Take a new product development process, mix in human-centered design and customer feedback, and toss in a dash of new technology and simmer until tender. What do you have? The new Ford Focus.
“We’re evolving our successful One Ford strategy to find new ways to create a sporty-looking small car our customers will love,” explained Jim Farley, President of Global Markets, Ford Motor Company. “We’ll tailor which cars in the Focus lineup we offer in markets around the world to ensure we best meet customers’ different needs and preferences.”
Ford employees spent hundreds of hours speaking with customers from around the world, and the new Focus will be “tailored” to each global region accordingly. Ford says, through the use of globally common but flexible architectures and modules, the new Focus can better appeal to individual needs while maintaining a high level of commonality but low complexity.
Future Ford vehicles will adopt this pattern. In essence, the automaker will move from individual platforms to more flexible architectures paired with modular “families.” This will streamline a number of common components like engines, electronics, and sunroofs.
Expect the new Focus to tech it up with high-speed internet, wireless device charging, and the new CoPilot360 system, essentially a package of advanced safety features. The content of CoPilot360 will vary by region, but generally includes things like Adaptive Cruise Control, Speed Sign Recognition, Lane-Centering, Evasive Steering Assist, and an updated version of Active Park Assist.
The enhanced version of Active Park Assist operates the gear selection, acceleration, and braking when parking – prior versions required the driver to shift the gear and control the brake pedal. CoPilot360 also includes an Adaptive Front Lighting System, a camera-based technology that pre-adjusts the headlamps for improved visibility, like around a curve for example.
SYNC 3, housed in the eight-inch color touchscreen, is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With SYNC 3, drivers can voice control a number of functions like audio and navigation, or climate and connected devices. The FordPass app has a vehicle locator service, just in case you lose your new Focus in the mall parking lot on a Saturday afternoon. That same app doubles as a remote start.
Big Things & Small Packages
Get ready to stretch out backseat passengers! The new Focus gains nearly 2.4 inches of shoulder room, two inches of knee clearance, and nearly three inches of legroom. Up front, Ford says the instrument panel is “optimized for getting in and out of the car.” Wonder how they pulled that off?! The electronic parking brake and rotary shifter make for easier access to the cupholders. Perfect. Coffee time!
There are even soft knee pads on the center console for added comfort.
And how about this: special consideration was given to the shape of the mirrors to help reduce that air throbbing effect when one window is lowered while driving. Pretty cool!
Those with furry family members will find ample room in the wagon models for pet carriers. With the rear seats folded flat, the new Focus wagon offers a generous 58 cubic feet of space. Ford says considering the needs of pet owners was important during development.
Power & Performance
The new Focus receives a chassis and suspension overhaul to increase torsional rigidity by 20 percent. Standard drive modes include Normal, Sport, and Eco, and adjust the engine and transmission responses, steering feel, and Adaptive Cruise Control to match a driver’s preferences.
In China, the new Focus offers the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine or an all-new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine. In Europe, customers have a 2.0-liter EcoBlue diesel available. North American powertrain options will be announced at a later date. The engines can be paired to an optional eight-speed automatic that actively assesses vehicle and environmental information to adjust clutch pressures for smoother gearshifts.
Pricing & Availability
No word yet on pricing but configurations include, depending on the market, a four-door sedan, five-door estate/wagon, and five-door hatchback. Expect the new Ford Focus in Europe and China yet this year, and in North America in the second half of 2019.
Ford says they will formally introduce the new Focus in North America closer to its on-sale date, which hints at a possible reveal during the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, or the 2019 North American International Auto Show.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.