The new Ford Focus appears to have been influenced by the design of various competitors. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
The new Ford Focus appears to have been influenced by the design of various competitors. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

Ford has finally released full details of one of its bestselling nameplates, the Focus, which has over the years provided good value for money, technology, efficiency and, more importantly, driver enjoyment usually not found in this segment.

With the new model, Ford says it is aiming to make the car even better than its predecessor by adopting something called a "human-centric" approach that will see the expansion of the model range. This will include the first Focus Active crossover variant, while the upmarket Vignale will also be offered although, like the Focus station wagon, the Vignale is not likely to make it to SA.

The Focus features a Eurocentric inspired design with Volvo-esque headlights, hints of the Hyundai i30 viewed side on and a BMW style C-pillar. These, of course, are not bad attributes — in fact, quite the contrary. According to the company, the design represents a new direction for the model and the team was given free rein.

"Our all-new Ford Focus is the pinnacle of technology and driving appeal in its segment," says Joe Bakaj, vice-president, product development, Ford of Europe. "The chance to build a 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 money can buy."

Built at the company’s Saarlouis plant in Germany, the all-new Focus is the first vehicle globally to be based on Ford’s new C2 platform designed to improve crash performance, deliver more interior space for Ford’s mid-size models without negatively impacting exterior dimensions and support improved aerodynamics for better fuel efficiency.

Variety of engines

The new Focus will also be available in a crossover version. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
The new Focus will also be available in a crossover version. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

The model will be offered with a variety of both petrol and diesel engines although SA is more likely to only get the former and these will, for the first time in a Focus, be paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Trim levels will include the base Trend, the comprehensive Titanium and the sporty ST Line.

Dimensionally, the new model is said to have improved over its forbear in key areas such as knee clearance, which has increased by more than 50mm, while shoulder room has grown by more than 60mm. Boot load height has swelled by 43mm, the length to the rear seat increased by 25mm and with the rear seats folded via the pull of a switch using the new Easy Fold Seats feature the length to the front seats increased by 175mm for 1,650l capacity.

As with previous models, we can also expect a great deal of technology. There are more advanced features than any Ford vehicle before, bringing technologies synonymous with Level 2 automation to a family car. Sophisticated Ford Co-Pilot360 technologies enhance protection, driving and parking, and are designed to make the driving experience more comfortable, less demanding and safer.

The interior gets more space and more tech. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK
The interior gets more space and more tech. Picture: NEWSPRESS UK

Items such as adaptive cruise control (ACC) with stop and go, speed sign recognition and lane-centring helps the car maintain a comfortable driving distance from vehicles ahead, helps reduce stress during long road trips by helping keep it centred in its lane and can adjust the car speed to within legal limits by monitoring the roadside and overhead gantries for speed signs in addition to using information from the onboard navigation system. ACC works at speeds of up to 200km/h.

The new platform has allowed engineers to make the body much stiffer and more rigid than the outgoing model. Torsional rigidity is improved by 20% compared with the previous generation model and the stiffness of individual suspension attachment points has been increased by up to 50%, reducing flex for better body control.

Increased stiffness

The all-new Focus features an innovative method to increase the stiffness of the rear structure, developed for the acclaimed Focus RS model. To achieve this, extruded foam is inserted wet into a rear underbody cavity during the assembly process, which then dries and expands under the heat of the paint-drying process to deliver 10% greater local lateral rigidity with minimal additional weight. All this is said to make the model not only safer, but also one of the most engaging vehicles to drive in the segment, while remaining one of the most compliant, too.

"Focus and a class-leading fun-to-drive experience go hand in hand and we have no intention of letting any competitor steal that crown," says Helmut Reder, global vehicle line director C-car, Ford of Europe. "Our all-new chassis combined with sophisticated technologies deliver the agility and responsiveness of a hot hatchback, with the refined ride of a large executive car."

According to Ford SA, the model will arrive here in the fourth quarter of 2018 when specific models and trim lines and pricing will confirmed.

We are intrigued to find out how the car drives and will relay our reports once we have driven the vehicle at its global launch in France in July.

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