Cologne, Germany - Ford’s all-new Focus was unveiled on Tuesday as the most refined and technically-advanced incarnation of a car that has so far sold more than 16 million units around the world.
Twenty years on from the first-generation Focus launched in 1998, the latest version is larger, larnier, and crammed with high tech that includes fully automatic self-parking, evasive steering assist, active suspension, and adaptive front lights that can read road signs.
The evasive steering assist is a segment-first feature that helps drivers steer around stopped or slower vehicles to help avoid collisions, and it’s part of a suite of safety kit on the new Focus that includes adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist to help negotiate stop-start traffic.
But for drivers who detest parallel parking, the handiest new feature will be Active Park Assist 2 which operates not just the steering but also the gears, throttle and braking to enable fully-automated parking at the push of a button. The car’s also able to drive itself out of the parking space afterwards.
The car’s night vision takes a big step forward with an adaptive front lighting system that dims for oncoming traffic and also uses a camera-based predictive curve light that pre-adjusts by monitoring bends in the road and – for the first time in the industry – also road signs.
The Focus introduces Ford’s first Head-up display (HUD) to be offered in Europe, and notably it can be read by users wearing polarised lenses.
Apart from all the high tech, the new Focus has grown into a roomier, more refined and more comfortable car, boasting an interior with higher quality materials and craftsmanship.
On a wheelbase stretched by 53mm, rear knee room is now 50mm better and said to be the best in class, while shoulder room is also increased by almost 60mm from the outgoing Focus.
The interior delivers a simplified and less cluttered design with improved perceived quality. A narrower centre console – enabled by relocating switches and controls to the touchscreen – features soft knee pads for more comfort.
Unveiled in five-door hatchback, wagon, and in selected markets four-door body styles, Ford’s midsized family car is offered in a selection of trim grades including Trend, Titanium, the sporty Focus ST-Line, the upscale Focus Vignale, and the first Focus Active crossover. The Vignale is spruced up with satin aluminium finishes and a signature grille mesh, while the Active has an elevated ground clearance and protective black wheel arch claddings with front and rear skid plates.
Each trim grade gets its own distinct look and materials, including fine-grain wood-effect finishes and premium leather for Vignale; sporty carbon fibre-effect finishes and red stitching for the ST-Line; and more rugged textured materials for the Active.
Ford’s Sync 3 system takes care of the infotainment via voice commands or a 20cm colour touchscreen that can be pinched and swiped like a smartphone, while smartphones can be wirelessly charged on an inductive pad.
The upper models get a new B&O PLAY 675 watt sound system with a subwoofer.
Styling-wise the most visible change on the new Focus is its enlarged hexagonal grille, which now sits between headlamps placed more outboard to enhance width. The longer wheelbase, combined with shorter overhangs and a rearward cabin position, also make for a more ‘planted’ and dynamic stance.
The tail lights are now two-piece, allowing for a more versatile deck-lid opening, while LED lighting provides distinctly recognisable signatures in daylight and darkness.
It’s not yet know which versions will be coming to South Africa, but overseas powertrain options include a pair of three-cylinder petrol engines: Ford’s trusty 1.0-litre EcoBoost and a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost, both featuring fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology which is an industry first for three-cylinder engines.
The 1.0-litre turbo is offered in 62kW, 75kW and 92kW varieties, with the 1.5-litre turbo available in 110kW and 134kW grades.
The turbo diesel offerings are a 1.5-litre EcoBlue in 70kW and 88kW versions, and a 2.0-litre EcoBlue mustering 110kW.
Ford claims ten percent fuel and C02 emissions savings across the board.
Power is fed to the front wheels by a choice of a six-speed manual transmission, or a new intelligent eight-speed automatic that adapts its shift patterns to driving style and is controlled via a new rotary gear shift dial.
To build on its well-established reputation for keen ride and handling, the car’s torsional rigidity is improved by 20% compared with the previous generation Focus, and the stiffness of individual suspension attachment points is increased by up to 50%, reducing flex for better body control.
An isolated rear subframe with short long arm (SLA) independent rear suspension optimises both ride comfort and the vehicle’s responses to driver inputs. Separating the sub-frame from the body structure better isolates smaller bumps and improves noise, vibration and harshness.
On the upper models, ride quality is further enhanced by Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) for the independent front and rear suspension, which adjusts suspension stiffness according to suspension, body, steering and braking inputs.
A feature of the CCD that will be appreciated on South African roads is its ability to reduce the impact of driving through potholes. By detecting the edge of a pothole and adjusting the damper so that the wheel doesn’t fall as far into it, the wheel strikes the opposite side of the pothole less harshly.
The new Focus can be set to Normal, Sport and Eco drive modes which adjust the throttle, steering and auto gearbox responses to the driving situation, and also the suspension firmness on cars equipped with CCD.
There is no word yet as to when the new Ford Focus will be coming to South Africa.