Ford Group Philippines (FGP or Ford) recently launched the much-awaited Ford Focus Sport hatchback; following the successful debut of its Ford Focus 1.8L Ghia four-door sedan. Toting a five-door body and a two-liter Duratec engine, the Php 990,000 Focus Sport hatchback provides an appealing blend of European design, German engineering and driving dynamics borne from lessons learned in the World Really Championship (WRC).

Euro design

Designed in Germany, the Focus hatch features a distinctive and sleek silhouette, emphasized by the windshields' positioning and a sporty rear end design (highlighted by C-pillar mounted taillights and a wide tailgate) that distinguishes it from other vehicles in the hypercompetitive compact car segment. Its low stance adds to its sporting poise and dynamic attitude, which when combined with the hatch's wide track (1535 mm) and long wheelbase (2640 mm) provides predictable but rewarding handling and cornering grip.

And one will immediately notice the steeply raked nose, from which the key lines of the body structure emanate and sweep up towards the rear, creating an athletic profile. From the low, wide styling of the nose a power bulge arches back from the radiator grille to the A-pillars. "The new Focus profile features two distinctive lines, first of which is the sharp crease that comes very tightly around the front wheel arches and actually run the length of the vehicle, which I believe expresses the 'milled out of solid metal' look. The second is the very sharp line from the center of the nose back over the whole length of the vehicle that highlights the fast lines of the A- and C-pillars," said Ford Asia-Pacific/Africa design manager Paul Gibson.

The distinctive lines of the car present a distinctive wraparound driving environment meant to excite the driver in city or highway driving. Billed by Ford as "cockpit feel", the interior design gives a sense that the car is wrapped around its occupants and that everything they want is where they would want to find it, without compromises. For example, the Focus features a center console that contains covered cup holders that conceal the indents when not in use and a wide center armrest with extra storage space inside. Also thrown in for occupant enjoyment are six-way power adjustable driver's seats, tilt/telescopic adjustable steering, one-touch up/down power windows (with anti-trap feature), a tinted power-assisted moonroof (with anti-trap feature), sport leather seats (with fabric inserts) and a square-off trunk with 385 liters of cargo space (aided by 60/40 folding rear seats). And the front (dual zone) and rear airconditioning is controlled by Ford's premium Dual Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (D-EATC) system, which automatically adjusts itself to factors such as ultraviolet rays, powertrain configuration, engine coolant temperature and vehicle speed to ensure that the temperature in the vehicle stays consistent with the occupants' chosen settings.

German engineering and superior driving dynamics

The Focus hatch breaks with conventional thinking that only the folks from Munich, Stuttgart, Zuffenhausen or Ingolstadt have a monopoly on automotive engineering. Grunt is delivered via the aforementioned two-liter engine, featuring 143 hp and 185 NMs of torque in a DOHC inline-four setup, swirl control valves in the intake ports, a variable intake system, a set-for-life valvetrain system to generate higher air mass to all four cylinders to increase torque and a four-speed sequential sports shift automatic transmission similar to its Mazda 3 platform twin.

Grace is delivered via a refined version of the Focus' Control Blade suspension, so-called due to the installation of a scimitar-shaped link at the rear axle as a means of controlling initial roll and camber yield. Inputs from the first-generation Focus (both in street and WRC setups) led to the installation of improved rear anti-roll drop links with special low-friction double ball joints for increased handling response. The chassis now includes larger front dampers and shock absorbers, gas-filled twin tube struts and rebound springs. The front lower control arms are mounted to the subframe by two carefully tuned horizontal bushes to provide increased vehicle stability under braking, highly responsive steering precision and impact absorption. Complimenting the said control arms is an Electro-Hydraulic Power Assisted Steering (EHPAS) system, which uses an electro-motor pump that relies on vehicle speed and steering wheel speed as input to calculate and provide the necessary support, such as low feedback during parking maneuvers and progressive feedback during high-speed cornering. Grace under braking pressure is delivered via a four-wheel disc brake system (300 mm front, 280 mm rear, with ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution or EBD), tuned to provide very smooth and defined initial bite, especially at low speeds.

Safety is provided by a Volvo-derived intelligence protection system (IPS), which features crash severity sensors located around the vehicle. In the event of a crash, the said sensors tell the Advance Restraints Module (ARM) which safety features to deploy, and when they should be deployed. Other safety features include energy absorbing crumple zones, diagonal side impact protection beams, anti-intrusion clutch and brake pedals and load limiting steering column (that collapse away from the driver to reduce the chance of leg, chest and head injuries), a fuel shut-off inertia switch that isolates the fuel pump to reduce the risk of fire and an ultra-rigid high-tensile strength passenger cell.