Ford's refreshed Focus kills the competition

Karma’s a bitch. Just ask Ford. You see, way back (OK, 20 years ago) the then head honcho of Ford Southern Africa, Jim Miller, decided to buy some market share.

At the time (late 1994) Ford had just taken over Samcor and some quick results were needed to keep the shareholders happy. So two rehashed cheapies, the Mazda 323 Midge and its Ford-cousin, the Laser Tonic, were introduced to the local entry-level market.

These models were even more affordable than the evergreen VW Citi (launched in 1984) and their introduction sparked a full-on entry-level price war. It also led to the launch of the Toyota Tazz in 1996 to counter the Ford/VW threat.

Then came Corolla

In April last year Toyota introduced the Corolla Quest, an affordable, no-nonsense C-segment sedan, throwing the C-segment sedan market into disarray, much like the Midge and Tonic did two decades ago.

Other contenders, the Focus included, were now outclassed in terms of affordability, and Ford’s market share in this segment declined rapidly.

Hyundai responded by keeping non-facelifted Elantra models in its inventory, while Ford did some fancy footwork in securing favourable terms of supply of the revamped Focus from Germany (up ’til now it was sourced from Thailand).

Blue Oval strikes back

Then the refocused Focus arrived and surprised all with some dramatic changes – not only in terms of tech, dynamics and efficiency, but also price.

Its Kinetic 2 design was restyled with an inverted trapezoidal grille, slimmer front headlamps and elongated fog-lights to emulate the Fusion, Fiesta and Ecosport.

Interior changes include a simplified central stack (let’s face it, the old one was a shambles), new steering wheel, black satin trim and chrome detailing, redesigned centre storage console and a new sliding, integrated armrest.

Brilliant engines

Perhaps the most exciting upgrade is the smaller, yet more powerful and frugal engines in the latest Focus, consisting of the award-winning 1.0 EcoBoost (replacing the 1.6-litre normally aspirated engine) and 1.5 litre EcoBoost (that made its debut in the Fusion) petrol engines.

It may just be a measly 1-litre turbo, but with 92kW and 170Nm (up from 159Nm) on tap, it powers the Focus from standstill to 100km/h in a respectable 11.1 seconds.

Equipped with a six-speed manual ’box it consumes around 5 litres per 100km and its CO2 emissions are 116 g/km – mostly thanks to technologies such as Auto-Start-Stop, Active Grille Shutter and Ford EcoMode.

The 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine (132kW and 240Nm of torque) is a star performer and also 17 percent more frugal than the 2-litre it replaces. It consumes around 5.5 l/100km and its CO2 emissions are only 127 g/km.

Super safety spec

A host of driver assistance systems, such as Active Park with hands-free perpendicular parking assist, Cross Traffic Alert and Park-Out Assist is now offered.

Its Active City Stop collision avoidance system has been improved to operate at speeds of up to 50 km/h (up from 30 km/h) and Active Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and Distance Indication systems are standard.

The Focus line-up now consists of six derivatives with two body styles – a four-door sedan and five-door hatch – and two equipment levels, Ambiente and Trend. Two SelectShift six-speed auto derivatives are expected later this year, while a diesel may also follow.

All the cars, from the entry-level 1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente to the 1.5 Ecoboost Trend, are well-kitted, even boasting a fully-featured audio system, a 4.2-inch screen (11cm), Ford SYNC with Bluetooth and Voice Control, as well as a 12-volt power point with auxiliary input.

An optional Trend styling pack (R14 810) and Trend Driver Assistance pack (R11 940) are also available.

Sharp handling

The Focus’s superb handling has now been further improved with a stiffer front end, revised suspension and dampers, and an industry-first Enhanced Transitional Stability system. This prevents skidding even before wheel slip is detected.

Both models displayed exemplary handling traits, with a solid, responsive and connected-to-the-road feel, and the dampers soaked up bumps and undulations with aplomb.

Realigning the Focus means Ford has dropped prices by around R22 000 on average. This means the EcoBoost Ambiente sedan is available for R212 900 (compared to R233 900 for the outgoing 1.6 Ambiente), while the 1.5 EcoBoost Trend 4-door auto costs R279 900 (against R292 200 for the 2.0 Trend auto).

This means that the Focus is now a much better product, yet more affordable. It deserves to sell well. 

Maybe karma can be overcome after all.

 

PRICING

4-Door sedan

1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente - R212 900
1.0 EcoBoost Trend - R229 900
1.5 EcoBoost Trend - R265 900
1.5 EcoBoost Trend Auto - R279 900

5-Door hatch

1.0 EcoBoost Ambiente - R217 900
1.0 EcoBoost Trend - R234 900
1.5 EcoBoost Trend - R271 900
1.5 EcoBoost Trend Auto - R284 900

Options

Metallic Paint - R750
Styling Pack - R14 810
Driver Assistance Pack - R11 940
16" Alloy wheels (Ambiente) - R6 540

*All cars are sold with a four year/120 000km warranty, four year/80 000km service plan, three year/unlimited km roadside assistance and five year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. Service intervals are 20 000km on the EcoBoost engines.

#Ford #Focus# #hatch #sedan

 

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