While American buyers will likely not see a new until 2010, a totally reworked version-in three-door coupe, five-door hatchback, sedan, and wagon forms-goes on sale in Europe in early 2005. The car has been such a huge success for Ford that the new Focus is evolutionary. The exterior styling is actually a bit of a disappointment, because it looks very similar to the outgoing car’s, except that the headlamps, wheel arches, and hood line ape the European Mondeo sedan. The three-door coupe has a radical fastback style to inject some panache into its cheap car image.
The new Focus has a much higher quality interior, with such desirable features as a navigation system and rear-seat DVD entertainment package available. The Focus rides on the same corporate platform as the Volvo S40/V50 and Mazda3, so it’s grown by about an inch in length and 1.6 inches in width, while torsional rigidity is said to be 10 percent higher. The excellent control blade rear and MacPherson strut front suspension remains.
Engines range from a 78-horsepower 1.4-liter four to a 2.0-liter that makes 143 hp; there are two turbo-diesels, a 108-hp 1.6-liter unit and a 134-hp 2.0-liter. All the engines are mated to a five-speed manual transmission, except the 2.0 diesel, which has a six speed. Buyers of the 1.6-liter diesel can specify a continuously variable transmission, and 1.6-liter gasoline buyers can opt for an automatic.
We have long been fans of the ride and handling balance of the Focus, but haven’t been as enamored of its interior quality and durability. The newest one looks as if it will be even better to drive and is up with the class-leading VW Golf on interior fit and finish. How typical that Ford feels it can fob American customers off with a tweaked version of the existing car while European consumers get a greatly enhanced product.