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First drive: Focus reformulated
Sub $20,000 pricing, more features and new variants boost Ford’s small-car combatant
9 Jul 2007
FORD is trumping the $20,990 Toyota Corolla Ascent and Holden Astra CD with $19,990 pricing for the new, entry-level, LT series Focus CL.
This opening gambit, which includes the previously optional ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, as well as dual front airbags and air-conditioning, is $1000 under the outgoing Focus CL.
Ford says that other LT Focus models – barring the XR5 Turbo – are up to $1500 cheaper than their equivalent LS predecessors.
On sale at the end of July, the LT Focus also introduces the availability of DSC stability control with traction control and EBA Emergency Brake Assist, and curtain airbags.
Previously the sole domain of the XR5 Turbo, these items are now also standard on the Zetec and Ghia, and optional on all other models.
Everything except for the CL also gains front side airbags.
Ford has also added three new model variants to the LT Focus line-up.
The luxury Ghia now comes as a five-door hatch as well as a sedan, and vice-versa for the previously hatch-only Zetec.
And the Focus hatch gains a diesel powerplant – Ford’s first for an Australian-market passenger car.
Dubbed TDCi, it is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel unit co-developed with PSA Peugeot Citroen.
Only available as a six-speed manual for now, the Focus TDCi develops 100kW of power at 4000rpm and 320Nm of torque at 2000rpm, and can deliver 5.6L/100km fuel consumption.
Ford is equipping the TDCi to LX hatchback specification. Priced at $27,990, going diesel therefore adds $4000 to the price.
Rounding out the refettled Focus range is a special ‘half-price’ offer for the varying ‘Safety Packs.’Valid until 30 September 2007, it saves between $200 and $800, depending on which model is purchased.
From October 1, the Safety Pack will set buyers back $400 on Ghia and Zetec (curtain airbags only), $1300 on LX and TDCi (curtain airbags and DSC with traction control and EBA) and $1600 on CL (front side and curtain airbags and DSC with traction control and EBA).
Ford says the half-price Safety Pack promotion is designed to stimulate consumer awareness as well as sales of the safety items.
Visually, it will take a trained eye to pick the new Focus from the old.
Changes include a redesigned front bumper with larger air intakes, repositioned side repeater lamps in otherwise identically sized exterior mirrors, restyled alloy wheel designs on the Zetec and Ghia, and the deletion of body side mouldings.
Inside, there is a new-look audio unit, different instrument lighting on some models and a flip-out key fob.
Mechanically, all petrol-powered LT Focus models stick with the 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder Duratec unit that is also seen in altered form in the Mazda 3.
Outputs on 95 RON premium unleaded petrol are 107kW at 6000rpm and 185Nm 4500rpm, with 90 per cent of the latter occurring at 2000rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 7.1L/100km (auto: 8.0L/100km).
Performance drops slightly on regular 91 RON while it rises with 98 RON.
Gearbox choices for petrol models are a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission with a sequential-shift function.
A strong Australian dollar, combined with Ford’s newfound negotiation skills that has seen the Fiesta XR4 hot hatch slip in at thousands of dollars below expectations, are behind the LT Focus’s lower price points.
“We’ve passed the savings on to the customer,” said Don Pearce, Director of product and business planning for Ford Australia.
All models except for the XR5 Turbo are sourced from South Africa.
Another Ford spokesperson told GoAuto that the Durbin plant that manufactures the Focus was not geared up to install DSC and curtain airbags until now, and only does so on Ford Australia’s insistence.
Interestingly, the previous-generation European-built LR Focus, launched in Australia during 2002, offered DSC – or VSC as it was then known – as an option.
Its customer uptake was said to be less than three per cent of all sales, prompting Ford to drop the option when the current-generation LS Focus arrived in July 2005.
Ford is counting on at least 2000 Focus sales per month, with the TDCi accounting for about 10 per cent.
It hopes to sell around 20,000 Focuses in 2007, with the newly-enhanced CL expected to be the biggest-selling model.
Year-to-year volume is up 63 per cent for the Ford small-car entry.
Focus activity takes a new turn late in the year with the arrival of the Coupe-Cabriolet four-seater retractable hardtop convertible, to take on the Astra TwinTop and Volkswagen Eos drop-tops.
Read more:First drive: Diesel's most sporting Focus
Read GoAuto's drive impressions of the Ford Focus TDCi
Read news and reviews of the Ford Focus TDCi
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