New Ford Focus is here
The Focus is changing at Ford. Auto Express can exclusively reveal that Britain’s favourite car is set for a dramatic mid-life makeover.
By Chris Thorp 20th June 2007
The family hatchback’s new look has been penned by Martin Smith – the man behind the latest Mondeo and the S-Max people carrier. His mission has been to inject some excitement into the conservative current design, and as our pictures show, Ford fans should have plenty to look forward to.
Unlike the recently revised C-MAX, which simply featured a new front end and a number of tweaks at the rear, the fresh Focus is tipped to benefit from a thorough revamp with many new body panels. Significant improvements are expected inside, with upgraded materials and a more advanced cabin control system – similar to the Human Machine Interface (HMI) which debuted in the Mondeo.
Following its unveiling in left-hand-drive form in September – possibly at the Frank­furt Motor Show – the UK-specification Focus will arrive on main dealer forecourts here before the end of the year.
The compact family Ford aims to fight off the challenge of fresh competition in the shape of the Nissan Qashqai and revised Vauxhall Astra. By committing to a more radical look, designers will try to make the newcomer appeal to a younger audience than the out­going model. With many of its styling cues borrowed from the latest Mondeo and new S-MAX, the Focus’s design is set to turn heads both from the front and rear.
Inside, the newcomer will capitalise on the strengths of Ford’s latest cabin layouts. Practical touches are set to be adopted from the C-MAX in an attempt to give the car even greater versatility.
As we previously reported, plans for a hot RS version of the current Focus have been shelved, but a successor to the potent ST is sure to feature in the future. While there has been no official word on the pro­gress of the RS project, it’s thought the appeal of such a model still burns brightly within Ford – although it’s unlikely that the high-performance flagship will appear in showrooms before 2009.
What is clear is that the revised Focus will herald a period of unprecedented new launches from the brand. Along with the X-MAX compact SUV, Ford will take the wraps off its next-generation Ka and new Fiesta – all within 18 months.
The success of the Focus range is at the heart of this new product plan, and reveals exactly why Ford has taken the decision to facelift the model now.
Expect the line-up to mirror the existing range of three, four and five-door hatches, plus the estate and coupé-cabriolet. Prices have still to be confirmed, but it’s thought they will rise only slightly to keep the car competitive with the likes of the Astra and Volkswagen Golf.
...As current diesel goes out with a bang!
While the revised Focus is around the corner, Ford has just pulled the covers off a new sporty version of the current model that blends ST looks and diesel economy.
Unveiled at the Barcelona Motor Show, this is the WRC-S special edition. Devilish marketing bosses have limited numbers to 666, while every example is signed by Ford rally star Marcus Gronholm. A plaque inside gives each model a unique touch.
Power comes from a standard 2.0-litre four-cylinder 134bhp engine. But WRC and chequered flag decals make the special look like a rally car for the road. The bad news for hot hatch fans is that this Focus will be available only to Spanish buyers. While other European countries will offer similar models, UK bosses have chosen not to bring the ST-styled diesel here.