Time to refocus
Ford’s new small car could end the Blue Oval’s blues
THE car Ford Australia desperately needs to reverse its flagging fortunes arrives in August— and not a moment too soon.
The all-new Focus hatch and sedan give the Blue Oval a much overdue riposte to the runaway sales success of the Mazda3 and the Holden Cruze in the highly competitive small car segment, the most popular among private buyers.
Ford Australia will import the Focus from Germany’s Saarlouis plant in four specification levels, including top level Titanium trim, and three engines. Designed by Moray Callum, the Focus has a base model with 1.6-litre Duratec Ti-VCT engine, followed by the mainstay 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol and a 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi common rail turbo diesel.
A hot turbo petrol ST version is due next year.
Driven by Carsguide with the 2.0-litre petrol engine and sixspeed dual clutch automatic in Los Angeles earlier this year, the new Focus is appreciably more refined and upmarket than the outgoing car, a smartdriving but comparatively crude South African-built relation to the Mazda3. Upscale versions get Ford’s multi- media Human Machine Interface, Active Park Assist, cruise control with Adjustable Speed Limiting Device (ASLD), keyless entry with push-button start and Adaptive Cruise Control. All variants get the Torque Vectoring Control system, which electronically simulates a limited-slip differential. In the Hollywood Hills, we found this helps to make the Focus an exceptionally tidy handler.
Ford Australia spokesman Justin Lacey said final prices would be released in July but said they would not
‘‘ move massively’’ on the current model, which starts at $21,990.
Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said the Focus had more affordable technologies and features than the company had previously fitted in this sector. ‘‘ In every world market where Focus competes, customers are looking for expressive design, affordable innovation, superior quality, responsive performance and exceptional fuel economy,’’ he said.
That goes double for Australia. This year the staple Falcon dropped out of the top 10 for the first time and in some months was nearly outsold by the Fiesta city car.