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Facelifted Ford Focus powers up

Focal point: The facelifted Focus carries a number of styling changes to bring it into line with its passenger car siblings, including the new trapezoidal grille.

Refreshed Ford Focus range gets 1.5L EcoBoost from mid-year, but ST here in March

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Ford logo10 Dec 2014

FORD’S facelifted Focus will ditch the existing naturally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine for a higher-output 1.5-litre turbo-charged EcoBoost unit in the name of improved drivability and economy when it is released in July.

However, it will be beaten to market by up to four months by the ST hot-hatch flagship that arrives in March due to the German factory coming on stream before the Thai facility that supplies the bread and butter Focus variants for Australia.

Making their Australian debut at Ford’s 2014 Go Further future product and technology event in Melbourne this week, the revised four-cylinder hatch and sedan range also adopt a variation of the existing corporate face featuring a redesigned headlight shape, fog-lights, bonnet, bumper and grille.

A sleeker-looking rear end comprising of slimmer tail-lights and reshaped tailgate, revised suspension geometry, dampers and bushes, an electric steering retune for sharper dynamics, and a comprehensive cabin overhaul to elevate comfort, quality, functionality and aesthetics are also part of the newcomer’s repertoire.

A significantly larger, higher-resolution and now touch-capable screen in the centre console brings a more sophisticated SYNC2 voice-activated connectivity system, while an enhanced automatic parking device with perpendicular as well as parallel capacity is also being offered.

Also new to the range are a three-spoke steering wheel, greater storage capacity, newly adjustable cup-holders, an easier-to-access glovebox, and a programmable key that allows parents and guardians to restrict speed and audio volume, and even completely disable motion, if their usually younger and/or inexperienced occupants are not wearing seatbelts.

Delivering 134kW of power and 240Nm of torque in the mid-range Trend, Sport and Titanium models, the lightweight 1.5-litre direct-injection EcoBoost also ushers in six-speed manual gearbox instead of the five-speed unit currently used, however most buyers will pick the six-speed dual-clutch Powershift automatic transmission.

It is also expected that the 92kW/170Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol EcoBoost first seen in the EcoSport crossover and Fiesta Sport ranges may replace the naturally aspirated 92kW/159Nm 1.6-litre four-pot engine in the base Ambiente.

An upgraded 136kW/400Nm 2.0-litre TDCi will be the diesel alternative, while all 2015 Focus models feature thicker carpets, side glass and engine insulation for a quieter and more refined experience.

Caught in the top-spot crossfire between the all-new for 2014 Mazda3 and sharply priced Toyota Corolla at around 40,000 sales apiece, the Focus has struggled of late, recording a sizeable 22 per cent slump to just over 14,000 units to the end of November year-on-year.

The Focus – Ford’s top-selling passenger car – is trailing the aforementioned small cars as well as the Hyundai i30 (28,677), Volkswagen Golf (17,741) and Holden Cruze (17,013).

Ford Australia vice president marketing, sales and service Graeme Whickman said the fresh design and useful technology boost should give the Focus a boost in the marketplace.

“With its impact and quality, people will take notice of it,” he said.

While proving popular in European markets such as Germany, the accompanying wagon version has yet again been nixed for Australia.

Expected to carry the LZ codename, the facelifted Focus debuted back in February, and is based on the LW series that arrived in Australia in August 2011.

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