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by Tim Beissmann

Ford has previewed a sleeker and more sporty version of its brand new global Focus small car at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit today.

Production of the four-door sedan and five-door hatch will begin in Europe and North America late this year for an early 2011 launch, with delivery to South American, African, Asian and Australian markets to follow soon after.

Ford US President and CEO, Alan Mulally, confirmed the new Focus will be nearly identical in all 122 world markets in which it will eventually be sold, with 80 percent parts commonality.

“The new Ford Focus is a clear demonstration that our ONE Ford strategy is providing global consumers with great products that harness the best of Ford Motor Company.

“The efficiencies generated by our new global C-car platform will enable us to provide Ford Focus customers with an affordable product offering quality, fuel efficiency, safety and technology beyond their expectations,” Mr Mulally said.

The model on display at NAIAS features a new 2.0-litre direct injection petrol engine with twin independent variable camshaft timing. An electric version with an anticipated driving range of 130 to 160km will also join the line-up in selected markets before 2012.

Power from the new inline-4 is estimated to be around 115kw/197Nm (up by 8kW/12Nm over the outgoing model) while Ford is projecting fuel economy gains of more than 10 percent.

The display model is mated to the latest six-speed dual-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission, which alone can help reduce fuel consumption by up to 9 percent, while offering improved refinement and driving ease.

An automatic stop-start function will also be available on the Focus to further improve fuel efficiency.

The car’s dimensions (length, weight, interior space) are believed to be similar to the current model, while the body structure comprises 55 percent high-strength steels and more than 26 percent ultra-high-strength and boron steels.

Torsional rigidity of the body shell is 25 percent greater than the current North American Focus.

Steering precision and feel is said to be improved by the addition of electric power assist, which also has fuel efficiency benefits.

Dynamic Cornering Control – similar to torque vectoring systems applied to all-wheel drive Audis and BMWs – will be fitted to the front-wheel drive Focus which should improve handling balance and reduce understeer.

An eight inch navigation screen will be an option inside with the new MyFord Touch control system appearing in the Focus before most other Ford models.

Visually, the styling draws on previous “Kinetic” designs, the sedan sharing much with the Mondeo and Iosis concept and the hatch similar to the smaller Fiesta and Verve concept.

The sedan’s profile is highlighted by the Z-shaped “Zorro Flips” which define the waistline and strengthen the pumped wheel arches.

The front lights are an evolution of the current European Focus model, while the trapezoidal and triangular grille shapes have taken a new, sharper direction.

The rear of the sedan is very Mondeo, with the lights are reminiscent of the Lancer hatchback.

The five-door version abandons the traditional pillar-mounted lights for more robust, flowing red rear lamps.

The interior is all-new, headlined by vertical air vents and large display screens, making for a fresher, neater overall appearance.

Ford’s current development and design philosophy is: “Great to look at, great to sit in, great to drive”.

We’ll know in a little over a year’s time how close they’ve come.




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