Automotive

Ford throws the kitchen sink at new Focus, claiming it's "the best car in our 114-year history"

Ford's New Focus ST, Active, Titanium and Vignale represent the first fruits of a new design philosophy
Ford's New Focus ST, Active, Titanium and Vignale represent the first fruits of a new design philosophy
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Ford Focus Active: slight lift kit
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Ford Focus Active: slight lift kit
Ford Focus Active: protective skid plates and other exterior features for a tiny bit of off-road capability
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Ford Focus Active: protective skid plates and other exterior features for a tiny bit of off-road capability
Ford Focus Active: the Focus of choice if you're driving gravel or grass
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Ford Focus Active: the Focus of choice if you're driving gravel or grass
Ford Focus Active: a range of gasoline and diesel engine options
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Ford Focus Active: a range of gasoline and diesel engine options
Ford Focus Active: 8-speed auto or 6-speed manual are available
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Ford Focus Active: 8-speed auto or 6-speed manual are available
Ford's new Focus lineup 
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Ford's new Focus lineup 
Ford's New Focus ST, Active, Titanium and Vignale represent the first fruits of a new design philosophy
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Ford's New Focus ST, Active, Titanium and Vignale represent the first fruits of a new design philosophy
The Ford Focus launch in London
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The Ford Focus launch in London
Ford Focus ST-Line: the youngest, sportiest variant
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Ford Focus ST-Line: the youngest, sportiest variant
Ford Focus ST-Line: a tight little hatch designed with fun in mind
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Ford Focus ST-Line: a tight little hatch designed with fun in mind
Ford Focus ST-Line: active suspension
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Ford Focus ST-Line: active suspension
Ford Focus ST-Line: wider, lower body should be even more fun in the bends
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Ford Focus ST-Line: wider, lower body should be even more fun in the bends
Ford Focus ST-Line: can't mistake that grille
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Ford Focus ST-Line: can't mistake that grille
Ford Focus ST-Line: machined alloy wheels 
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Ford Focus ST-Line: machined alloy wheels 
Ford Focus ST-Line: the ford design team "loves to make its engineering Instagrammable."
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Ford Focus ST-Line: the ford design team "loves to make its engineering Instagrammable."
Ford Focus ST-Line: quick and fun
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Ford Focus ST-Line: quick and fun
Ford Focus ST-Line: adaptive cruise control can now read street signs to set its own speed limits
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Ford Focus ST-Line: adaptive cruise control can now read street signs to set its own speed limits
Ford Focus ST-Line: now features automatic emergency swerve assistance
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Ford Focus ST-Line: now features automatic emergency swerve assistance
Ford Focus ST-Line: machined alloy wheels
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Ford Focus ST-Line: machined alloy wheels
Ford Focus ST-Line: front fascia
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Ford Focus ST-Line: front fascia
Ford Focus ST-Line: roomy hatchback
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Ford Focus ST-Line: roomy hatchback
Ford Focus ST-Line: inside the hatch
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Ford Focus ST-Line: inside the hatch
Ford Focus ST-Line: interior
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Ford Focus ST-Line: interior
Ford Focus ST-Line: adjustable drink holders behind the inductive phone charging pad
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Ford Focus ST-Line: adjustable drink holders behind the inductive phone charging pad
Ford Focus ST-Line: sporty interior
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Ford Focus ST-Line: sporty interior
Ford Focus ST-Line: wide, bright HUD
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Ford Focus ST-Line: wide, bright HUD
Ford Focus ST-Line: phone charging pad
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Ford Focus ST-Line: phone charging pad
Ford Focus ST-Line: dash instruments
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Ford Focus ST-Line: dash instruments
Ford Focus ST-Line: rear seats have 5 mm extra leg room in all models
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Ford Focus ST-Line: rear seats have 5 mm extra leg room in all models
Ford Focus ST-Line: reversing camera offers almost 180-degree vision to help you get out of blind driveways backwards
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Ford Focus ST-Line: reversing camera offers almost 180-degree vision to help you get out of blind driveways backwards
Ford Focus ST-Line: steering wheel
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Ford Focus ST-Line: steering wheel
Ford Focus ST-Line: kick plates
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Ford Focus ST-Line: kick plates
Ford Focus Titanium: the family wagon of the series
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Ford Focus Titanium: the family wagon of the series
Ford Focus Titanium: designed with parents in mind
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Ford Focus Titanium: designed with parents in mind
Ford Focus Titanium: optional panoramic roof
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Ford Focus Titanium: optional panoramic roof
Ford Focus Titanium: 10% better fuel economy across the board
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Ford Focus Titanium: 10% better fuel economy across the board
Ford Focus Titanium: large self-opening trunk
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Ford Focus Titanium: large self-opening trunk
Ford Focus Titanium: plenty of room in the back
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Ford Focus Titanium: plenty of room in the back
Ford Focus Titanium: interior
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Ford Focus Titanium: interior
Ford Focus Vignale: a focus on luxury
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Ford Focus Vignale: a focus on luxury
Ford Focus Vignale: high-end touches skew this model toward older customers
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Ford Focus Vignale: high-end touches skew this model toward older customers
Ford Focus Vignale: improved aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires
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Ford Focus Vignale: improved aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires
Ford Focus Vignale: a touch of luxury
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Ford Focus Vignale: a touch of luxury
Ford Focus Vignale: leather interior
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Ford Focus Vignale: leather interior
Ford Focus Vignale: optional sunroof and panoramic roof
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Ford Focus Vignale: optional sunroof and panoramic roof
Ford Focus Vignale: extra junk in the trunk
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Ford Focus Vignale: extra junk in the trunk
Ford Focus Vignale: 8-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen
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Ford Focus Vignale: 8-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen
Ford Focus Vignale: 675-watt B&O Play sound system
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Ford Focus Vignale: 675-watt B&O Play sound system
Ford Focus Vignale: touch switches
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Ford Focus Vignale: touch switches
Ford Focus Vignale: 8-speed auto with scroll wheel
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Ford Focus Vignale: 8-speed auto with scroll wheel
Ford Focus Vignale: interior takes things upscale a notch
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Ford Focus Vignale: interior takes things upscale a notch
Ford Focus Vignale: rear seats
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Ford Focus Vignale: rear seats

