Do you like the looks and packaging of the Focus ZX3-but need the convenience of four doors? Does the squarish outline of a wagon leave you un-interested? Here's an alternative: Ford has slipped the new-for-'02 ZX5 hatchback into the Focus lineup to address those who want to retain the hip appearance of the coupe, but plan on actually using the rear seats.

Built in Hermosillo, Mexico, on the same line as the ZX3, the five-door ZX5 shares exterior and interior dimensions with the three-door model. Cargo capacity is 18.6 cu ft, falling in between the sedan's 12.9 and the wagon's 37.5. Like the ZX3 and wagon versions, the flip-up seat bottoms and 60/40 split rear seatbacks can be flopped forward, creating an ideal space for hauling larger stuff. Rear seat head- and legroom are identical in both ZX models.

The only engine available in the Focus ZX5 is the 2.0L DOHC Zetec I-4, generating 130 hp at 5300 rpm, while torque weighs in at 135 lb-ft at 4500 revs. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a four-speed electronically controlled automatic. Driving the ZX5 is much the same as any other Focus -decently good, with a worthy dose of fun. Quick steering, tossable chassis dynamics, and a willing powerplant translate into confidence-inspiring behavior.

Hatchback sedans have previously found little favor in this country; this one deserves your consideration.