Do you wish your daily driver added a bit more oomph to your commute, while still offering the practicality to get from A to B? Does your current ride no longer spark joy? Let me present you with the Ford Focus XR5.
I first laid eyes on this hot hatch when I was 16, accompanying my dad on a drive to the other side of town. We were bumbling along on the Eastern Freeway when I saw an electric orange flash zip past us at what seemed like lightning speed. I blinked and it was out of sight. I think I even got a second-hand adrenaline rush from the driver, whose rego I distinctly remember reading “JETXR”.
“What was that?” I asked dad.
“That’s a turbocharged Focus – you won’t be able to drive one of those until you’re off your P-plates. They look pretty good don’t they?”
Earth-shattering news considering I had only just got my L’s the week prior.
Fast-forward 8 years later and I have my own 5-pot hatch sitting in my driveway. My pride and joy.
My 2006 Ford Focus XR5 packs a punch. The acceleration in this thing is insane. Put your foot down and you’ll have no problem leaving everyone else in the dust. Couple this with smooth and effortless gear shifting and you’ve got yourself a driving experience to remember. You’ve got the Volvo-sourced T5 engine to thank for that, sending 166kW of power towards the front wheels and flying from 0-100km in 6.8 seconds.
It goes without saying that this car begs you to put your foot down, and of course you’ll want to hear that turbo whine all the time. The front-wheel drive does make it prone to torque steer, which can be annoying (or add to the excitement, you choose!). Your newfound lead foot habit also means you won’t get as much bang for your buck in terms of fuel economy. I consider myself lucky to get beyond 350km out of the 55L tank.
This car is certainly not without its quirks – I still haven’t been able to fold the side mirrors in. I’ve Googled that it’s possible, but I’m convinced they’re going to snap off if I persist. The bonnet lock is a real chore, since you need to unlock it with a key instead of popping it from the cabin. The turning circle is underwhelming – and that’s putting it nicely.
Inside the cabin you are as snug as a bug in a rug in the Recaro racing seats. My model has the cloth upholstery, with orange accents to match the exterior paint. The car is thirteen years old now so the orange has unsurprisingly faded quite a bit, more noticeably on the drivers’ side. The interior is spacious considering its size,; it’s still a party in the back seat!
For a 2006 model, I was certainly impressed with its tech offering. My car came with an aftermarket or factory upgraded Eonon head unit, complete with reversing camera and Bluetooth connectivity. The sound system is crystal clear, even when taking phone calls via Bluetooth. I feel like the paddle next to the steering wheel with volume and seek options was a bit of an afterthought, as these might have been better integrated into the steering wheel itself. The biggest disappointment for me though, is the measly undersized cup holders – they don’t even hold a Mount Franklin bottle of water! If you do manage to jam in a bottled beverage, prepare for discomfort as it obstructs you from changing gears smoothly.
German engineered and built, this little pocket rocket gives you the best of both worlds in terms of top-notch European performance and Ford’s affordable repairs and parts. Ford builds its cars tough, with reliability and performance to boot.
For me, there’s simply no better feeling than walking out my front door every day and seeing my orange beast glowing in the morning light, oozing sportiness and sexiness all-in-one. Hearing the low rumbling note of the exhaust as the engine ticks over never fails to make my day. Oh, and I still get an adrenaline rush every time I get behind the wheel, except it’s not second-hand anymore.