Ford Group Philippines displayed lots of goal orientation centeredness when the company finally rolled out the 2006 Ford Focus unto Philippine shores. Held in Americana-themed grandiose at the NBC Tent in The Fort (Taguig City), the launch featured a fleet of Focus passenger sedans in order to give motoring journalists and the public a chance to experience the Focus' potpourri of European styling, German engineering and superb driving dynamics.

"In the Philippines, Ford will be introducing the four-door version as they are the most popular in the region. It is bringing in a choice of Focus body styles to meet the different lifestyle needs of Filipino consumers. The range is built on the car's reputation of quality, smooth/sporty driving and world-class driving dynamics. It is a benchmark for best-in-class agility, precision, comfort and stability and the strongest ride," shared Ford vice-president for sales and marketing Luie Dy Buncio.

The Focus four-door is clearly an evolution of its predecessor, maintaining a bold design in terms of sharp and sporting lines at the front and rear pillars and making the front end show the car's prominent shoulders and wheel arches. Also, the wheelbase was lengthened by 25 mm (to 2614 mm) and widened (by 40 mm), giving it a 4.34 m length and a 1.84 m width. "The elevated, sculpture-like front end crosses over fluently into the middle section. The passenger's area of the previous-generation Focus looked like it was added on; with the new Focus, the key lines of the body structures sweep up towards the rear to create a hunched and athletic profile," said Chris Bird, designer of the '06 Focus.

The underside of the Focus is based on the "C1 Medium" platform, used for the Mazda 3 and the Volvo S40 and V60 with the primary purpose of optimizing safety features. This platform has helped engineers to increase torsional stiffness by ten percent and allows the front pillar to be moved forward 100 mm to generate space and produce positive impact with regard to crash protection. Also, the car's occupant cell and the enveloping energy-absorbent crush zones were rigorously tested in virtual and physical form at the Volvo Safety Centre in Sweden.

The '06 Focus features a four-speed automatic transmission (with Sequential Sport Shift, similar to the Mazda 3's transmission), 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, 123 hp, 121 lbs-ft, Duratec Ti-VCT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) engine, which improves airflow through the engine and delivers more torque while reducing average fuel consumption by up to five percent. The Ti-VCT system features vane-type variable camshaft timing, which enables the oil pressure to be optimized at all engine speeds. Ti-VCT offers a shifting range of 50 degrees on the intake side and 45 degrees on the exhaust side, with the cams in a default position at low engine speeds to ensure good starting. Once engine speed increases, two oil-flow control valves adjust the cam timing for higher airflow.

The '06 Focus suspension features Ford's trademark Control Blade suspension, which features a shaft of metal at the rear axle (billed as the control blade) as a stabilizer of sorts when the car enters corners. Ford added significant changes to the Control Blade technology, such as reinforced wheel mounts and rear supporting frame, double ball-jointed arms (to improve pivoting of the control blade) and the addition of a rear anti-roll bar drop link with special low friction double ball joints. An all-new design of the front subframe provides stiffness increase at the attachment points, which (together with a wider support base and stiffer anti-roll bar attachments) produce better cornering and roll control, thus improving comfort and handling confidence. Steering-wise, the Focus features electric-hydraulic power-assisted steering (EHPAS) to make low speed maneuvering easier while preserving precision on the open road.

The Focus is pegged at a modest Php 815,000-Php 850,000

Honoring those licensed to write

Coinciding with the launch of the '06 Focus was the launch of the '05 Henry Ford Awards (HFA), a venue to salute those who have exemplified excellence in automotive reporting. Since its introduction in 2001, the HFA has recognized 15 outstanding journalists with 34 automotive news features and photos from print, online and TV. The number of entries has also grown through the years, from a mere 48 in 2001 to last year's 104 entries.

This year's HFA is now more exciting, thanks to the addition of two new categories the best Environment and Conservation feature story and the best Safety features story. "The addition of the two new categories aims to extend the coverage of eligible entries and to make the program more relevant to the present time. The concern on road safety and environment are among the issues that the automotive industry has been greatly involved in. We hope that through the addition of categories specific to these two topic, we are able to encourage our friends from the media to write more about the safety and environmental initiatives of auto manufacturers and the industry," said Ford Group Philippines president Henry Co.

Aside from the special category for best Ford feature, the 2005 Henry Ford Awards is also set to give due recognition to the best Mazda feature story. All in all, 12 awards will be up for grabs, with the ten categories which are not limited to Ford and Mazda stories include Published Photo For Newspaper, Published Photo For Magazine, Auto Event Story, Auto Test Drive, Automotive Online Feature, Motoring Column Issue, Environment and Conservation Feature, Safety Feature, Automotive Television Feature and the Special Category on Auto Industry Story.

Entries may be nominated by editors, publishers, TV producers and fellow journalists or entered by the participating journalists themselves. Winners of the first nine categories will bring home P25,000 plus a personalized trophy. Special category winners (such as the best Auto Industry Story, the best Ford and the best Mazda story) will bring home P35,000 plus a personalized trophy. Qualified entries for the 2005 program should have been published, broadcast or posted within November 2, 2004 to November 1, 2005.