Watch out VW Golf: this is the new Ford Focus that’s been unveiled by Ford ahead of the 2014 Geneva motor show. Gone is the bluff, snouty front end of the current car and in its place are sleeker, narrower front and rear lights, a new bonnet, bumpers and a new grille. Yet it lacks the awkward, guppy-like stance of the Fiesta, which was given its new Aston Martin-esque grille in late 2012, and is a much more sophisticated looking car. Unlike the recent Renault Megane facelift, this facelift is a marked improvement and there’s a host of technical changes, too.
>> Read CAR’s review of the facelifted Renault Megane here
What about inside?
Welcome to the first Focus with shiftpaddles. One of the biggest oversights in the current Focus when pitted against rivals, insiders blamed US customer lack of demand for them when the Focus was being developed. Yet market research ain’t always right…
The other good news: there are far fewer buttons. The current rotary-knob and the plethora of buttons have been ditched for a smart new eight-inch touchscreen and sleeker, simplified centre stack. The good news is this design will filter across the Ford range and should make it easier to operate the new Sync 2 – the new Focus being the first Ford to offer the new system.
Compared to the original iteration, Sync 2 extends its nav capabilities, with a new split-screen display, 3D graphics and ‘one shot’ instructions. Ford says that you can say ‘I’m hungry’, and Sync 2 will conveniently feed you (sorry) a list of nearby restaurants and eateries. So it’ll think for you: who knows what it’ll come back with when you say ‘lobotomy’.
Is it bigger?
No – this is, of course, only a facelift of the current car, but the cabin does have some minor packaging improvements. The redesigned centre stack, complete with its VW-like ‘garage door’ sliding cover, can hold larger bottles, while there’s thick carpet, glass are more noise insulation aiming to improve refinement.
You mentioned new engines?
That’s right – there’s a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, that will be available in both 148bhp and 178bhp tunes. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine has also been improved, with up 17 per cent better economy, says Ford, while claiming that it’s the first non-hybrid petrol model on sale to dip below 99g/km. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost will also be sold with an automatic transmission for the first time.
In 2015, the Focus will be available with a 118bhp version of the 1.5-litre diesel, which will also be offered with an automatic. Ford says it’s this model that offers 19 per cent better economy than the ‘equivalent-powered current Focus’, which means around 68.7mpg. Expect a lower C02 than the current best of 89g/km as well.
Any other mechanical changes?
The Focus now has a stiffer front end, with revised suspension geometry and damping, and a recalibrated ESP set-up. The electric power steering has also been retuned for more feel and precision, says Ford. Lets hope that helps the ride quality, which especially on larger wheels, can’t match its competition (and that horrendous turning circle…). Bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps will be offered for the first time, too, as an option.
What about the Focus ST?
Those paddleshifters will be a boon for the ST, which will be stiffer, have the recalibrated steering and ESP systems, as well as the svelte new look. Yet Ford is not revealing the details of its high performance Focus yet, which should have more power than its current 247bhp, too, in the wake of the Renaultsport Megane 265 and the 276bhp Seat Leon Cupra.
>> Read CAR’s first drive of the 2014 Seat Leon Cupra 280
The current gen Focus brought its reverse parking system, called Active Park Assist, in 2011. Yet the new Focus can do more: it can park itself, hands free, side-by-side with other cars. The extra sensors needed to enable this also imbue the Focus with Cross Traffic Alerts, which warn drivers reversing out of a parking spot of oncoming traffic, and Park-Out Assist, which does basically the same thing when you’re nosing out of a parking spot.
Ford has also worked on its electronic safety suite, with Pre-Collision Assist offered for the first time, which can brake the vehicle at high speeds – on a motorway, for instance – if it detects danger ahead. It’s Active City Stop, which works at up to 19mph in the current car, will operate at up to 31mph in the new model.
Is it going to cost more?
Ford hasn’t announced spec or pricing, but in the cutthroat C-segment, it’s unlikely to move much from its current £14-£33k range when it arrives later this year. The Focus is Ford’s biggest seller and is sold in 140 markets globally. One is built every 90 seconds in Europe, so if it messes up this car, it won’t take long to make headlines. On paper though, the new Focus looks more attractive and promises to be better behind the wheel. Stay tuned for our first drive.
>> How successful is the new Ford Focus’ styling? Tell us in the comments below