Ford isn't mincing words at the launch of its all-new Focus lineup, claiming it's "quite simply, the best car in our 114-year history." It's a ground-up redesign with a new look, a heap more driver assist goodies and a sizeable jump in efficiency.

The complete overhaul of Ford's popular rally-bred getabout is part of the company's switch to a new design philosophy. There will eventually be five flexible basic architectures, upon which common body, chassis, electrical and drivetrain modules will sit to build out the American manufacturer's range in the coming years.

So it's far more than a cosmetic upgrade for this year's Focus, it's a top to bottom re-think, but one Ford insists won't impact the fun driving experience these things offer.

Ford Focus ST-Line: the ford design team "loves to make its engineering Instagrammable."
Ford Focus ST-Line: the ford design team "loves to make its engineering Instagrammable."

Visually, the new Focus takes some steps that'll split the crowd. There's more than a hint of Hyundai Veloster to it, with its accented wheel arches and crouched-over hatchback on the ST version. It's not a bad look – just perhaps one that might struggle to stand out. Still, the wheels and front grille are unmistakeable.

Engine, chassis and drivetrain

Under the hood, there are several options, from the 1- and 1.5-liter Ecoboost three-cylinder engines (which can deactivate a cylinder for even more economical driving), as well as 1.5- and 2-liter EcoBlue diesel motors for even greater economy. In terms of power, there are options galore. The 1.0-liter EcoBoost is available with 80, 100 or 125 hp, the 1.5-liter Ecoboost can give you 150 or 182 horses, the 1.5-liter EcoBlue diesel can give you 95 or 120 (with 300 Nm/221 lb-ft of torque), and the 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel will give you 150 horses and 370 Nm (236 lb-ft) of torque. The buying experience could get a little laborious, but that's an impressive range of motors to choose from.

