Can you afford a Ford?
FORD has reacted to a big slump in sales of its Focus small car by dropping the cheapest model and making the rest of the range more expensive.
The unusual strategy, which effectively means the price of the cheapest Focus increases by $3100, signals a deliberate move away from fleet sales.
In place of four variants with three engines the revised range adopts a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine and the entry price rises to $23,390 for the Trend hatch with a six-speed manual.
Ford Australia spokesman Neil McDonald says the decision to drop the entry Ambiente is based on the buying habits of existing Focus customers, most of whom are looking for vehicles with extra features.
“Essentially the Ambiente represented about 12 per cent of the share of total Focus sales (YTD 2015). The Trend is the overwhelmingly preferred model (about 60 per cent of Focus is Trend),” McDonald says.
“So by reprofiling the line-up and adding more features, there’s a better opportunity for Focus customers, who want more features in their cars.”
The turbocharged EcoBoost engine is a pearler and its outputs of 132kW/240Nm are 7kW/38Nm up on the 2.0-litre engine it replaces. The previous 1.6-litre engine — used to power the Ambiente — has also been dropped, as has the 2.0-litre turbo diesel.
“We only had a less than 3 per cent take-up for the TDCi (diesel) engine and with the fuel efficiency being delivered by our EcoBoost technology, customers are getting performance and a broad spread of torque from low in the rev range,” McDonald says.
The price of the Focus Trend hatch is $1100 up on the outgoing car but the updated model adds Ford’s Sync2 infotainment software, satellite navigation and a reversing camera. Opting for a six-speed auto costs another $1000.
The most expensive Focus is now the Titanium hatch or sedan with a six-speed auto for $32,690.
The price includes an updated version of Ford’s Active City Stop automatic emergency braking that operates at up to 50km/h. It also gets blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
Fuel consumption is 5.8L/100km for the manual versions, rising to 6.2L/100km for the automatics and topping out at 6.4L/100km on the Titanium.
All models have updated suspension and retuned steering to improve feel. The exterior changes are minor but the button-blinged centre console has been replaced with an eight-inch touchscreen and accompanying decluttered look.
The Focus also includes the MyKey control system, where the second car key can be programmed for inexperienced drivers. It limits the speed, controls the volume of the sound system and stops safety systems such as stability control from being disabled.
The upgraded Focus range goes on sale in October and Ford will be hoping the revised positioning helps reverse a slump that has seen sales of its small car drop by almost 54 per cent to date this year.
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