The old Ford Escort was consigned to rental fleets a couple years ago and is now gone completely, but its ZX2 sport coupe derivative rolls on. The ZX2 is targeted toward first-time buyers between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. The Ford Focus has taken over the spot formerly occupied by the Escort, but it offers no direct equivalent to the ZX2 coupe.
The ZX2 comes in three trim levels: Standard, Deluxe and Premium. Rather than standing pat, the ZX2 gets some styling and equipment revisions for the 2003 model year. A new front fascia with fog lamps gives what Ford calls a fresh, more aggressive look. Integrated fog lamps are installed on Premium models. An AM/FM stereo with an in-dash CD player; a tilting, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel; a map light; and speed control are standard in the Deluxe and Premium models.
The front-wheel-drive ZX2 coupe sits on a 98.4-inch wheelbase, measures 175.2 inches long overall, stands 52.3 inches tall and is 67.4 inches wide. Its sporty styling is meant to attract a younger audience. Flush-mounted glass and color-coordinated polycarbonate front and rear bumpers are installed. A rear spoiler is standard, and a power moonroof is optional. Machined-aluminum 15-inch wheels are available on Premium models.
Four occupants fit inside the two-door ZX2. Reclining front bucket seats with new diamond-stitched inserts are installed. The rear seats have limited headroom and knee room. A full-length center console includes dual cupholders. The 60/40-split, rear seatback folds down to expand trunk space beyond the regular 11.8 cubic feet. A cassette player is standard, and a premium sound system with a six-CD changer is optional.
Leather-trimmed seats are optional with the Premium package. Premium models feature power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry and an anti-theft system.
Under the Hood
A dual-overhead-cam Zetec 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 130 horsepower. A five-speed-manual transmission is standard, and a four-speed automatic is optional.
Antilock brakes are optional, and side-impact airbags are not available.
More basic than seriously sporty, the two-door ZX2 was not exactly the epitome of small-coupe quality and enjoyment in its early years. In fact, sales never really took off, and the ZX2 appeared to have fallen off a lot of shopping lists.
But in its 2003 form, the ZX2 is almost fun to drive. It is relatively quiet and feels reasonably solid. The car offers an easy ride with very light handling, and it tends to cause the driver to hold back a little. But with a manual shift, its performance is rather spirited.
The ZX2s interior appearance is basic. The driving position is comfortable and satisfying, and it faces a modern dashboard with easy-to-read gauges and conveniently grouped controls.