Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec Climate 5dr Price from £8500 Year '05/05
The Ford Focus has proved so good over its two generations that we've picked it twice in this class.
The previous model (below) is still worth considering, but prices on this latest version have now come down so much that it's our champion in this category.
For around £8500, you could be driving a shiny two-year-old Focus that's got everything going for it, including a year left on the maker's warranty.
Not that we expect anything to go wrong. So far, the second-generation Focus has proved to be a well built car that's super-dependable. Running costs are also very affordable.
Breathtaking drive The cabin isn't as cutting-edge as the previous model's, but it's well laid out, spacious and comfortable. On top of that, the controls are easy to use and the driving position is great.
Then there's the way it drives. The Focus is breathtaking on the road. Whether you want to have some fun or just relax and cruise along, the Focus can do it all.
Easy to find Make sure you get the 114bhp version of the 1.6-litre petrol engine, though. You'll be pleased with the extra pace it has over the 99bhp model, and even happier to know that it's actually a tad more economical.
We'd always pick Zetec Climate trim for the excellent mix of safety features and creature comforts that it offers, including air-conditioning.
Like its predecessor, this Focus is Britain's best-selling car, so you won't have to look hard to find good examples. Take your pick from those at dealers or supermarkets and from private sellers.
Buyer's guide: Power: 114bhp Fuel economy: 42mpg (average) Depreciation: 37% Insurance: Group 6 C02 g/km: 159 NCAP rating: 5 stars Reliability rating: 3/5 Service intervals: 12,000 miles
Up to £4000 Ford Focus 1.6 Zetec 5dr '01/51 £4000
Nissan Almera 1.5 5dr '02/52 £3500
£4000-£8000 Toyota Corolla 1.6 T3 5dr '03/03 £6250