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Ford Focus ZX3 / SVT vs. Honda Civic Si / RSX



  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    LOL, you're right, Vadp [not necesasrily about my financial market wizardry, :{]. It's all speculation.

    It helps me, though, to estimate the price tag attached to the wish - when I'm wishing.
  • dmoulddmould Posts: 76
    I am very interested in purchasing one of these cars, and would like to know what people have paid in Canada. The Civic lists for $26350 ($25,500 + 850 freight), and the loaded SVT lists for $30700 including freight.
    Our SVT dealer still has the 2002 Focus SVT, all the colours available.
    I test drove the SiR, and found it much nicer than the 2002 Civic Si coupe we currently have. More power, quieter, and hatchback roominess. I am 6ft tall, yet my head annoyingly touches the roof in the coupe - no problem in the hatch.
    Anybody buy one of these in Canada?
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Due to speculated demand, this discussion has moved back form our arhived files and reopened. Thanks for your participation!

    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
  • mattpdxmattpdx Posts: 41
    Okay people, I've read all 8 pages of arguments on this subject. I've heard all the reasons blah blah blah...and let me just tell you how I see things as somebody who SERIOUSLY considered a Focus ZX3 (before I knew about the SVT, which I also considered once I learned about it).

    Civic + :

    1)Crash tests.
    2)Higher resale value
    3)Higher gas mileage
    4)Better overall quality (i.e. body gap tolerance, interior materials, etc)

    Civic - :

    1)Lower HP
    2)Smaller Tires
    3)5 speed tranny
    4)Possibly eats up oil (but who cares, oil is cheap, right?)
    5)Thieves love it
    6)Needs-rhinoplasty front end
    7)Strange hard plastic dash/weird area above knees (is that space for cell phones? Change? SOMEBODY PLEAAAAAAASE tell me! arrrgghgh!!!)

    Focus + :

    1)Great looks (in my opinion, it is WAY cuter than the current Si, though that will change with the Si freshening for '04-just you wait!)
    2)6 speed tranny
    4)Interior (not the most attractive, but again, for some reason I LIKE IT)
    5)Fewer recent recalls (i.e. quality/reliability is up)

    Focus - :

    1)Past recalls make me VERY nervous
    2)Ford, in my mind, is FOUND ON ROAD DEAD
    3)Resale value NOT so good
    4)Crash test reults!
    5)Lower gas mileage (yes, I know it has to do with a more powerful engine, but you can't compare the Si to the ZX3)

    For me, as a consumer, it comes down to TWO THINGS...and at least one of these things one of you said "nobody cares about".

    2)***GAS MILEAGE*** (bells go off)

    I am from Oregon. In the 70's the state created jobs by having people not pump their own gas. I now live in Texas, where you pump your own gas. I HATE PUMPING MY OWN GAS. People in Oregon are truly spoiled. That being said, I want to go as FAR AS I CAN GO without refueling. And therein lies the answer: the car with the higher mileage.

    Civic, you're my baby. I love you. Can I take you to dinner? What, you like Synthetic? What vintage...?

  • fslaugtsfslaugts Posts: 36
    I agree with you mattpdx. I have read a great deal about both cars. But I want the si. I don't trust the reliability of the focus svt.. That is my number one concern. The last time I checked 03 si's were going for $16500 here in florida. OTD $18200. I really want to hold out for the 04. I almost bought an 02 si last January for $17500 OTD but someone else beat me to it while I was Thinking about it. I have been mad every since..
  • dudkadudka Posts: 451
    Well, I have the si, and it is a blast to drive. It DOES eat oil, the dealer is telling me that a quart/1000 miles is ok for now, and Honda is aware. BS, they are going to have to re-build my engine or give me the RSX Type S engine with the 6 speed (direct bolt on) before i agree to keep it (possible lemon law action)
    Honda has an excuse though, Si's are built in England.
    Other than that, the car is quick. it has an unusually low red line (somewhere by 7200). I constantly bump into the rev limiter (could be the reason why i lose oil) At highways speeds, the car is very stable, but defenately needs 6th gear, at 80 mph it is revving at 4000 RPM. But that low gearing is great for stop and go driving, you cvan easily drive in 1st gear at 5-15 mph without bogging the engine, or playing with the clutch. In an "aggressive driving mode" I can easily chirp the tires in 2nd gear. Up hill starts in the wet are somewhat tricky if you are not at "hell and toesing" a little too much gas and can do a wild burn out. This past winter, I had to resort to 2nd gear starts on slick roads.

