The new Ford Focus is about to become a common sight on UK roads, especially in diesel form. David Vivian takes a closer look at the 1.6.
Ford has habitually updated its hugely popular family hatch by grafting on a new nose to freshen its design. And with 10 million sales logged since it was launched in 1998, the conservative approach has clearly paid dividends. But this time the revamp is rather more radical. In fact, this third generation Focus is all-new from the ground up and, although it builds on the model’s traditional strengths, its ambition is more far-reaching - not just to better its quality rivals at the things they do best, but also to shift the very perception of the family hatch up market.
The Ford Focus has always been regarded as a sensible set of wheels with the added bonus of being rather good to drive . But while that may once have been enough to ensure its continued success, expectations in the family hatch sector have risen sharply in recent years with plenty to distract us from the Ford’s practical attributes. Better looking and equipped rivals with higher tech engines that deliver stronger economy with lower emissions have dampened the appeal the Focus’s solid baseline virtues. Little wonder, then, that Ford decided to dust off the drawing board and ring the changes.
They’re more far reaching than they may at first seem. Where the previous Focus was built to cater mainly for European tastes, the new car, according to Ford, is a truly global product. Up to 80% of its components will be common to cars in all 120 markets it will be sold in globally, and it will be build in six factories. Its platform will eventually be used for 10 different variants, of which the Ford C-Max and Grand C-Max are already on sale. An understandable fear is that with the same Focus being sold in markets as different as America and China it will necessarily be a blander, catch-all product. But Ford says this isn’t the case and argues that the economies of scale involved enable the Focus to arrive better equipped and with a range of new technologies.