Future models - Ford - Focus

First look: Ford lifts the lid on Focus

Keeping an edge: Ford designers have attempted to retain the edgy styling that’s helped make Focus one of Europe’s most popular nameplates

Ford’s Paris show surprise is a second generation Focus hatch

Ford logo6 Sep 2004

FORD of Europe has unveiled the eagerly anticipated Focus hatch redesign three weeks ahead of its Paris motor show premiere on September 23.

Set to replace the current Focus in Australia by May or June next year, the Blue Oval’s vital small car replacement will be available from launch here in three, four and five-door bodystyles.

Focus wagon will not be sold here and whether Focus’s sharp handling continues with the new model won’t be known until the hatch’s European media launch in late September (Focus sedan will be launched in early 2005).

But it is clear Ford designers have attempted to retain the edgy styling that’s helped make it one of Europe’s most popular nameplates.

Focus has notched up four million sales globally in six years to become one of the world’s top-selling C-segment models, although it’s only been on sale Down Under for two years - since September 2002.

That launch was overshadowed by the release of the vastly improved BA Falcon the same month, which put the brakes on early sales of Australia’s first Focus. Ford Australia will be keen to avoid a similar situation with the new Focus, which will also need to contend with other new premium small cars like Holden’s new Astra, its fiercest rival.

The next Focus continues with high-mounted C-pillar lighting and features even more angular headlights and pronounced wheel arches, but steeper front and rear glass and a more curved roofline give the larger new Focus a rounder shape.

"It is an entirely new way of looking at Focus but it remains clearly a Focus nonetheless, balancing that sportiness with functionality and practical daily living," said Ford of Europe director of design Chris Bird.

"The body section is undoubtedly the fullest in the class, which allows us to create very successful derivatives. We have exactly the same overall length and wheelbase with the Focus as we do with the Focus C-Max – very different designs that are still instantly recognisable as Fords with the high rear lamps, the solid-looking surfaces and premium quality appeal." To be built in Saarlouis, Germany, and Valencia, Spain, on the same architecture that underpins the 2003 Focus C-Max, Volvo S40/V50 and Mazda3, Ford says the new Focus benefits from shared engineering resources without diluting its unique character and dynamics.

"Tangible advancements in quality and refinement inside and out" are also promised, along with relevant and affordable new technologies such as Bluetooth capability.

27 center image Ford claims a 10 per cent increase in Focus’s class-leading torsional body rigidity, along with 40mm wider wheel tracks, a 25mm longer wheelbase, a development of Ford’s Control Blade rear suspension and a new front suspension subframe.

"To establish a benchmark for best-in-class agility, precision, comfort and stability, we evaluated the strongest ride and handling characteristics of the competitors," said Ford of Europe supervisor, vehicle dynamics, Jürgen Pützschler.

"It quickly became clear that the best benchmark was still the original Focus." The result is said to be a higher level of comfort via higher levels of vibration isolation without sacrificing Focus’s agility, stability and precise steering, which on 2.0-litre variants is electric-hydraulic power-assisted (EHPAS).

Larger diameter brake discs are claimed to deliver enhanced pedal feel and longer pad life, while a new interior pivots on a higher quality centre console to create more of a cockpit feel.

Sport and Titanium variants will feature a bright blue upper interior colour combined with a lighter lower half, while other specification levels are Ambiente, Trend and Ghia.

The next Focus will pioneer Ford’s 1.6-litre Duratec engine with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) technology, which is claimed to increase torque while reducing average fuel consumption by up to five per cent by improving airflow.

The new 1.6-litre engine matches the current entry level 1.8-litre Focus for peak power with 85kW available and, while there will be no 1.8 offered, a revised 2.0-litre Duratec engine pushes power from the current engine’s 96kW to a more competitive 108kW.

In Europe, the 1.6 Ti-VCT and 2.0 Duratec engines will be joined by other 16-valve four-cylinder petrol engines in a 60kW 1.4 and a 75kW 1.6, while 81kW 1.6 and 103kW 2.0-litre versions of C-Max’s common-rail Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engines will also be sold there.

It’s unlikely the 1.6 Duratorq TDCi engine’s exclusive seven-speed ZF Durashift continuously variable transmission will be made available here, but while Focus 1.6 will get a five-speed manual, 2.0-litre versions will be mated to a six-speed Durashift manual. Both will also be available with a four-speed Durashift auto.

New Focus technology includes a keyless unlocking system dubbed the KeyFree System, a Solar Reflect Windshield claimed to block nearly five times the level of solar radiation as standard tinted glass, an Adaptive Front Lighting System that follows the front wheels, wireless Bluetooth Hands Free Phones, Voice Control hands-free command of audio, telephone, climate control, in-car entertainment and navigation systems, plus an MP3-compatible audio system.

Crash tested in the state-of-the-art Volvo Safety Centre in Sweden, the new Focus will offer optional side thorax airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and adjustable pedals, plus seatbelt pretensioners with load-limiting retractors and Isofix child seat fittings.

Luggage capacity has been expanded by 10 per cent over the previous model to 385 litres, with 20 per cent thicker front door side glass and double door seals combining to reduce wind noise by a claimed 20 per cent.

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