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Official: Ford's next Focus here in August

More beautiful boot: Ford expects its sexier sedan to attract more Focus buyers than before.

New MkIII Focus to arrive in just three months with downsized 1.6-litre engine

2 May 2011

FORD has announced its third-generation Focus will go on sale in Australia in just three months, headlined by a frugal new 1.6-litre petrol engine to open the all-new small-car range.

Now officially confirmed for release here in August, the redesigned Focus will be available from launch in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles, with the choice of four specification levels.

In addition to a new 2.0-litre GDi direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine and upgraded 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel, the 1.6-litre Duratec Ti-VCT petrol four will bring the initial number of new Focus engines to three.

Full details of the local launch range will be announced next month, but GoAuto expects Ford Australia to expand the number of sedan variants it offers in order to capitalise on the more stylish new three-box Focus design.

Sales of the current LVII-series Focus are heavily skewed to the hatch, while the top-selling Mazda3’s hatch/sedan split is closer to 50:50. That is why the MkII Focus sedan range includes just two entry-level petrol versions, while the hatch is available in four model grades (CL, LX, Zetec and TDCi diesel).

However, the addition of a range-topping Titanium variant, which borrows its name from the flagship Mondeo and now Territory, and the availability of diesel power in both hatch and sedan configuration, should result in the widest Focus range for some time.

Ford says the new 1.6-litre engine reduces fuel consumption by more than 15 per cent over the most fuel-efficient 2.0-litre petrol Focus currently offered (7.1L/100km), which equates to about 6.0L/100km.

However, it is not clear which transmission the smaller engine will be matched with, nor which body style it will be available in.

Although the Focus 1.6 is not expected to significantly reduce the current model’s entry-level price of $21,990 – at least not until MkIII Focus production for Australia switches from Saarlouis in Germany to Rayong in Thailand late next year – it will join a growing number of smaller-displacement models in what was once exclusively a 2.0-litre class.

While the 1.6-litre Focus will be Ford’s answer to Hyundai’s 1.6-litre petrol i30 hatch range-opener ($19,590) and Volkswagen’s 1.2-litre Golf 77TSI ($22,990), the new Focus itself will be joined in Australia’s fastest-growing sales segment by facelifted Mazda3, all-new Holden Cruze hatch, new Subaru Impreza and new Citroen C4 models by year’s end, plus new Honda Civic and Opel Astra models next year.

Ford’s 1.6-litre Duratec petrol engine produces 88kW/152Nm in the Thai-sourced Fiesta – just short of the i30 1.6 SX hatch’s 89kW/153Nm, while Toyota’s long-dominant Corolla 1.8 offers 100kW/175Nm and the base Cruze 1.8 makes 104kW/176Nm.

There is no sign of the 1.6-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol four or 1.6-litre TDCi turbo-diesel models now being rolled out across Europe, which also receives a wagon derivative of the gen-three Focus – although Ford has apparently ruled out a three-door Focus this time.

However, as we’ve reported, the new Focus Econetic, which sips a Prius-beating 3.5L/100km and hits Europe early next year, is under consideration for release in Australia, where the fresh Focus range will be topped by the new XR/ST next year, powered by a version of the 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo-four from the Mondeo and, from early next year, Falcon.

27 center imageUnlike Australia’s current manual-only XR5 turbo-five, which already hails from Saarlouis, the remainder of the current Focus range is built in South Africa. Russia will join Germany and the US in building the new Focus in mid-2011, before China and Thailand come on stream in 2012.

Ford had originally planned to build the MkIII Focus in Australia instead of South Africa, which will now produce the Australian-designed Ranger ute that is due on sale here within months of the 2012 Focus.

Like the 2.0 GDi petrol-powered Focus, the Focus 1.6 Duratec will come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, while the 2.0 TDCi diesel will come with a six-speed manual and both direct-injection 2.0-litre engines will be available with Ford’s latest six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission.

The latter is already found in the current Focus TDCi hatch, but will replace the conventional four-speed auto in other models.

As we reported from the global launch in Los Angeles in January, despite increasing in weight at base level by up to 50kg to 1310kg, Ford says the 2.0-litre Focus is the only petrol-powered automatic small car to deliver highway fuel economy of just 40mpg (5.9L/100km) in the US, where peak power is up from 107kW to around 119kW at 6500rpm, while maximum torque increases from 185Nm to about 198Nm.

Ford has also confirmed the new version of the company’s global best-seller will be fitted as standard in Australia with an Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) system – at least on “mid- and high-series models” – and the electronic differential-mimicking Torque Vectoring Control system to reduce front-wheel drive understeer.

As in the US and Europe, Australia’s Focus will be available with hi-tech new features including the Active Park Assist semi-automatic parallel parking system and Adaptive cruise Control with Adjustable Speed Limiting Device (ASLD).

The new Focus is more aerodynamic, with the drag coefficient reduced from 0.32Cd to 0.295Cd, while body stiffness is said to be 30 per cent better than the current car's.

Focus sales are up almost 48 per cent in the first three months of 2011 during run-out, yet the model remains Australia's eighth-best-selling small car with a 5.5 per cent segment share - behind the Mazda3, Corolla, Cruze, i30, Mitsubishi Lancer, Impreza and Golf.

Ford has sold more than 10 million Focus vehicles since the nameplate’s introduction in 1998 and the third-generation model – which replaces the MkII that debuted here in 2005 – will be sold in more than 120 markets.

As the first truly global model to appear from the new ‘One Ford’ product development strategy, the new Focus is to spawn 10 model derivatives that account for two million annual sales by 2012.

“In every world market where Focus competes, customers are looking for expressive design, affordable innovation, superior quality, responsive performance and exceptional fuel economy,” said Ford Australia president and CEO, Bob Graziano.

“In Australia, the all-new Focus presents all these elements in an outstanding package. It will raise the bar in these areas and deliver a new level of standard and available content, enabled by its global scale.

“The new Focus is evidence of One Ford in action, and truly represents the best of Ford Motor Company. Our investment in a new global small-car platform is enabling us to provide consumers in Australia, and around the world, with an affordable range of cars which offer quality, fuel efficiency, safety and smart technology beyond their expectations.

“The launch of the next-generation vehicle marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Focus in Australia.

“The all-new Focus is at the centre of a convergence for automotive trends. It was designed with an acute understanding of global customers yet it’s tailored for each individual region, combining the best from Europe, North America and Asia to deliver a new level of emotional driving enjoyment.

“New Focus offers a desirable combination of dynamic design, outstanding driver appeal, affordable technology, quality craftsmanship and impressive fuel economy, which will not only delight our existing customers but also expand the appeal of the Focus brand to a whole new generation of Ford customers,” he said.

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