    The car is very stiffly suspended, which is a plus in my eyes, going over bumps never makes it bounce up and down like regular civic does.

    The seats are very comfortable, as long as you are not overweight, they are molded and only the seatback is adjustable, as opposed to seatback and coushion adjustments on the EX.

    The shifter takes a total of 15 minutes to get used to, and then you start asking "Why haven't they thought of that before?" The location places it much closer to the steering wheel, allowing for very quick shifts. Lack of armrest and the shifter location make it impossible to rest your right arm anywhere. I just hook my finger on the bottom of the steering wheel.

    I have not driven SVT, so I can not comment.

    My girlfriend, who drives regular focus, summarized it in "way too much power"

    The i-VTEC engine is a much better version than regular VTEC. It has gobs of torque down low, hence the wheel spin. Purinsts will disagree with me. It really behaves like a small V6. 50 to 70 accelerations do not require downshifting anymore.
    To be honest, I like pumping my own gas. I am in NJ allot, and that is another state where you can not pump your own gas. How many times my "check engine light" has come on because those kids at the station did not tighten the cap (3 clicks)
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    I agree wholeheartedly with Dudka's impressions
    mine stopped using oil at about 3K miles. I don't drive quite as hard as Dudka (but hard enough to get 23-23 mpg on many tanks).

    People - on the street, at lights, refilling propane, at the gas pump, etc. - comment positively a lot.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    My si is at 12,000 miles, and hasn't eaten any oil since my first oil change, which I did at 3000 miles.

    It's a fantastic car.
  • rlafaverrlafaver Posts: 70
    I have tried the Focus, and I like it. I thought the comparison would be interesting, so I read these posts, but the myth of Honda quality keeps getting in the way. I bought two brand new Hondas in the 90's, an Accord and a Civic. Both were 100% serviced by Honda and both were junk, so I have never bought another and I would not (transmissions, brake rotors, CV joints, paint, etc., etc.) Thank goodness I didn't buy the "indestructable" hype from the sales guy. I bought extended warranties for both.
    I cannot understand the hang up Honda owners have about hiding their problems. Perhaps it is because they paid too much and are embarrassed about admitting they bought junk. I was embarrassed too, but my anger was much greater.
    I have had many good cars and a few bad ones (bad were a Pontiac, 2 Hondas, a Suzuki).
    I think if you stick to performance experience people can get a better comparison. Besides the Focus drivability, the thing that amazes me is the list of aftermarket add-ons Ford makes for the Focus. They include cosmetic parts and performance parts, and all can be added without voiding your warranty. I saw one with some sort of compartmentalized, tubular headlight system that was mind-blowing, and I learned that it was a Ford part, not third-party.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    I've had zero problems with my car, aside from an occasionally squeaky driver's side window.

    I owned a 1991 Accord until sometime in 2000. In the last two years, the brakes would wear down quickly. The front wheel bearings locked up, and I had to replace a CV boot. All of this was at the 8-9 year mark. For the most part, I was very happy with it.

    I'm glad you like your Focus, I seriously considered one. But as a _general_ rule, I would take my chances on Honda build quality over Ford.

    Is your Focus an SVT? If it's an ordinary ZX3. It is not really comparable to the Civic Si, especially in power or interior equipment levels. That said, if you got it for a bargain basement price, you are driving a wonderful car on the cheap.
  • I wasn't always a hater. I had a nice little 97 escort loved it for about 6 months good little economy car. trans DIED. Dealer refused to fix it even though it was clearly under my extended warranty. finally settled in court they took back the 'scort and I got a focus outa the deal. much faster than my scort but in an auto and I didnt race it or mod it. Engine froze after a month and a half. Ever since been strictly a Honda/toyota guy. I have an 02 civic ex all modded with the RSX-s swap. Love it to death not 1 problem yet. also have a 2000 camry I got used in late 01 has 90+K miles drives like new still. Even after getting t-ed by an expedition doin 40 mph + and my little celica which I liked better than the SI sorry. But I would take the SI over the FORD anyday.
  • dudkadudka Posts: 451
    My Si has been to the dealer many times in the last 7 months and all due to defects. My girlfriend's Focus has not been to the dealer once, only for maintenance.

    Let's see.
    1. A clip inside the door panel was loose and rattled from day one -- fixed under warranty
    2. center vent stuck in the "to the right" position -- fixed under warranty
    3. Clear coat started peeling in the hatch area ---- fixed under warranty
    4. It is under Honda's oil consumption test right now
    5. Just the other day the inside door handle on the driver's side broke -- have not taken to dealer yet.

