The car's looks managed to split the staff down the middle. Some liked the sharp edges, while others found the juxtaposition of homely overall form with the "New Edge" design a bit jarring. The styling seems to work much better on the Focus two- and four-door hatchbacks (the latter arrives here this fall) than on the sedan, but at least it looks distinctive.
Of course, there were gripes. Some people felt that the seats lacked lumbar support, some felt that the cup holders weren't quite man enough, and everyone hated the goofy self-locking doors. We have no idea why American automakers feel that the doors must automatically lock after the car moves off, unless they have spent too much time trawling the scuzzier sections of downtown Detroit. And even if they did, why can't they leave the decision to lock or unlock the doors to the driver? On a separate issue, both associate editor Joe DeMatio and Davis got out of the car while the engine was running and were promptly locked out. (Davis was in the middle of nowhere when it happened, so his logbook comments were very entertaining, if unprintable in this family magazine.)
Not everyone was convinced of the car's inherent quality, a worry that was manifested early in its life by a mysterious dashboard rattle that wouldn't go away for nearly half of its time with us. At the first service, at 2355 miles, our local Ford dealership couldn't find any obvious cause for the rattle, so they fettled it a bit and put it back together. This seemed to do the trick in the short term. But, like that nasty Freddie Krueger, the rattle kept coming back. Eventually, just to prove that the term dashboard is a vague one, a mechanic found that a plastic shroud in the engine bay was vibrating against the fender at speed. Once it was tightened under warranty, there was only one more complaint, and thereafter we assumed the problem was dead and buried.
For all the talk of craftsmanship and quality from Ford higher-ups such as vice president of global product development and quality Richard Parry-Jones, the interior isn't up to snuff compared with a Honda Civic or a Volkswagen Jetta (although the folks from Germany do charge a lot more for their products). The interior fitments are pretty good, and they lasted well, but Ford still needs to move its game on. While the interior design is interesting and works nicely, no one had anything good to say about the obviously fake wood on the center console, which copy editor Matt Phenix said "resembles actual wood in the same way Mickey resembles an actual mouse." At least M. Mouse has two ears, two eyes, a mouth, and a nose. It's a shame that such a crude piece got through the product-planning stages, because the metallic treatment that Ford puts in the ZX3 hatchback looks so much better.