Originally Posted by JimmyTheMonkey
You are mostly right, with one caveat. The Ford Focus is actually based on the Mazda 3. Mazda designed the chassis and the high-end powertrains. The base engine and transmissions available in both cars are from Ford. Both are fantastic cars, and very similar. It mostly comes down to styling preferences and what kind of deal you get. Although, some Mazda3 models are made in Japan, which is a big plus.
Thank you for correcting me. I'm assuming that the Mazda 3 is the basis for the 'International' Focus? Is there even a difference any more?
I'm a huge fan of Ford manual gearboxes but I'd imagine you'd probably be looking at an automatic in the US. My own car has the 1.4 Ford Zetec unit (probably slightly different from the US equivalent) and it is more than enough to get my car moving, although a slightly larger chassis would be a little more sluggish with a 1.4. A 1.6 would be a very decent engine size for that car - or a 1.8 diesel.
My Fiesta (2005 model, UK) is more than big enough to transport my drums and extra equipment. A Mazda 3 would be a good, comfortable size in the hatchback configuration.