    I am disappointed at Honda's QC, but what do you expect from a car made in UK.
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Here are a couple other discussions which you may find helpful: Best Hot Hatch - SVT, Civic Si, GTI, RSX, Mini, Beetle... and Which Hatchback?. You may want to use your copy/paste so you don't have to re-write your question. Good luck with your decision.

    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
  • mdrivermdriver Posts: 385
    They sell the Civic coupe in the UK and it's made in the US. They have exactly the same reservations about a US made Civic as you do about a UK made Si. Hence, Brits hardly buy any Civic coupes. The idea that the Honda factory in the UK makes substandard cars is based on fantasy.

    Whoever said the 02/03 Si's resale was a plus compared to the SVT will be very disappointed. You have to ask yourself how much of a trade-in the guy got for an Si you can buy new for $4k off MSRP.

    The current Si should be compared more to the ZX3 than the SVT. The SVT has stellar handling, braking and steering, the Si doesn't quite match up.

    Reliability. Yes, many Honda owners are fiercly loyal and do downplay any defects with their cars. But the reliability is proven also and so it's my opinion that it's probably a 50-50 combination of actual good reliability and perception. The SVT has no perception of good reliability and owners are much less likely to give the Ford a "break" when it come to reporting any problems.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    Si vs. SVT vs. ZX3. Look at the TCO's. The SVT outcosts both of the others by about a third, and the Si is cheapest of the bunch to own. The financial argument - Ford loses.

    Shucks, on the financial issue alone the RXS Type S beats the SVT.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    1. Resale
    The points you have made about resale, on two seperate forums today, only apply to people who paid MSRP. Anyone who paid $16k or less (and there are many of us) is going to be fine.

    2. Si vs. ZX3
    If you don't like the Si, just say so. Every major magazine compared the Si to the SVT, never the ZX3. Car and Driver liked the Si better than the GTI, and only slightly less than the SVT. And Motor Trend liked it better than the SE-R. I never drove the Zetec ZX3, but I've driven the new PZEV, and it's very nice, but it does not compare with the Si.

    3. Reliability
    My Si has a noisy drivers window, and a creaky clutch, and that's it. I have 15,000 miles, no other problems. Now, I didn't bring up reliability, you did, but if you are going to say that the legendary reliability of the Focus is comparable to the Si, I am going to think you are only here to be argumentative.
  • mdrivermdriver Posts: 385
    Nope, not argumentative, I have a Civic and didn't buy a Focus ZX3 based on reliabilty alone, even though I thought it more of a sporty ride than the Civic. It's interesting you mentioned a creaky clutch. Mine (02 EX) creaks badly too. Did you fix it and what needed to be lubricated? Thanks.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    I haven't fixed it, but it does require a trip to the dealer. Apparently they need to replace the clutch spring and bushing. It's a pretty common problem.
  • dudkadudka Posts: 451
    My girlfriend has a focus, albeit it is not a ZX3, it is a 4 door sedan SE ZTEC, but I think it would apply to most of the Focus line, except SVT. It has a few flaws, but Si is not perfect either.
    The bad:
    1. Engine is very noisy at any RPM above idle.
    2. Clunky shifter, I am almost never sure what gear it is in.
    3. Handling is way too soft for my liking.
    4. Downright dangerous to drive in the rain as the tail is constanlty wiggling at any speed above 45 mph.
    5. Her trade-in after a year is only $9000-10000.
    6. Poor uphill pick up in 5th gear.
    7. Way to many things are optional, which should have been standard.

    The good:
    1. Good low RPM torque
    2. Good gas mileage (over 30 mpg)
    3. A/C is ice cold
    4. Has not been to the dealership for anything onther than regular maintenance.
    5. 0.0% financing

    Civic Si:
    The good:
    1. awesome shifter position
    2. smooth and crisp gears
    3. lots of power down low (just like focus)
    4. engine is much quieter through rpm range
    5. awesome handling (i can take turns at 70 mph, as if it were straight away)
    6. much cheaper than similarly packaged focus.
    7. 4 wheel disk brakes with Electronic Force Distribution.
    8. Dirt cheap if you look (got mine for $14,500)

    The bad:
    1. Unusually high oil consumption - dealer assures that it will stop after 10,000 miles. Will see.
    2. Has been to the dealer for manufacturing defects 3 times, and now is ready to go again for a malfunctioning door handle.
    3. Seats are highly saught after by "modifiers wannabes" (thieves)
    4. Unusually low red line (6800 according to honda, 7200 according to my tach)
    5 Desperately needs 6th gear, as it runs at 4000 rpm at 80 mph in 5th.
    6. No arm rest, not even optional.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    I would like to preface my thoughts by saying that I like the focus, in all of its incarnations. I think it's a great car, and I might get one for my gf.

