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Ford Focus voted greatest car of past 25 years


LONDON — It may be only a modest family hatchback but the Ford Focus has seen off some of the world’s most celebrated supercars to be voted the greatest car of the last 25 years.

Motoring fans put the Mk 1 Focus at the top of a list of 50 vehicles, which also included a Bugatti, Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari. The humble Mini Cooper also made the top 10 in a poll for Auto Express magazine.

The Ford Focus Mk1 was introduced in 1998, effectively as a replacement for the ever popular Ford Escort, which had been built in various forms for 30 years. It was manufactured for seven years before being upgraded and can now be bought second hand for as little as pounds 500.

But in a poll to mark the 25th anniversary of Auto Express, it was voted the best vehicle of the past quarter of a century. Despite the supercar contenders, it was not even the souped-up 345bhp Focus RS500 which made the running. Instead, the standard version of the car’s original incarnation - which was available with a humble 1.4l engine - took the top spot.

Beaten rivals in the top 10 included, in third, the 240mph McLaren F1 and the pounds 830,000 Bugatti Veyron, whose Super Sport version is the fastest legal road car in the world, which came seventh.

The Audi TT Mk1, Aston Martin DB9, Rover Mini Cooper and the latest model of the VW Golf also made the list. Second place went to the Lancia Delta Integrale rally car.

Jack Rix, the news editor of the magazine, said: “The Focus has beaten a hot hatch with world rally championship pedigree and the world’s greatest supercar. That may shock some, but for us there is no more deserving winner. Why? Because when the Focus was introduced, it didn’t just improve on the stodgy looks and dynamics of the Escort it replaced, it redefined what customers should expect from an affordable hatchback. Even today, it is a very comfortable car.”

Kevin Delaney, the head of road safety at Britain’s Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “It is nice to see some recognition for the simple family car.

“In many ways I am not surprised. There are these sports cars out there and we can all look at them, but just as I am never likely to own a Rembrandt, I’m never going to own a Bugatti Veyron.

“You can aspire to owning a Ford Focus and like all Fords they just go on and on. It is a simple, reliable form of mass transportation.

“If you were to ask what the greatest ever car was most people would probably say the Model T Ford and this is just following in that tradition.”

The Focus was an instant success and remained top of the UK sales charts until it was replaced by a new model in 2005. At the time it was seen as having a revolutionary look for a family hatchback. Other cars of the past 25 years did not fare so well with the magazine’s readers.

According to the poll, the worst 10 cars, in no particular order, were the Rover CityRover, Daihatsu Move, Mitsubishi Carisma, Suzuki X-90, Renault Avantime, Skoda Estelle, Lexus SC 430, Nissan Serena, Citroen C3 Pluriel and the Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible.

Top 10 cars of the last 25 years: 1. Ford Focus Mk1 (1998-2005); 2. Lancia Delta Integrale (1979-1994); 3. McLaren F1 (1992-1998); 4. Volkswagen Golf Mk7 (2012-?); 5. Nissan GT-R (2008-?); 6. Audi TT Mk1 (1998-2006); 7. Bugatti Veyron (2005-); 8. Alfa Romeo 156 (1998-2006); 9. Aston Martin DB9 (2004-); 10. Rover Mini Cooper (1990-2000)

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