The Ford Focus, the world’s best-selling nameplate for the past two years, is getting a facelift for 2015, and any family resemblance is purely intentional.
And it’s not just to the bigger Ford Fusion, but also to Ford’s former luxury brand Aston Martin. The 2015 Focus adopts the same Aston-like trapezoid grille first seen on the Fusion and now working its way through the rest of the Ford line-up, from the little Fiesta to the 50th anniversary remake of the Ford Mustang.
Beyond the new face, the basic shape of the 5-door model Ford rolled out at a high-tech conference in Barcelona this weekend is generally familiar, despite Ford’s claim to have redesigned everything from the nose to the A-pillars, as well as the hatchback’s liftgate. We’ll make a closer inspection in little more than a week when the 2015 Focus 5-door reappears at the Geneva Motor Show. The sedan version is set to follow in April when it makes its world debut at the New York Auto Show.
Morey Callum, Ford vice president of design, is quick to agree that the look of the new Focus is familiar, at least from the front end. The distinctive grille, which made its well-publicized debut two years ago on the Fusion has been instrumental in transforming Ford’s image, according to Callum.
And when it came time to do a mid-cycle update for Focus, he added, “We wanted to give the car more emotion,” while delivering a premium experience at an affordable price.
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Inside, the updated hatchback has a clean, modern look, with satin chrome detailing, new seat trims, switches and, adding that premium touch, an optional heated steering wheel. Storage is improved with a new center console incorporating adjustable cupholders, and an easier-to-access glove box.
“This is the most important product in our line-up,” noted Raj Nair, Ford vice president of global product development, who said the automaker is preparing to build on the past success of the Focus, which Ford now sell in 140 different markets around the world — including China, where it has been racing to catch up with key competitors like General Motors and Volkswagen.
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Keeping the Focus fresh is critical for Ford in a highly competitive global segment. The maker claims the compact model was the world’s best-selling nameplate in 2013, nudging aside such competitors as the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla – though Toyota questions Ford’s numbers. What seems less debatable is the fact that Focus sales last year increased 16% to 1.1 million sedans and hatchbacks.
“What we will be doing is taking it a step further,” Nair said, during a media background briefing, noting the Focus is expected to maintain sales leadership with a bolder look — and more advanced technologies that improve driver comfort and safety.
Also critical to buyers in the compact or C-segment is fuel economy and the award-winning 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine – paired with a six-speed transmission — will again be available in the 2015 Focus.
“The 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine is proof that excellent fuel economy and performance can come in one package,” added Nair.
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In Europe, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost accounts for 32% of sales of the current-generation Focus and 26% of Fiesta sales this year. Robust demand for the 1.0-liter in Europe has prompted Ford to double production capacity at its plant in Cologne, Germany, to more than 1,000 engines a day.
The 2015 Ford Focus was revealed on Sunday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry.
The decision to debut the new model there rather than waiting for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show isn’t as surprising as it might first seem. Ford has routinely used the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to debut new products and technologies. And it will be putting a lot of emphasis on the high-tech features of the 2015 Ford Focus.
Driver-assist technologies include a rearview camera and an available Blind Spot Information System, as well as a new lane-keeping system, Nair said.
Standard on Focus for the first time, the rearview camera will appear on either a 4.2-inch screen or the 8-inch screen that comes on cars equipped with the MyFordTouch infotainment system.
The blind spot detection system uses two multiple-beam radar modules – technology shared with the cross-traffic alert system — packaged in the rear quarter panels. If the driver drifts out of the current lane without a turn signal on, the lane-keeping system vibrates the steering wheel, mimicking a rumble strip. If the driver doesn’t respond, the system actively applies steering torque to nudge the car back towards the center of the current lane.
New Focus drivers will also have access to a host of new apps that can communicate with Ford’s enhanced AppLink.
Both the four- and five-door versions of the Focus will be available in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2014.
(Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.)