    "The Bad"
    1. I haven't had this problem, so I can't comment.
    2. What defects? I have 2.
    3. Not fair to use that as a negative!
    4. The tach is meaningless, it's 6800. And that is only unusually low for an Si. Isn't the overall performance more important than the redline? I much prefer the power delivery of this car (and its redline) to the older Si. It is much more usable in every day driving.
    5. A 6th gear doesn't mean overdrive. The RSX-S has a 6th gear (and you can easily put that transmission into the Si), and so does the Miata (and many others) that simply have closer spaced gears. No overdrive. The SVT doesn't have overdrive either.
    6. I was having trouble shifting in the Focus with the armrest down, although I suppose it would be nice for cruising.
  • dudkadudka Posts: 451
    well, i agree that overall performance is indeed excellent, but I come from a long line of Honda's, and I am used to hanging in the high rpms. I contantly bump the rev limiter in the Si, not so often lately, but pretty often until recently. I think the peak HP in the K20A3 ( I think that is what in the Si) is at around 6500 RPM, that only gives me 300 rpm to play with before shifting. But I am glad that torque is available down low, defenately make sit a better city vehicle, with shirt bursts of stop and go traffic. Overall, I am happy with the Si, but I will stop picking on ford, Focus did not need unscheduled visits to the dealer.
  • Anybody out there that thinks that a Ford Focus or any american car can even be in the same ballpark is kidding themselves. Hondas are a completely different quality then any Focus. In the beginning both are equal until you start to put miles on them. Try redlining your focus and racing it around on a regular basis and it will fall apart it is just a matter of time. The honda about 90% of the time will hold out literally forever under the same conditions. Why is it if american crap is so reliable and great do they not have any websites to prove it. Honda on the other hand has which is a website where honda owners can put there high mileage cars on it. I searched for weeks and could not find any american car sites like this. The honda site lists numerous people with 500k+ mileage and many of them have been redlining and modifying their cars since day one. Also one guy even used vegatable oil in his old Honda instead of regular just to see if it would destroy the engine and it had no affect at all. If you do by american like a Focus you will get a better deal there is no doubt about that. Hondas are more expensive to maintain and to purchase new but in the long run they will not nickle and dime you to death like the Focus or american crap. Just make sure you trade in your american crap before 100k miles otherwise you will definitely become a Honda fan quick. Most people do not keep their cars past 50-100k miles before trading them in so never discover how crappy that american car really was so love to say that they were great cars. If you are like me and do not want to shell out a car payment forever you will get a Honda and keep it when the payments stop and still not have to worry.
  • Any american crap owners look on and go to cartalk section and look under the car surveys. This is an area were you can look up any car by make model and year and consumers over many years have written their comments about the cars and all the american ones(especially Ford) or at least most of them have consistent problems when you get cars that are more then 3-4 years old, however the Honda consumers constantly state how great the car is from the 2003 clear back to the early 80's and that is definitely not the case in the American car sections. As far as I am concerned consumers experiences mean a lot more then JD Power or any frekin survey
  • bc01clsbc01cls Posts: 44
    Well this IS a heated discussion and I am entering it rather "late". However as an owner of BOTH a Civic Si and an SVT Focus I thought I might jump in here with some observations. SVT beats all of them financially including RSX. I bought my 02 SVT new for $16K LOADED with roof, leather, best 6CD sound system (with sub) I've ever heard (including my 01 Acura CL-S Bose system), 170hp Cosworth engine, 6 speed Gertrag box, 17" wheels, PW, PDL, Cruise, tilt, awesome ABS 4 wheel discs, etc. My 99 Si was great but I personally think Honda's assembly quality here in Ohio is slipping in the Civic department. Not thrilled about the English version either. (More buzzing than I wanted to hear in my 99.) I enjoyed my 99 Si, but you couldn't keep it on an interstate long without tiring either. High revs and not the best seats. SVTF comes with bolstered seats and lumbar for both driver and passenger, plus power lower cushion lift for driver. I drove 940 miles straight through at 85mph and it shines at highway speeds. Mind you, I am not a big Ford fan and think their quality lately really sucks even when compared to Chrysler (my 02 Ram QuadCab has been perfect for 26K miles), but so far the SVT has been flawless. Driving wise there is no comparison since the SVT is better balanced all the way around. It's one of those cars that you drive once and fall in love even though Ford sells and services it (gulp!). However, resale will be crap so you have to buy one at the end of the year and NEVER pay near sticker (20-21K!!). Then it's a deal! I see the new Si selling off sticker as well which does not bode well for Honda's resale. To me Honda lost it when they discontinued the 99-00 Si with double wishbone all the way around and better looks than the new version......just my opinion. That said and all quality debates aside, you have to drive an SVT to see what a surprise it is. Plenty of guys at with 36k to 40k miles and no problems so I think there's hope for Ford. Hard to beat at the price I paid.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    Congrats on that SVT buy. I had no idea you could touch a SVT for $16K.

