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Obsessive kilo culling would dilute Focus’ progress: Ford

Weighty issue: Ford focused on other areas over weight loss for its latest Focus.

Ford aimed for class-best handling, ride, refinement over major Focus weight loss

30 Jul 2018

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in FRANCE

FORD has dismissed criticism that the latest Focus is not light enough for an all-new platform architecture and ground-up redesign, and is instead citing big strides forward in other areas.
 
According to Ford C2 Architecture senior manager, Michael Blischke, the advancements made in vehicle dynamics, ride comfort, refinement, safety and standard features are more important to customers than simply building a lighter car.
 
“It’s all about trade-off… and it depends on how you look at it,”  Mr Blischke told GoAuto at the launch of the Focus in France earlier this month.
 
“If you look at it from a chassis point of view, a suspension system point of view or a body-in-white point of view, I believe that we are world class and the best in segment, with the attributes that I have just mentioned. 
 
“You cannot just simply develop a light vehicle and think it is going to perform like our vehicle is performing. You can take out a lot more weight, but you know you will get a lot more feedback in your seat systems, for example.” 
 
Mr Blischke added that his team thought long and hard about where to draw the line between achieving low weight versus a high dynamic benchmark.
 
“It is a factor of ‘where do you want the vehicle to be’. And we have had so many deep dives on weights. There is no component basically which we hadn’t looked upon and said: ‘OK, why can’t we deliver this particular weight?’ 
 
“Take the air tack system (as part of) the cooling system: it is among the best in the entire industry – I can give you one example where another car-maker’s system is as good as ours, but the rest are not. We asked ourselves ‘do we really need to be as good as we are?’ And we talked about it, and the answer is yes. And that comes with more and more size in the body (that adds weight).”
 
As a result of balancing lightweight engineering and dynamic improvements, Mr Blischeke believes that the 88kg average cut over the previous Focus equivalents was still a minor miracle, and the result of painstaking work. 
 
Particularly given the new Focus is larger, wider, roomier, stronger, more rigid and quieter, with more standard equipment, greater safety including extra driver-assist systems, an overhauled multimedia system, and new light technologies.
 
“Oh, my goodness, don’t you think 88kg taken out of the vehicle, I think that speaks for itself,” he said. 
 
Weighing in at just over 1400kg (kerb, EU figures), the Focus hatch with the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine and eight-speed automatic transmission tips the scales at over 200kg more than the Peugeot 308 PureTech 130 auto, at least 100kg more than the Volkswagen Golf 1.4-litre TSI DSG equivalent and around 70kg over that of a existing Mazda3 2.0-litre auto hatch.
 
Opting for the cheaper torsion beam rear suspension saves 10kg over the multi-link independent system.

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