DEARBORN, Michigan — One of the more obvious changes that Alan Mulally has made as CEO of the Ford Motor Company is having core products routinely updated and improved. This may seem like common sense, but it didn’t happen all that often at pre-2007 Ford. Now it is the time for an update to Ford’s very popular global compact, the Focus, and so a new Focus sedan debuts at the New York International Auto Show on the heels of the Focus hatchback’s premier at Geneva in March.
Ford would rather use the adjective “new” than “facelift” to describe the 2015 Focus, and the updates do go beyond the new hood, prominent Aston-esque grille replacing the current model’s upper and lower front fascia, new taillamps, new trunk lid, and LEDs in the head- and taillamps to include some chassis tweaks. While Ford product chief Raj Nair stopped short of saying the platform is new, he wouldn’t call it “carryover,” either.
The biggest news for the Focus is the much-anticipated addition of Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder turbo engine with stop-start technology. This engine launched in the U.S. in the 2014 Fiesta SFE, and as with the Fiesta SFE, the Focus 1.0L will come only with a six-speed manual transmission, which will limit its appeal in the United States. Unlike the Fiesta, however, the engine will be a standalone option available across Focus trim levels and in either the four-door hatchback or the four-door sedan.
Ford has not released horsepower, torque, or fuel efficiency numbers for the Focus 1.0L. In the Fiesta, the engine makes 123 horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque, and the car achieves 32/45 mpg (city/highway) according to the EPA.
The electrically assisted power steering (EPAS), suspension hardware, bushing stiffness, and rear suspension all have been retuned to give the Focus “a more connected feel,” says Jon Polasek, North American chief engineer for the Focus. The EPAS changes give it better feel and feedback and make it feel more precise and better off-center.
“The torque build-up is more linear,” Polasek says.
The 2015 Ford Focus also gets LED lighting incorporated into the headlamps and taillamps. Up front, they serve as the daytime running lamps. The rear bumper fascia also has been redesigned, and the sedan’s trunk lid is new. All these are hallmarks of a unibody facelift.
“The new Focus has a redesigned interior, a more intuitive layout — it’s a more upscale interior,” Nair says. The front seats have been redesigned for better comfort and more style, and a new Sport Package available for the mainstream, high-volume Focus SE adds 17-inch black aluminum wheels, a black grille, and a black rear spoiler, plus paddle shifters for the dual-clutch automatic, the first time they’ve been offered on the car.
The center console’s charging plug has been re-engineered so that electronic devices charge as quickly as if plugged into a home wall socket, the cupholders have been redesigned, and a 60/40-split rear seat is now standard on all models.
Sync, MyKey, and a rear-view camera are now standard, and new options include a heated steering wheel, a Blind Spot Information System, and lane-keeping assist.
Ford touts the Focus as the world’s bestselling nameplate, with 1,097,618 sold last year. In the U.S. however, where Ford sold 234,570 units, the Focus only comes in fifth among compacts, behind the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, the Chevrolet Cruze, and the Hyundai Elantra. In this cutthroat segment, the best Ford can hope for with a mid-cycle update, even one as thorough as this, is to hold its position.