    With no wish at all to rain on your parade, check out the resale prices. Even with a buy price equal to the Si ($16K, smart shopper's price), the SVT comes in 2nd, buckwise, by $2-$3K.

    These MSRP's are silly, IMO.
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    and thanks for your notes! It's interesting hearing from someone that's owned both the SVT and Si.

    One small suggestion: it's a good idea to break up your longer messages into small paragraphs. This will makes it easier for other to read; and people will be more likely to read your entire message if it's easy on the eyes. Thanks for your participation! ;-)

    To Everyone - Since the RSX has been brought into the discussion here on a number of occasions, I'm going to add it to the title subject. Hope this is helpful. Happy motoring!

    Host of Hatchbacks & Wagons
  • dmoulddmould Posts: 76
    I test drove both these cars before choosing the SVT back in February. Here in Canada, the Si is almost $3000 cheaper, and would probably hold a better resale value. The Si does have nice seats and a very smooth drivetrain. I didn't like the short gearing which caused high RPMs and some noise on the highway, and the interior is a little cramped - my dog would not be comfortable in the hatch area of the Si like he is in the SVT. The SVT is so much more of a driver's car, and I love to drive. The extra's that the SVT has over the Si such as the great stereo, 17" wheels with performance tires, the 6th gear to bring down the RPMs on the highway, heated seats and traction control (keep the wife happy) make the price difference worth while. Driving the SVT is a joy every single day. We have had a couple of minor problems like a check engine light (new fuel cap) and abnormal tire wear (new strut and tire), but the dealer has treated us well. SVT owners get a free vacuum and car wash with every trip to the dealer! 18k miles in less than 9 months with the car.
    The car we traded in on the SVT was a 2002 Civic Ex (Canadian Si) Coupe. My wife had hit a deer with it, and although the repair looked good, we decided to trade. That car was not of the highest quality - we had to have a strut replaced on it in the first 10k miles. So the Ford has been no worse than the Honda we had. Great thing about the Civic Coupe - fuel economy. Poor things about the Civic Coupe - lack of headroom (I'm 6ft tall, and my head was always touching, very annoying), less than stellar handling, not very quick.
    The bottom line is that I would recommend the Focus SVT to anybody, especially if you like to drive. I've tried Solo II racing in the car, great fun. Ford has a long powertrain warranty on the car, to quell any concerns about quality.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    Consumer Reports states that the Focus reliability has improved to the point the Focus is now recommended. Not only recommended, but at the top of the list for small cars.

    This in the same week that Honda announced huge recalls (not Civic).

    Interesting how much change can occur in a short time.
  • redsirredsir Posts: 34
    You cannot convince me that product quality can change overnight.

    When looking at a Focus in the showroom I found the inner door jam had been unpainted. Why would anyone put that on display? How many people at Ford failed to see that?

    To me that translated into equal apathy towards the rest of the car. Sorry no sale.

    Reviews say this is a great car to drive, obviously well engineered. Too bad the rest of the company didn't hold up their end.

    Final word, count the number of orphans Ford has created. How long will it be before the Focus is old news and gets moved to the back of the lot?

    26000 km on my 02 SIR. Some nits but no major faults. Most of all it's a blast drive and fits like a glove.
  • I love my Si, but I'm very happy to hear the Focus is doing so well. Lots of interesting news in that article.

    I recently lowered my car by changing the springs, and the handling has improved significantly. Should be a lot of fun as long as the stock shocks last.
This discussion has been closed.