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Chinese needs drove Ford Focus design direction

Focus on me: The Chinese market is vital to the Focus’ sales success, meaning Ford decided to ditch the hatch’s signature ‘six-light’ window to cater towards its requirements.

Common doors on sedan, hatch eliminate iconic Ford Focus six-window profile

Ford logo27 Jul 2018

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in FRANCE

FORD has revealed that Chinese-market rear-seat requirements helped shape the latest Focus small car, with the hatch losing its trademark ‘six-light’ window in the C-pillar treatment as per all generations launched since the original model in 1998.
 
Speaking to the Australian media at the launch of the fourth-generation Focus in France last week, Ford of Europe exterior design manager Jordan Demkiw said that a wider rear-door aperture was deemed necessary to help ingress and egress – a factor that can make or break a car’s success in the vital Chinese market.
 
“At the start we had a six-light proposal, and it went back and forth… and with China being such a focus on Focus (we went with the extra-wide door instead) … we had to use common doors (between sedan and hatch),” he said.
 
“And that was quite difficult, when you do a DLO (daylight opening, or glasshouse) for a five-door, it is at a faster (rake) than the four-door, which tends to be quite formal. Conversely, if you do it for a sedan first, the result can look too upright for a five-door.”
 
As a result, and for the first time, all three body styles – hatch, sedan and wagon – share the same doors, bringing uniformity to the design but also saving considerable amounts of money – a linchpin of moving forward with all internal-combustion-engined vehicles in the C2 architecture , which makes its debut beneath the C519 Focus.
 
The chief engineer of the C2 architecture, Michael Blischeke, said that meeting global cabin space needs was critical in this generation’s development.
 
“It was an ‘inside out’ development for Ford Focus,” he said. “That is the advantage of a clean sheet of paper, it is all-new from the ground up. So we took a human-centric design initiative and benchmarked numbers, particularly rear seat knee and shoulder space, and thus placed components around that.
 
“We basically positioned mannequins in the rear seat to ascertain the maximum legroom and knee room we needed to be best-in-class, and then we put the components, the seats and wrapped around the sheet metal.”

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