The 2016 Ford Focus hatch and sedan range will arrive in Australia — at last — in October this year, and the company appears to be making a bold move upmarket.
Unlike the current (non-ST) Ford Focus range, available in four specification levels with three engine choices, the MY16 range will come with three specification options and just one choice of engine — a 1.5-litre EcoBoost turbo-petrol unit with class-leading figures.
The new 1.5 engine punches out 132kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm from 1600 to 5000rpm (7kW/38Nm more than the outgoing 2.0), placing it somewhere in the middle ground between most regular small cars, and more upmarket hot hatches in terms of output.
The new engine is matched to six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions, and consumes between 5.8 litres of 95-98 RON fuel per 100km and 6.4L/100km depending on spec.
The streamlined engine range spells the end of the outgoing line-up that comprised normally-aspirated 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol units, as well as a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel (diesel versions represented just 3.0 per cent of sales). The Euro 1.0-litre three-cylinder option — a multiple International Engine of the Year award winner — will not be offered.
As part of the update, Ford has also trimmed back the spec levels. The Focus can now be had in Trend, Sport and Titanium hatch form (no more base, price-leading Ambiente), while the sedan comes as a Trend or Titanium.
As such, the price of entry grows — the cheapest version, the manual Trend hatch, costs $23,390 plus on-road costs, up $1100 over the outgoing Trend, but a significant $3100 pricier than the current base Ambiente.
This means the Focus range has a higher price of entry than almost any rival — it’s $900 more than a Volkswagen Golf 92TSI. But, given the power on tap, Ford is clearly not chasing entry-level — often meaning fleet — sales. This is perhaps in line with company strategy to focus (sorry for the pun) on margins more than outright volumes for the sake of volumes.
This move upmarket is also reflected in the level of standard features on order. All versions, regardless of spec, get upmarket features such as an eight-inch touchscreen with SYNC 2, a reverse-view camera and satellite navigation.
This is a nice counter-move the Volkswagen, which recently announced that all Golfs would get a standard App-Connect USB interface for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink within a few weeks time.
All versions also get Ford’s MyKey system (not to be confused with Melbourne’s Myki public transport system), that recognises different sets of car keys that are programmed to limit things such as top speed — that’ll keep your P-plater kids in line.
The Sport versions get features such as bigger wheels and racier suspension and a better sound system with DAB+ digital radio, while Titanium versions get high-end safety gear such as low-speed autonomous brakes, perpendicular parking assist and a blind-spot monitor.
The Focus also sports a vastly improved — less button-heavy — cabin design with more upmarket fit-and-finish and extra sound-insulation. Externally, there’s a new grille/headlight design up front and a re-jigged rear end design to boot.
Under the skin, Ford has revised the suspension, particularly by making the front-end stiffer, and re-tuned the shocks. The electric-assisted power steering has been revised, as has the stability control system. We’ll have to wait for our first drive in October to assess these changes.
Most of the Focus range is sourced from Thailand — just like the Fiesta, Ranger and Everest – while the already-on-sale Focus ST update comes from Germany.
The facelifted Focus launch has been some time coming — it was revealed globally in February 2014, though it didn’t actually go on sale anywhere for some time after that.
Ford Australia will no doubt be rapt to have it. Stocks of the current version might be getting slim, and sales are down a whopping 53.8 per cent this year to 4087 units.