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Tech updates for Ford's Focus and Fiesta ST

Price rise: The popular Ford Fiesta ST gains tech upgrades and the price also increases by $1500.

Next-gen Sync3 and broader driver-assist tech availability for Ford small cars


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8 Apr 2016

UPDATED: 11/04/2016 FORD will release a number of technology upgrades for its struggling Focus range, as well as a better-equipped but $1500 more expensive version of the lauded Fiesta ST hot hatch, in the coming months.

To be rolled out from July, the Focus will be the first Ford in Australia to feature the company’s next-generation voice-recognition multimedia platform, Sync3. It promises to be faster to react, more intuitive, better looking and more smartphone-like in its operation and user interface.

While there are no visual or standard equipment changes otherwise, the move to offer a wider range of driver-assist safety features for the first time is to boost the ageing small car’s appeal to the private and user-chooser market that Ford says it is now concentrating on with the LZ-series Focus.

According to Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman the goal is to ultimately foster the same sort of brand loyalty and repeat purchasing behaviour enjoyed by rival companies such as Mazda.

“We are investing heavily to offer a line-up of innovative vehicles with outstanding fuel-efficiency, safety and quality – including for Fiesta and Focus,” he said.

“We are also increasing our mix of retail sales by offering more of this value to customers, improving their experience today while giving them more reasons to come back to us tomorrow.” Previously only available on the range-topping Focus Titanium, the latest version of the Technology Pack is now a $2000 option on the entry-level Trend and racy Sport variants, bringing with it Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Departure Warning, Driver Impairment Monitor (that scans tired faces and sounds an alarm if needed), Adaptive Cruise Control, Active City Stop (or AEB Autonomous Emergency Braking), Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Auto High Beam Control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Since the existing Titanium spec already featured the last four items, the Technology Pack price drops to $1500 on the Focus luxury flagship.

The Focus Sport and Titanium will now also offer a Sports Executive Pack as an $1800 option, ushering in a sunroof and bi-Xenon high-intensity discharge headlights with static cornering capability.

The Fiesta ST, meanwhile, will jump $1500 to $27,490 plus on-road costs when it surfaces in September from Germany, but snares a larger 5.5-inch TFT central screen with satellite navigation and a reversing camera, as well as illuminated scuff plates, body-coloured alloy wheels and red-painted brake callipers.

Unfortunately for Ford, and despite a healthy 13.7 per cent rise in overall volume year-to-date, Focus sales are withering even though widespread improvements were introduced last August with the LZ facelift, sliding by an alarming 46.4 per cent to just 1401 registrations for the first three months of this 2016.

It is unclear whether the decision to stop chasing the fleet market by dropping the base circa-$20,000 Ambiente may play a part, but Ford maintains that it is more interested in building the long-term reputation and profitability of the brand in the private or user-chooser markets.

Fiesta sales are also down, by more than 46 per cent, to 791 units to the end of March, although an all-new replacement is not too far away.

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