Fo­cus will be on Ford’s new fam­ily car

Irish Examiner - - Motoring - De­clan Col­ley

IT IS prob­a­bly the sin­gle most im­por­tant new car to be launched this year and for Ford the ar­rival in Ire­land next month of the new Fo­cus range is a wel­come op­por­tu­nity to re­claim what the com­pany would see as lost ground to ri­vals such as VW, Toy­ota and Hyundai.

With Ford’s sales fig­ures down some 7.9% year-on-year, the ar­rival of a new Fo­cus, which de­liv­ers more style, space and ad­vanced driv­ing tech­nolo­gies than ever be­fore, is go­ing to be a mas­sive shot in the arm for the Blue Oval — not just in Ire­land, but glob­ally too.

With prices start­ing from €24,900 when the car goes on sale here next month, stal­wart cus­tomers — of whom there are very many — will un­doubt­edly be very anx­ious to get their hands on the fourth gen­er­a­tion of a car which has been at the top of its mar­ket seg­ment since we first saw one in 1998.

Fo­cus, of course, rev­o­lu­tionised the mid-sized fam­ily car mar­ket when it first came out and the aim of the new car is to keep its nose ahead of the com­pet­ing posse with such good­ies as a com­pre­hen­sive range of ad­vanced driv­ing tech­nolo­gies.

It goes with­out say­ing that the char­ac­ter­is­tics which stood the Fo­cus out from the out­set — in­de­pen­dent all round sus­pen­sion, ul­tra-nim­ble han­dling, roomi­ness and prac­ti­cal­ity — are all still part of the pack­age.

Ford says its en­gi­neers col­lab­o­rated closely with car-buy­ers to de­velop the all-new Fo­cus five-door hatch­back and even more prac­ti­cal Fo­cus wagon mod­els in dis­tinc­tive ver­sions, each with their own per­son­al­ity — in­clud­ing the stylish Fo­cus Ti­ta­nium, sporty Fo­cus ST-Line and up­scale Fo­cus Vig­nale.

An all-new Fo­cus Ac­tive cross­over model, ar­riv­ing here early in 2019, fea­tures rugged sports util­ity ve­hi­cle-in­spired styling that in­cludes raised ride­height, roof bars and ad­di­tional cladding to give Ford a pres­ence in a grow­ing mar­ket niche.

Speak­ing at the launch in France this week, Joe Bakaj, Ford Europe’s vi­cepres­i­dent of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, made the lofty pledge that the new Fo­cus is the pin­na­cle of tech­nol­ogy and driv­ing ap­peal in its seg­ment.

“The chance to build a com­pletely new car from a fresh piece of paper does not come around of­ten. We grabbed it with both hands, to de­velop the best mid-size fam­ily car that money can buy,” Bakaj com­mented.

And what of the new car it­self? Well, it has the most aero­dy­namic sil­hou­ette in its class. The new shape is ath­letic and dy­namic with a long bon­net and mus­cu­lar rear haunches and each model is dif­fer­en­ti­ated with unique el­e­ments in­clud­ing satin alu­minium details for the Vig­nale ex­te­rior; large spoiler and open front aper­tures for the ST-Line; and, con­trast sil­ver front and rear skid plates for the Ac­tive.

In­side, sim­ple, clean lines are the or­der of the day and Ford has also ramped up the ap­peal with soft touch ma­te­ri­als aimed at de­liv­er­ing a more pre­mium feel.

High-end con­sumer prod­uct de­sign is re­flected with pol­ished glass and brushed fin­ishes. Unique fea­tures and ma­te­ri­als in­clude fine-grain wood-ef­fect fin­ishes and pre­mium leather for Vig­nale, sporty car­bon fi­bre-ef­fect fin­ishes and red stitch­ing for the ST-Line, and more rugged, tex­tured ma­te­ri­als and sur­faces for the Ac­tive.

The new car also pro­vides more space in­side for pas­sen­gers and lug­gage. More than 5cm ad­di­tional length be­tween the front and rear wheels al­lows class-lead­ing knee clear­ance for rear seat pas­sen­gers, and oc­cu­pants ben­e­fit from the wider in­te­rior — there’s 6cm more shoul­der room in the rear.

The im­pres­sion of spa­cious­ness is en­hanced with a rear door de­sign fea­tur­ing win­dows that stretch fur­ther back for a more open sen­sa­tion, and an open­able panoramic roof that lets light flood in.

With the wagon model, ac­cess to the boot space is easy, us­ing a sim­ple kick­ing mo­tion un­der the rear bumper to open the hands-free tail­gate.

On the tech front the new Fo­cus will boast many new ad­vanced driver as­sis­tance tech­nolo­gies make driv­ing it eas­ier and are also de­signed to make the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence more com­fort­able, less de­mand­ing and safer.

Stuff like adap­tive cruise con­trol, stop and go, sign recog­ni­tion, lane-cen­tring will be avail­able, as will adap­tive front lights (which also have Ford’s pre­dic­tive light curve and sign-based light tech­nolo­gies) with a glare free high beam, while a head-up dis­play sys­tem will also be of­fered. The safety sys­tems are also many and var­ied.

The en­gines avail­able will in­clude Ford’s multi-award-win­ning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol en­gine 125 PS — fur­ther en­hanced to de­liver from 4.8 l/ 100 km fuel ef­fi­ciency and 108 g/km CO2, while Ford’s new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel 120 PS en­gine will de­liver from 3.6 l/100 km fuel ef­fi­ciency and 94 g/km CO2. There will also be a choice of a man­ual six-speed trans­mis­sion or a new eight-speed au­to­matic.

The new range is also bet­ter con­nected and in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cles can be trans­formed into a mo­bile WiFi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 de­vices.

A new wire­less charg­ing pad for com­pat­i­ble smart­phones is also part of the pack­age as is Ford’s im­pres­sive SYNC 3 com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem, which is com­pat­i­ble with Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto and also al­lows driv­ers to con­trol au­dio, nav­i­ga­tion and cli­mate func­tions plus con­nected smart­phones.

More com­plete pric­ing de­tail will be is­sued when the car ar­rives in Ire­land, but for now be as­sured that Ford is right back in the game with this car and its com­peti­tors will cer­tainly be look­ing over their col­lec­tive shoul­ders.

The highly an­tic­i­pated fourth gen­er­a­tion of the Ford Fo­cus will go on sale in Ire­land next month with prices start­ing from €24,900; it de­liv­ers more style, space and ad­vanced driv­ing tech­nolo­gies than ever be­fore.

The in­te­rior of the new Ford Fo­cus: Sim­ple, clean lines are the or­der of the day and Ford has also ramped up the ap­peal with soft touch ma­te­ri­als to de­liver a more pre­mium feel.

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