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Car reviews - Ford - Focus - TDCi 5-dr hatch

Launch Story

16 Apr 2009

FORD has finally completed its LV Focus hatch and sedan range rollout a year after the LV XR5 Turbo flagship turned up in Australia in May 2009 and around 18 months since the facelift surfaced at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show.

However, the South African-made Focus coming to Australia is subtly different to its European-built counterpart, carrying over the same old side sheetmetal – presumably in an effort to save money.

This is most evident in the pronounced door crease bisecting the door handles on the German-built XR5 Turbo that other LV Focuses do not have.

Ford says the changes to the front of the South African Focus were done in Melbourne.

Prices have rocketed by $1500 for the base CL hatch and sedan, now starting at $21,990. Nevertheless, Ford still expects half of all Focus buyers to choose this.

The other volume model, the mid-range LX hatch and sedan, has crept up by $300 (and should account for about 30 per cent of sales), but this model now includes the previously optional curtain airbags, ESC stability control and Ford’s traction control system.

The remaining 20 per cent of Focus sales should be split evenly between the sporty Zetec from $27,290 and TDCi turbo-diesel from $1000 more. Their prices move up by $800 and $300 respectively, but both gain all the safety gear as standard as well.

Ghia is gone, ending a 33-year run of ‘luxury’ branded small Fords wearing the once-proud Italian coachbuilder’s coat of arms (the 1975 Escort Ghia introduced Ghia on Australian Fords), but the XR5 Turbo lives on from $36,990.

Except for the doors and roof, the LV is a reskin of the previous two Focus models (2005 LS and 2007 LT), wearing the ‘Kinetic’ design language devised by former GM Europe designer Martin Smith, and which has been deployed for the latest-generation Mondeo (MA series, 2007) and Fiesta (WS series, 2009).

This is clearest in the LV Focus’ nose, which boasts a sleeker set of headlights and grille, a larger Ford badge, and a different bumper bar compared to before.

Modifications have also been made to the rear window shape on the hatch, as well as the tail-lights, bumpers and positioning of the badges. Larger side mirrors and new colours complete the exterior massaging.

The changes inside are limited to a restyled central dashboard fascia, revised instruments, and the addition of fresh convenience items like USB and Bluetooth connectivity. All aim to lift the perceived quality of the Focus’ cabin.

Underneath, one of the biggest changes to the Focus is the addition of an ‘automatic’ gearbox on the TDCi. Dubbed Powershift and co-developed with Getrag, it is Ford’s six-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox to take on Volkswagen’s successful DSG unit.

Low fuel consumption is a Powershift highlight: Ford says the combined figure is 5.9 litres per 100km – just 0.3L/100km more than the TDCi with the six-speed manual.

Ford hopes the Powershift version of the TDCi turbo-diesel will help lift sales against the popular Golf TDI, as buyers in this segment prefer not to change gears themselves.

Powershift features a low speed ‘creep’ function that emulates a regular torque-converter automatic transmission, but without the heavy fuel consumption penalties. It also has sequential shift.

Ford Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Beth Donovan told GoAuto in December that having an “automatic” diesel in the range was desirable.

“We sell around 150 each month (of the manual), so it makes sense (to have an automatic),” she said.

Meanwhile, while the power (107kW at 6000rpm) and torque (185Nm at 4500rpm) of the 1999cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (shared with the new Mazda3) remains the same as before, Ford says that it can run on E10 10 per cent ethanol, while the 1997cc 2.0-litre TDCi (100kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm at 2000rpm – or 340Nm during brief over-boost periods, says Ford) can operate with B5 five per cent bio-diesel mix.

Carbon dioxide emissions are rated between 147 grams per kilometre (TDCi manual) and 194g/km (2.0 petrol with the four-speed automatic – the standard five-speed manual’s output is 169g/km).

For the record, the LV XR5 Turbo’s Volvo-built 2522cc 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine’s headline numbers are 166kW at 6000rpm, 320Nm from 1600 to 4000rpm, 9.3L/100km and 224g/km.

The South African plant that supplies our CL, LX, Zetec and TDCi models only commenced manufacture of the LV series late last year – up to a year before the European plants such as the Saarlouis facility in Germany that makes our XR5 Turbo. Hence that car’s earlier introduction.

Total Focus sales for the first three months of 2009 are down 17.2 per cent compared to last year, in a small-car segment that has contracted 15.2 per cent, against the total passenger market’s 18.1 per cent fall and an industry-whole slide of 19.2 per cent.

Ford is hoping to sell at least 1300 Focuses per month.

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