Car reviews - Ford - Focus - Coupe-Cabriolet
19 Nov 2007
By CHRIS HARRIS
FORD Australia this week launched its new Focus style leader, the Coupe-Cabriolet, claiming new benchmarks in its class for luggage capacity, fuel consumption and value for money.
Priced right alongside the Holden Astra Twin Top at $45,490, the Focus CC costs almost $15,000 more than its nearest equivalent sedan variant.
Ford claims the Focus CC is better equipped than its Holden rival as it features dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, a premium Sony audio system, an interior motion-detector alarm system and metallic paint at no extra cost.
Automatic transmission costs an extra $2000 and Ford expects 75 per cent of buyers to opt for the self-shifter.
As well as the Astra, the new Focus CC is up against the Renault Megane CC, Volkswagen EOS and Peugeot 308CC in C-segment cabriolet stakes, but Ford claims superior engineering and features over them all.
Only a single 2.0-litre petrol-engined model is offered – which is most closely comparable in terms of specification with the Focus Ghia – and Ford hopes to sell about 100 units a month.
The first 100 vehicles were delivered to Ford dealers nationally this week and are now on sale.
The company says it was keen to get into the convertible market because sales have grown 27 per cent to 11,000 units in the last few years against an overall passenger market growth of 19 per cent.
Ford has no plans to produce a more powerful turbocharged or V6 version and, while a turbo-diesel variant is available in Europe, it will not be offered here because it does not come with an all-important automatic transmission.
The Focus CC is the first powered hardtop produced by Ford of Europe, and the first of its cars to carry the badge of Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina, which produces the CC at its Turin factory.
Based on the Focus Vignale concept car that appeared at the 2004 Paris motor show, the CC is built on the Focus sedan platform and went on sale in Europe about five months ago.
Apart from the obviously different coupe-like side profile and entirely different rear end, the CC is distinguished from regular Focus models by extra chrome strips around the upper and lower grilles, the fog lamps and around the higher waistline, as well as at the rear between the tail-lights.
Bumpers, mirrors, door handles and bodyside protection mouldings are presented in body colour – and the eight available colours are all exclusive to the convertible.
The two-piece hardtop opens or closes at the push of a button in 29 seconds but, unlike many other similar systems, it cannot be done while the car is moving because of safety and durability concerns.
It is operated by five hydraulic cylinders, three electric motors and 11 sensors. The weight of moving parts is 68kg (30kg less than more complex designs, says Ford) but the overall weight penalty for the CC is still 150kg.
Luggage capacity with the roof up is a healthy 534 litres – 94 litres more than the Astra – and that reduces to 248 litres with the roof retracted into the boot.
A horizontal luggage separator blind in the boot acts as a sensor and will not allow the roof to retract unless it is in position, preventing the roof from folding on top of items in the boot.
Volvo-style pop-up roll bars behind the rear seat provide rollover protection, along with reinforced A-pillars, and re-engineering under the skin was required to maintain the sedan’s crash safety standards.
Although Ford was unable to provide a Euro NCAP crash rating figure, the company believes that it matches the regular Focus for front and rear impacts as well as rollovers, and points out that it is fitted with six airbags, standard electronic stability control and ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
The automatic roll bars, which pop up 20cm in one-tenth of a second in the event of an accident, created a problem in relation to the unique Australian Design Regulations for child restraint anchorage points.
Ford was granted a special dispensation by the Department of Transport to mount the anchors slightly forward of the required zone because the affect is “minor” and “inconsequential” – but the dispensation came at a price.
The company has been required to provide Focus CC buyers with a free child safety seat, an arrangement that apparently was also done to allow the Jaguar XK and the Volvo C70 convertibles onto Australian roads.
Ford’s familiar 2.0-litre Duratec HE alloy petrol engine (as found in other Focus models and also the Fiesta XR4) powers the CC, producing 107kW at 6000rpm and 185Nm of torque at 4500rpm, with 90 per cent of torque available from 2200-6000rpm.
Its fuel consumption figures are claimed to better its rivals, being 7.5L/100km on the combined cycle for the manual and 8.3L/100km for the auto.
The manual gearbox is a five-speed unit while the US-built auto has only four speeds.
Front and rear suspensions are taken from the XR5 Turbo, but have been tuned to provide more comfort. Nevertheless, the dampers are 30 per cent stiffer than a standard Focus sedan and the stabiliser bars are eight per cent stiffer at the front and 33 per cent at the rear.
Although the CC rides on 17-inch five-spoke alloys and can be ordered with optional 18-inch units, the spare is a space-saver that cannot be used over 80km/h.
Inside, the CC largely mirrors a conventional Focus in layout, but it has been given more luxurious trims and appointments in keeping with its status and price.
In addition to the dual-zone climate control, Sony sound system and anti-theft device, standard features include black leather sports seats that are heated (very handy in a convertible as they enable you to leave the roof open in colder weather), leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, automatic wipers, heated mirrors and a cooled glovebox.
Ford is targeting young professionals and older couples looking to spoil themselves, and insists it is chasing men and women equally.
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