Change Of Focus For UK No.1
Change Of Focus For UK No.1
he face of things to come at Ford has finally been brought into Focus! Spyshots in the current issue of Auto Express magazine reveal what the next version of the firm's best-seller will look like, and it will make a spectacular debut at this year's Paris Motor Show.
Taking its design inspiration from the all-new Mondeo, with a wide mesh grille and less angular lights, the bold Focus will begin to turn its back on the new edge design of its predecessor with a far more conservative look which is expected to appeal to a wider audience than the current model. The rear builds on some of the styling details first shown on the Fiesta, although slimmer tail-lights give a sleeker appearance.
The Focus is promising to set new standards of performance, space and refinement in a class it already dominates with the bold looks of the current model, launched in 1998. It's expected to build on the existing car's status as Britain's number one seller. Set to rival the new VW Golf family, also due to debut at the Paris show, and Vauxhall's forthcoming new Astra, the Focus aims to leave its opposition trailing.
At the core of the Ford's appeal will be the strength of its model line-up.
As well as the three and five-door versions illustrated in the magazine, engineers have built a mini-MPV edition and are working on a range of estates, saloons and even a coupé.
In fact, it will be the mini-MPV that the public will see first, as it takes a bow at the Paris event as a concept. On sale from August 2003, the car will offer a versatile interior to rival the likes of the Vauxhall Zafira and forthcoming Golf MPV.
Based on Ford's all-new C1 platform (which is also providing the basic underpinnings of Volvo's V50), the Focus will be bigger than the car it replaces. The versatility of this new platform allows engineers to add length to the wheelbase without the need for drastic reengineering. That means passengers are to be treated to generous levels of head and legroom. Safety standards are expected to be first rate, too. Fitted with Ford's IPS (intelligent protection system), the Focus is targeting a five-star Euro NCAP rating, while it will also aim to be easy to service and repair, keeping running costs as low as possible.
The engine line-up is expected to add a new dimension to the Ford's appeal as well. Entry-level cars will use an updated 1.6-litre Duratec unit with a proven history in the current Focus. But the MPV is set to feature two new direct-injection petrol engines offering variable valve timing and 1.6 and 1.8 litres respectively, as well as new 1.6 and 2.0-litre TDCi diesels, which are likely to use a clever electronic set-up to reduce turbo lag. At launch, the 2.0-litre variant will be the most powerful engine available in the new car, producing 135bhp and 300Nm of torque.
Fans of the more traditional three and five-door hatchbacks will have to wait a little longer to slide behind the wheel – these versions aren't expected until at least 2004 – while keen drivers won't be able to get their hands on the Ford Start-inspired Coupé until 2005. Dan Strong