AUTO INDUSTRY NEWS

The new Ford Focus

The new Ford Focus image

Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co, FGP | posted November 13, 2008 00:00

Focused, Focused

The Ford Focus made its debut in the Philippine market in 2005 touted as a European developed sedan with an American badge. The Focus also shares the same platform with its close cousins from Mazda and Volvo, which are the Mazda 3 and the Volvo S40, and both brands being part of the Ford group. Perhaps the most significant justification that makes the car European is the fact that it was actually developed in the UK for the European market.

The new Focus has been improved by leaps and bounds from its predecessor albeit just being a minor model change and not a completely all-new model. The freshened exterior now adapts the new Kinetic design concept of Ford with a Trapezoidal front-center theme, which gives the car a more dynamic and edgy character befitting its drive dynamics which we'll get to later on in this feature. The interior also gets refreshed to follow the new exterior character. The new Dual Clutch Automatic Transmission for the CRDi variant is also a first in class feature providing similar performance to a manual transmission while being more efficient. Improvements have also been made to the Manual Transmission variant promising a smoother drive.

The engine is essentially the same for both gasoline and diesel variants. The Duratec 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter gasoline engines are E20 flexifuel bio-ethanol fuel capable, while the 2.0-liter Duratorq common-rail diesel injection engine is B5 (5% biodiesel) capable.

PowerShift

The new Dual Clutch Transmission was developed with renowned German transmission maker Getrag. The PowerShift consists essentially of two layshaft transmissions working in parallel, each with its own wet clutch unit. Thanks to the layout of the intermediate shafts one carrying the 'uneven' gears 1, 3 and 5, and the other the even gears 2, 4 and 6 subsequent gear changes can be prepared by pre-selecting the next gear while in motion and at full power. The change then takes place through the opposed activation of both clutches, the clutch activations being co-ordinated such that no torque interruption occurs. The six-speed dual clutch transmission provides manual efficiency at the same time offers the comfort of an automatic with sophisticated dynamics from uninterrupted torque from the dual-clutch technology.

Premium car interior

The interior features are of premium car standards featuring new soft-touch grained synthetic material for the instrument panel and upper door trims. One-touch control for all four windows is certainly a feature only found in premium European cars. A newly improved audio system, red illuminated interior controls and gauges, steering mounted audio controls, and improved dual-zone air conditioning system also add to the new package.

The new center console design also creates a flow-through effect that emphasizes on design and function to create a cockpit feel for the driver and front passenger. It is finished off by a movable armrest, plus two cupholders with butterfly-style folding covers, a coin holder and a cardholder.

Intelligent Protection System

The new Ford Focus also features a couple of class firsts in terms of safety. A new emergency hazard warning light activation system is standard for all models. It automatically activates the hazard lights in the event of hazardous braking conditions to avoid rear impact from sudden braking. The system automatically activates if the brake system works 60-70% or more of its capability. The warning lights can switch off automatically by the system or anytime manually when the hazard switch is pressed.

The TDCi Sport PowerShift variant is equipped with Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Traction Control to aid the driver maintain vehicle stability in extreme driving conditions. It helps maneuvering out of emergency situations wherein if a vehicle suddenly stalls in front on the highway at speed, you can safely avoid the vehicle while being still in control of the vehicle.

To help us better understand all this, Ford gathered a group of the motoring media together for a 120-kilometer drive to Subic Bay to take the new Focus on a series of driving exercises to experience its new features and capabilities. The driving exercises included an acceleration test to compare the PowerShift diesel variant with the manual transmission variant. Second was an emergency driving simulation to show off the ESP (electronic stability program) feature of the TDCi Sport PowerShift variant. It was finished off with a short obstacle course to demonstrate the handling capabilities of the car and provide a little fun as it was also a timed competition.

Pricing for the new Focus was done with a Y-Series Strategy with the Sport and Ghia variants taking the upper bracket for their specific markets converged with the Trend standard variant followed by the Core entry level model. Retail for the TDCi Sport PowerShift is set at Php1.150M with a Php10,000 introductory discount. The 2.0-liter Ghia trim retails for Php989,000, 2.0 Sport TDCi Php999,000, 1.8-liter Trend M/T at Php779,000 and A/T at Php849,000. The entry level 1.8-liter Core variant retails for Php759,000.