The transmissions, common to all versions, include an 8-speed intelligent shift auto that is said to be capable of detecting and learning your driving style to continuously improve its decision making. There's also a 6-speed manual.

Ford Focus Vignale: 8-speed auto with scroll wheel
Ford Focus Vignale: 8-speed auto with scroll wheel

Aerodynamic improvements yielding a drag coefficient of just 0.273, coupled with low rolling resistance tires and an average weight loss around 50 kg (110 lb) combine with the efficient powertrains to use some 10 percent less fuel per mile across the board. That sort of saving will add up for sure.

Handling has also been a… well, focus. The new body is 20 percent more torsionally stiff, and the car sits lower and wider than its predecessors, promising a terrific cornering experience for sportier drivers. On top of that, there's now a Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) system that constantly reads the road and your driving style 500 times a second, and tweaks the suspension damping to suit. There's torque vectoring, torque steer compensation and stability control. It's got all the ingredients to be a ton of fun.

Ford Focus ST-Line: interior
Ford Focus ST-Line: interior

Interior and driver assist technologies

As for the interior, where to start? Perhaps with the profligate driver assist gear, which has taken a sizeable step forward.

Adaptive cruise control now goes all the way up to 200 km/h (120 mph) for the truly brave. It also goes all the way down to a full stop in crawling traffic, and will resume by itself if the car in front moves within three seconds. If not, the driver will have to tap the Resume button or the accelerator to get it going again.

The Focus will also actively steer to keep itself in a lane, giving it Level 2 autonomous driving capability. And in a very nice touch, the car will use its cameras as well as GPS mapping information to look out for speed zone changes and automatically follow speed limits in adaptive cruise mode.

Ford Focus ST-Line: wide, bright HUD
Ford Focus ST-Line: wide, bright HUD

The headlights auto-track around corners, but they're not connected to the steering angle as they are on many other cars. Instead, the same cameras the car uses to inform its lane keeping assist functions reads the white lines and road signs to tell the car what corners are coming up, and point the headlights predictively around the turn. If the system sees a roundabout or intersection, it'll widen the beam to give you more information to work with. Great idea.

Active Park Assist 2 gets the all-new capability of managing the gas and brake for you, meaning the car completely parks itself. So choose your parking spot carefully, because you're going to have to get out on your own!

Backing out of driveways gets easier with a super wide-angle reversing camera that gives you nearly 180-degree visibility out the back, as well as Cross Traffic Alert sensors as well.

Ford Focus ST-Line: reversing camera offers almost 180-degree vision to help you get out of blind driveways backwards
Ford Focus ST-Line: reversing camera offers almost 180-degree vision to help you get out of blind driveways backwards

There's a new heads-up display that Ford calls "the widest, brightest HUD on the market," while a new "Evasive Steering Assist" feature helps a driver steer around a slower or stopped vehicle if it detects a crash is imminent. That'll make life interesting.

Smartphone support is terrific, with a built-in FordPass Connect modem that turns the car into Wi-Fi hotspot. There's a wireless charging pad exactly where you'll want to stash your handset while you're driving, and of course Ford's excellent Sync 3 system with voice recognition and an 8-inch touchscreen. The sound system is now a 675-watt monster by Bang & Olufsen, and Ford is confident it's not the sort of system people will go replacing.

You can use an app on your phone to find the car in a parking lot, check the vehicle's status, lock and unlock the doors, remote start the thing or call emergency services – a task you'll also be prompted to consider after a crash.

Ford Focus Titanium: plenty of room in the back
Ford Focus Titanium: plenty of room in the back

Although the exterior dimensions haven't become much bigger, Ford says it's a much roomier interior. Passengers get some 5 cm (2 in) more legroom, and there's some 6 cm (2.4 in) more shoulder room all round. There's extra room in the trunk as well, and the feeling of space can be enhanced with an optional huge panoramic roof.

