All-new Ford Focus previewed ahead of midday reveal

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The new Ford Focus will be revealed at midday today and it has been previewed with a new image showing its front uncovered.

The car will arrive with as a concoction of technology and knowledge gained over the 20 years creating and working on the previous three generations of the car, according to vice president of product development in Europe, Joe Bakaj.

As part of Ford’s global development strategy, the new Focus Mk4 – which was confirmed for its imminent reveal last week – has been developed by the firm’s European-based engineering teams, headed by Bakaj. The project leader has been Ford’s small-car guru, Darren Palmer, whose team engineered recent launches including the new Fiesta, Ka+ and Ecosport.

“Back in 1999, we had the brief to redefine the segment and the new Focus will take every lesson we have learned into one package,” said Bakaj. “The goal is to set the benchmarks in the class for design, packaging, dynamics, efficiency and technology, and I really do believe that is what we’re on course to deliver.”

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The Focus, a rival to the Vauxhall Astra, will be built on Ford’s global C-class platform, which is also shared with the Fiesta. It will be a five-door hatch only; in lieu of a three-door body, Ford is allocating a greater portion of its development funds to making more SUVs, which European president Jim Farley believes are becoming the “preferred family cars”.

The new Focus is unlikely to grow in length or width, but is tipped to have about 50mm more in the wheelbase to match its rivals for rear leg room. It will also deliver weight savings of around 50kg, model for model, although precise figures are still being calculated. Efficiency will be high on the agenda; Ford will undoubtedly improve on the current car’s aerodynamics. It will also launch a new pure electric version as one of a dozen electric cars promised last year by Farley. Additionally, the company has been experimenting with hybrid models, which are already successful in its US line-up, but there are no sure signs yet of a Focus hybrid.

The Focus’s engine range will centre heavily on the successful 1.0-litre Ecoboost three-cylinder petrol engine – available in 99bhp, 123bhp and 138bhp versions – and there are also likely to be 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol units in several power outputs (with up to 275bhp) for the ST-Line and full-fat ST versions. The staple diesel will again be the 1.5 TDCi, although a 2.0-litre diesel may still be offered for ST performance models. Ford is likely, for the time being at least, to stick with its six-speed Powershift twin-clutch gearbox as the European automatic option.

The Focus also looks set to be offered with a plug-in hybrid variant.

Like the Fiesta, the new Focus will be launched in multiple variants to create a staggered line-up arrival. The Focus programme’s similarity to the Fiesta’s is no surprise, since the project is now under the management of Ford’s small-car guru, Darren Palmer, whose team recently delivered the new Fiesta, Ka+ and a dramatically improved Ecosport B-segment SUV.

An estate model will likely be available from launch, as will top-end Vignale models. Later on, Ford will launch a high-riding Focus Active, along the lines of the Fiesta Active, in order to take advantage of burgeoning demand for ‘lifestyle’ cars. There will be several models; base cars will have a regular front-wheel drive system, but there is likely to be a four-wheel drive option utilising hardware from the existing Kuga SUV.

An ST-Line which offers the looks of Ford’s faster cars without the outright performance will also arrive in the future, before a proper ST model and hardcore RS variant. The latter is due with a hybrid powertrain.

Although the RS will be the most driver-focused, all variants will be engineered with a clear focus to stand out as  good handling cars. Bakaj said that “The goal on dynamics has been clear: to put us firmly and clearly back in the number one spot. The refinement is improved again.

He added that “the car will be characterised by efficiency, be it of the packaging or fuel economy”, supporting earlier information provided to Autocar that the new Focus will be more carefully packaged than ever to offer enhanced passenger space in key areas, even though it is no bigger externally.

“[Cabin] technology will be best-in class,” added Bakaj. “The styling will give the car a unique personality. It’s an incredible all-rounder.”

As shown by spy pictures, the interior will be simpler and more stylish; the company’s designers privately having previously admitted that they “over-delivered” on dashboard complexity in the previous Fiesta and Focus. The fascia, in particular, will be simpler and less cluttered, with more functions activated via a prominent central touchscreen.

Additional reporting by Steve Cropley

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