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Ford's Focus sedan gets a stylish makeover

The hatchback is once again in the lineup

The Focus' swanky new interior
Ford is gunning to gain more ground in the small car segment

Ford today unveiled its next generation Ford Focus global platform.  With the new Focus, Ford is hoping to seize more of compact car market (known as the "C segment" outside the U.S.) from competing models like the Honda Civic, Chevy Cobalt, and Toyota Corolla.

The foundation of the new platform is technological innovation.  The new global platform Ford Focus will receive the company's EcoBoost four-cylinder turbocharged direct injection (DI) engines.  European customers will have the option of getting either a 1.6-liter EcoBoost gas engine or an improved Duratorq TDCi common-rail diesel engine.  U.S. customers won't get the diesel, but they will get a 2.0-liter EcoBoost gas engine that features DI and Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT).  The new engines should provide a bit more horsepower (the 2.0-liter North American engine adds an extra 20 hp compared to its predecessor).  They also should provide 10 to 20 percent gains in fuel economy (a bit over 10 percent, in the North American engine's case).

The North American Focus will also get Ford's new dual-clutch six-speed Ford PowerShift automatic transmission.  The new transmission offers additional fuel economy savings of about 9 percent.  It replaces the manual parts -- torque converters, planetary gears and oil pumps -- found in standard automatics, with a more efficient system that electrically controls the clutch.

The new Focus also may be the first non-hybrid auto to get stop-start technology in the U.S., according to AutoBlog.  This technology allows the vehicle to shut off the engine when stopped, saving fuel, particularly in urban settings.  Ford is targeting a 40+ mpg fuel economy with the stock variant, similar to GM's Chevy Cruze, a key competitor.

A new Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system has also been added, which Ford says will offer "pure and precise responses at high speed."  The new car also gets a new Dynamic Cornering Control system, which Ford says will yield reduced understeer, improved traction and better turn-in.  Together, Ford says these technologies make a vehicle that is both more fun to drive and safer.

Better materials also make the new vehicle safer.  The new vehicle uses steel for 55 percent of the body shell and ultra-high strength and Boron steels in 26 percent of the vehicle’s structure.  Those improvements pay off in cold hard numbers; the new Focus sports a 25 percent greater rigidity than the current North American Focus.

The new Focus will also get Ford's new MyFord Touch infotainment system.  The new system, which we extensively covered at CES 2010, includes a WebKit browser, canned text messaging, voice-commanded climate controls, improved voice commands, smart phone application APIs (including for voice commands), and more.

Ford feels that its new Focus design is also very stylish.  It calls the vehicle's artistic direction "Kinetic Design".  Ford's press release brags, "With its striking front end, sleek profile, dramatic rising beltline and athletic stance, the new Focus clearly telegraphs the rewarding driving experience that awaits customers when they take to the road."

The base variety of the new Focus will be offered in hatchback and sedan forms.  It will be accompanied by the European C-Max and Grand C-Max which will be landing in the U.S. sometime in 2011 and fall under the Focus global design platform.

The next generation Ford Focus won't go on sale until the 2012 model year (2011).  Hybrid and battery electric variants should be coming in the 2013 model year (2012) -- Ford has not committed to hard time frames for their launch.  The electric variant is expected to get 80-100 miles on a charge.  At a recent press event, DailyTech spoke with Ford executives, including CEO Alan Mullaly on their upcoming EV and the company's desire to avoid the temperature-related problems of competitor GM's 2011 Chevy Volt EV.



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RE: Looks great
By FITCamaro on 1/11/2010 9:46:53 PM , Rating: 2
I have to admit it doesn't look bad.

But electric steering sucks balls. I had it on my 06 Cobalt. Was one of the few things I didn't like about the car. I just don't think it'll last as long and it'll be more expensive to fix if it breaks vs. a standard hydraulic pump.


RE: Looks great
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/11/2010 9:55:09 PM , Rating: 3
If all you can pick on is the electric steering, then I'd say they've got a hit :)

That being said, I don't think electric steering is all that bad in this class -- hell, it was good enough for the Acura NSX and Honda S2000. And electric steering means better fuel economy, less weight, etc. Like anything, it all comes down to implementation.

And power electric steering has been around for over two decades -- you sound like an old man ;) What makes you think it won't last long?

Sucks about the Chevy Cruze though; this Focus just sent it to bed without dinner :)


RE: Looks great
By Samus on 1/11/2010 10:13:43 PM , Rating: 2
Considering the steering rack problems that have plagued the Focus series since its incarnation, I'm certainly not gonna complain about it going electric :)

http://forums.focaljet.com/svt-headquarters/524492...

Even SVT owners that have gone synthetic usually get chocolate colored sludge after 30,000 miles. Adding an ADDITIONAL cooler helps, but this is a problem that isn't just limited to the SVT series, either, because the same racks are used between 2000-2007, although the SVT gets special valving which accelerates the fluids decay. Usually by the time the recommended power steering maintenance comes up (60,000 miles SVT, 100,000 miles standard Focus) its too late and the things leaking all over the backside of your transmission.


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