Ford Focus Vignale: leather interior
Ford Focus Vignale: leather interior

Model lineup

There are four models to start with, each aimed at a slightly different type of customer. The ST-Line is a younger, sportier model aimed at car nuts; the Vignale aims more toward luxury and refinement; the Titanium is your more practical family wagon; and the Active gets a slight lift kit and some protective exterior touches to make it a touch more capable off the tarmac.

Ford Focus Active: protective skid plates and other exterior features for a tiny bit of off-road capability
Ford Focus Active: protective skid plates and other exterior features for a tiny bit of off-road capability

The Focus will roll out globally, and no pricing information is available as yet. There will be 13 color options on launch, and we'd presume a muscled-up RS model won't be far off either, for those really keen on exploring the Focus's racing heritage.

Ford Focus Titanium: designed with parents in mind
Ford Focus Titanium: designed with parents in mind

Ford considers this car extremely important; the harbinger of a new generation of vehicles it sees as a bridge between today's you-drive and tomorrow's self-driving vehicles. It has thrown the kitchen sink at the new Focus. There are a ton of photos in the gallery. Let us know your opinions in the comments.

Source: Ford

18 comments
JimFox
Diesel option? NO, NO & NO!
Bob Stuart
It sounds as if the first repair could cost more than I spend on a car in a decade. I won't buy gadgets I can't fix.
yawood
Diesel option? YES, YES & YES!
Terence Hawkes
Looks fabulous, but is lacking something just about every manufacturer ignores these days...it woulfd be nice to actually be able to use all that wonderful interior space by having the rear seats fold absolutely flat. A few years back, folt flat seats were common. Now they are rare as hen’s teeth. You can give us auto tracking headlights, adaptive ruise control and a fabulous head’s up display but not simple fold flat seats. Why?
Bob
A car that reads signs? We have so many access roads parallel to the highway with signs that are just a few feet from the highway's signs, it is difficult to know which is which. This also has too many engine choices with a hybrid not being one of them. As much as I like GPS navigation, it has a long way to go. More than once has my GPS routed me off the interstate and then told me to make a u-turn and get back on. How about a smart phone system that tells senders you are driving and will answer as soon as the car gets off the highway and stops?
OwkayeGo
It looks like Ford has completely eliminated the sedan body style. That's a shame, because my wife and I both prefer sedans ... so I guess we were lucky to have purchased a new Focus sedan late last year. Maybe Ford will re-introduce another Focus sedan by the time we're in the market for another new car -- which could be years from now if the one we just bought serves us well without any major issues. Only time will tell ...
Paul Stregevsky
I switched from Focus to Fiesta. I strongly prefer smaller cars like Fiesta. But wow, the coming Focus has a lot to like. And with 13 colors on launch, I'm hoping that one of them is green, like my 2011 Fiesta. That way, I can keep my license plate, which smugly reads GREEN.
toolman65
There many reasons why Ford stock has been in decline for the last 5 years. Spending billions to revamp a small car in a segment already full of low margin competitors is new one.
Paul Stregevsky
Terence Hawkes, I agree that a well-rounded car like the Focus deserves fold-flat seats. Fold-flats were perfected in the Honda Fit, which lets you fold the seats flat in second. So my wife and I were dismayed to discover that it takes minutes to fold the seats flat in her 2012 Honda CR-X.
Paul Stregevsky
Now if only Ford stops its silly practice of telling North American Focus and Fiesta buyers, "IF you want our most powerful engine option OR our tiny EcoBoost engine, THEN you must forgo an automatic transmission." With Fiesta, at least, the EcoBoost was finally offered with the 6-speed automatic. But on both the Fiesta and the Focus, if you want the best engine, you're required to buy the ST trim, with a manual shifter.
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