I've got a 99' Mazda miata and am looking at SVT's right now for a replacement. The miata is a very good car; timing chain, optional Torsen Diff, ~30 mpg combined, sturdy transmissions and perfect balance/communication. It doesn't make a lot of power but it's a car where <60 mph is all that's needed %90 of the time to make you pucker up. It's been reliable too, regular maintenance and 100k miles on the clock and runs fine.


However... Ray, you're really scaring the crap outta me if you're saying the focus and 1.8t gti are on par in repairs...!? I hope and pray you don't mean reliability in general. That damn car (vw) is so notorious for so many small things breaking all the time. It's common knowledge, if the CEL isn't on, it isn't a true vdub... I hope you don't mean repair costs either!!! all the small things on the vw are absurdly expensive too.

My brother went through years of VW's, from the 2.slow to the 2.8 VR6 in the slc corrado, to the 1.8t in the passat, the 2.0 16v in a mk2 gli (by ron wood). I've got a few friends with 1.8t gti's also, as with my brother too, that engine/car seemed to always be having small issues.

Of course, price is relative here too. To me, a broke college kid, paying every month just to keep a car running is out of your mind insane. Then again, those that are making decent money and don't mind, they will get a unique product. Different folks different strokes.

Now, I don't mean to thread jack but what year SVT has had the least reported reliability problems? I'm going to assume the last year, 2004, but I've read that model comes standard with traction control, is this a bummer? I've never bought a car with traction or abs.. Strangely, I'm not too keen on either (i'm sure they would save my life at some point but so far after 5 years, I've never 'needed' them *knock on wood*) I some how like the idea/feeling of being able to lock up my brakes on demand. Ya, I don't know, it's a power control thing i guess.

I've read around on the duratc vs. zetec issue, I've got no aspirations for engine mods.. however, which 2 door first gen focus has the best power/weight ratio, again I'm going to assume SVT, but which model year (both svt and duratec) weighed the least?

I've tried googling/edmunds to get specifications but haven't come across accurate results (edmunds says the 03 year is around 200 lbs lighter then the 02 and 04!!!)

Admittedly, I've never driven a focus. I'd like to try out the svt zetec and 2.3 duratec. I'm most drawn to the EAP but I dunno if finding one in time within my budget ($7k) is manageable.

Any info in looking at used cars is appreciated! thanks.
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