All Focus will be on Ford’s new family car
It is probably the single most important new car to be launched this year and for Ford the arrival in Ireland next month of the new Focus range is a welcome opportunity to reclaim what the company would see as lost ground to rivals such as VW, Toyota and Hyundai.
With Ford’s sales figures down some 7.9% year-on-year, the arrival of a new Focus, which delivers more style, space and advanced driving technologies than ever before, is going to be a massive shot in the arm for the Blue Oval — not just in Ireland, but globally too.
With prices starting from €24,900 when the car goes on sale here next month, stalwart customers — of whom there are very many — will undoubtedly be very anxious to get their hands on the fourth generation of a car which has been at the top of its market segment since we first saw one in 1998.
Focus, of course, revolutionised the mid-sized family car market when it first came out and the aim of the new car is to keep its nose ahead of the competing posse with such goodies as a comprehensive range of advanced driving technologies.
It goes without saying that the characteristics which stood the Focus out from the outset — independent all round suspension, ultra-nimble handling, roominess and practicality — are all still part of the package.
Ford says its engineers collaborated closely with car-buyers to develop the all-new Focus five-door hatchback and even more practical Focus wagon models in distinctive versions, each with their own personality — including the stylish Focus Titanium, sporty Focus ST-Line and upscale Focus Vignale.
An all-new Focus Active crossover model, arriving here early in 2019, features rugged sports utility vehicle-inspired styling that includes raised ride-height, roof bars and additional cladding to give Ford a presence in a growing market niche.
Speaking at the launch in France this week, Joe Bakaj, Ford Europe’s vice-president of product development, made the lofty pledge that the new Focus is the pinnacle of technology and driving appeal in its segment.
“The chance to build a completely new car from a fresh piece of paper does not come around often. We grabbed it with both hands, to develop the best mid-size family car that money can buy,” Bakaj commented.
And what of the new car itself? Well, it has the most aerodynamic silhouette in its class.
The new shape is athletic and dynamic with a long bonnet and muscular rear haunches and each model is differentiated with unique elements including satin aluminium details for the Vignale exterior; large spoiler and open front apertures for the ST-Line; and, contrast silver front and rear skid plates for the Active.
Inside, simple, clean lines are the order of the day and Ford has also ramped up the appeal with soft touch materials aimed at delivering a more premium feel.
High-end consumer product design is reflected with polished glass and brushed finishes. Unique features and materials include 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 and surfaces for the Active.
The new car also provides more space inside for passengers and luggage.
More than 5cm additional length between the front and rear wheels allows class-leading knee clearance for rear seat passengers, and occupants benefit from the wider interior — there’s 6cm more shoulder room in the rear.
The impression of spaciousness is enhanced with a rear door design featuring windows that stretch further back for a more open sensation, and an openable panoramic roof that lets light flood in.
With the wagon model, access to the boot space is easy, using a simple kicking motion under the rear bumper to open the hands-free tailgate.
On the tech front the new Focus will boast many new advanced driver assistance technologies make driving it easier and are also designed to make the driving experience more comfortable, less demanding and safer.
Stuff like adaptive cruise control, stop and go, sign recognition, lane-centring will be available, as will adaptive front lights (which also have Ford’s predictive light curve and sign-based light technologies) with a glare free high beam, while a head-up display system will also be offered. The safety systems are also many and varied.
The engines available will include Ford’s multi-award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine 125 PS — further enhanced to deliver from 4.8 l/100 km fuel efficiency and 108 g/km CO2, while Ford’s new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel 120 PS engine will deliver from 3.6 l/100 km fuel efficiency and 94 g/km CO2.
There will also be a choice of a manual six-speed transmission or a new eight-speed automatic.
The new range is also better connected and individual vehicles can be transformed into a mobile WiFi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices.
A new wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones is also part of the package as is Ford’s impressive SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and also allows drivers to control audio, navigation and climate functions plus connected smartphones.
More complete pricing detail will be issued when the car arrives in Ireland, but for now be assured that Ford is right back in the game with this car and its competitors will certainly be looking over their collective shoulders.
Ford Focus: the breakdown
Engines 1-litre 125bhp petrol or 1.5-litre 120bhp diesel
Prices From €24,900
Arriving Aug 2018 (Active versions will come next year)
Review reproduced courtesy of Declan Colley, Irish Examiner