Fleet News

Ford reveals the face of new Focus

THIS is the new face of the car that Ford hopes will retain its position as the number one on fleet lists in the UK.

It will need to maintain its position as the benchmark for driving quality, but Ford has also vowed to set new standards in a host of other areas.

The current Focus has spent 50 consecutive months at the top of the UK sales charts and it is almost a permanent fixture at the top of the fleet sales charts.

With four million sales worldwide since its launch, the new Focus will have much to live up to.

It will go on sale in mainland Europe before the end of the year, with UK sales starting on January 1, 2005. The Focus ‘family’ will include three-door and five-door hatchback models from its launch as well as an estate, and embraces the Focus C-MAX launched last year. A four-door saloon will be added to the range during 2005.

Design

Larger dimensions and broader shoulders

BOTH three-door and five-door models share the same profile and despite its low appearance, both rear headroom and luggage capacity have been increased.

With larger dimensions the broad-shouldered stance of the new Focus is accentuated by flared wheel arches and a bonnet ‘power bulge’, although the latter is more likely to have been designed with pedestrian crash tests in mind. Moving the A-pillar forward by 100mm in a steeper angle is said to improve interior space and help crash protection.

All models will have an integrated rear roof spoiler while the tailgate is both wider and deeper to make loading bulky items easier.

The interior has been designed to make occupants sense that the car is wrapped around them and everything they want is where they expect to find it.

Much of the interior is similar to the Focus C-MAX in terms of design and quality. Designers have sought to ensure that all the switches should have the same sound, feel and manoeuvrability, while the rotary switches maintain an identical feel whether they are used for mechanical or electrical uses.

Optional power-adjustable pedals ensure drivers feel fully confident behind the wheel and enhance comfort.

Features new to the Focus include a KeyFree System which unlocks the car hands free, a solar reflect windscreen, adaptive headlights, Blue Tooth compatibility and voice control for audio, telephone, climate, audio and satellite navigation systems.

There is also a rear-seat entertainment function with an MP3 independent audio system , while the estate will be offered with a high-mounted screen for DVD or games consoles.

The Focus also gains the option of the Sony audio systems introduced in the Mondeo and Focus C-MAX last year. The new model retains one trademark of the original Focus – the bonnet release activated by a lock behind the Ford badge on the radiator grille.

However, it has ditched another – the interior boot release button has gone in favour of a soft switch pad on the tailgate.

Driving quality

FORD wanted the new Focus to build on the class-leading dynamics of the original while making significant improvements to comfort and refinement, including reduced noise, enhanced sound quality and a roomier cabin.

The body structure of the new car is 10% stiffer than the existing model and helps reduce noise levels by 20%, along with double-sealed doors and 20% thicker side glass. To ensure the new Focus was launched with best in class driver appeal, engineers studied its main rivals.

Jurgen Putzschler, supervisor for vehicle dynamics, said: ‘To establish a benchmark for best-in-class agility, precision, comfort and stability, we evaluated the strongest ride and handling characteristics of the competitors. It quickly became clear that the best benchmark was the current Focus.’

The car has a longer wheelbase and wider track than before to improve both stability and ride quality while suspension enhancements developed for the discontinued Focus RS have been introduced to ensure initial roll movements are better controlled.

New 16-inch Sport and Ghia design wheels look like alloy wheels but are made from steel with optimal brake cooling properties as well as durability, resistance to damage and easier maintenance.

The car uses the electro-hydraulic power steering system (EHPAS) which made its debut in the Focus C-MAX. It offers a fuel saving over a fully hydraulic system, while maintaining more feedback and feel than a fully electric set-up.

Andreas Wohler, manager of vehicle dynamics, said: ‘Increasingly manufacturers are replacing straight hydraulic systems – with the benefits of precision and feel that it brings – with straight electric power steering that removes low-speed steering input.

‘Rather than compromising in any way, we took the more expensive – but ultimately the most satisfying – approach of developing a hybrid system in EHPAS that has cut low speed steering efforts while retaining the Focus DNA of agile and precise steering at high speed.’

Powertrains

THE new Focus will have two all-new common rail diesel engines as well as a new petrol engine with variable camshaft timing.

The range starts with a 79bhp 1.4-litre and steps up to a 99bhp 1.6-litre, while a new 1.6 engine fills a position once held by the 1.8-litre in the current Focus.

With 113bhp and 111lb-ft of torque the 1.6 Ti-VCT has better fuel consumption and lower carbon dioxide emission figures than both the less powerful petrol engines.

Meanwhile, Ford is also claiming class-leading fuel consumption from its 1.6-litre TDCi engine. Although the common rail diesel is used in other products as a development in the Ford-PSA diesel engine partnership, the new Focus claimed the best fuel consumption figure on the combined cycle at 58.9mpg and with CO2 emissions of 127g/km.

Both diesel engines can achieve Euro IV emissions requirements when fitted with a particulate filter for relevant markets. As the Focus C-MAX already has a Euro IV option, it is likely that the UK will have Euro IV variants of the new diesel Focus.

The top petrol engine initially will be a 143bhp 2.0-litre unit, while the high output diesel is a 134bhp 2.0 TDCi. There is no word on a high-performance version to replace the current Focus ST170 yet, but Ford is likely to show this car for the first time at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show.

The 99bhp 1.6-litre is available with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the 1.6 TDCi will be offered with a CVT automatic, which still promises more than 50mpg on the combined cycle.

Ford Focus fact file

1.4 1.6 1.6 Ti-VCT 2.0 1.6 TDCi 2.0 TDCi
Engine (cc): 1,388 1,596 1,596 1,999 1,560 1,997
Max power (bhp/rpm): 79/5,700 99/5,500 113/6,000 143/6,000 107/4,000 134/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 91/3,500 111/4,000 114/4,150 136/4,500 177/1,750 136/2,000
Max speed (mph): 101 111 (auto: 106) 117 127 116 (113) 125
0-62mph (sec): 14.1 11.9 (13.6) 10.8 9.2 10.9 (11.5) 9.3
Fuel consumption (mpg): 42.7 42.2 (36.9) 43.8 39.8 58.9 (51.0) 51.4
CO2 emissions (g/km): 159 161 (180) 155 170 127 (146) 148
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 55/12.1
Transmissions: 5-sp man; 6-sp man; 4-sp auto (1.6); CVT auto (1.6 TDCi)
On sale: Early 2005
Prices (estimated): £11,000-£18,000

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