It’s hard to ignore the importance of a car which sold 1.1 million units in 2013, with over 87,000 examples registered in the UK alone. The Focus is a perennial best-seller for Ford, and the revised version is likely to be no different. Ford also promises it’s even better to drive, which sounds hopeful for a potential RS version. So, what’s new?
First things first; this isn’t an all new car, it’s a restyled version of the Mk3 Focus first introduced in 2011. However, Ford is at pains to stress that it’s more than just cosmetic enhancements, and this revised version adds mechanical and interior changes too.
But let’s deal with the obvious bits first; just what has changed on the outside? The new trapezoidal grille is an obvious starter, with the Aston Martin style chrome item making its appearance as first shown on the Fiesta last year. Does it work? Well, yeah, but if EngageSportMode is being truly honest it actually preferred the front end of the previous car. Perhaps it’s over-familiarity with the outgoing model, or the way in which it’s captured in these press photos, but it does look a little bit bling on this range-topping Titanium version. In the flesh, alongside the revised front bumper, headlights and fog-lights, it’ll maybe make more sense.
ESM has its own theory that, with the ‘green-shoots’ of economic recovery starting to show through, Ford has decided the time is right to stick a flash grille on the front of its flagship hatchback. But, more likely, it’s just adhering to a corporate design policy to give its models a familiar face under the One Ford global design language.
The rear end also gets a new look, with a cleaner tailgate design, bumper and tail lights. We’re struggling to spot the difference with the new rear lights, but Ford assures us that they’re different. For some they still polarise opinion, but ESM will admit to having never been particularly offended by the tail lamps on the third generation Focus. Two new colours join the fray, with the very Ford looking Deep Impact Blue pictured on the hatchback above, with the subtler Glace Blue shown on the estate model below.
Whilst the changes outside may be relatively subtle, under the skin of the revised Focus hides a number of important changes. Not least the revised interior which, Ford claims, is simpler and easier to use. Having experienced the outgoing model’s complex maze of buttons and switches – in fact it was our only real criticism of the Focus ST – the promise of a more intuitive dashboard is welcome. Even from the photos it already looks cleaner, with black satin and chrome detailing adding a more upmarket touch. Perhaps the biggest news, for EngageSportMode at least, is the replacement of that four-spoke steering wheel with a far better looking three-spoke item. Hurrah!
On the road Ford promises that the updated Focus will add a more ‘connected-to-the-road’ feeling which some believed was lacking on the Mk3’s first offering. Compared to the previous two generations, commentators felt it lacked the dynamism which had set it out as a class leader. Blue Oval engineers have apparently worked hard to add back in the fun factor, with revised suspensions settings, increased front-end rigidity, modified dampers and reworked Electronic Power Assist Steering. That Ford has even gone to the trouble of ‘increasing lateral stiffness of “steering-relevant” suspension bushes’ is perhaps an example of just how hard the firm has worked to try to reclaim the status of best in class to drive.
A veritable raft’s worth of new technology finds its way into the updated Focus, such as the Active City Stop collision avoidance system which now works from a higher speed. The Active Park Assist – which can find spaces and parallel park in them gets enhancements to help the driver get out of the space again. Probably only fair when the Focus got the driver in there in the first place! Cross Traffic Alert also works to warn of oncoming traffic when a driver is reversing blind out of a parking space; possible through the addition of additional ultrasonic sensors.
Engine technology also gets updated, with an all-new 1.5 litre EcoBoost petrol turbo engine, in 150 and 180 PS flavours, joining the range. A diesel 1.5 TDCi unit, with standard PowerShift automatic gearbox, will be added in 2015, with 120 PS and the promise of a 19% efficiency improvement compared to the existing 1.6 TDCi engine.
Due to be officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show – of course – the updated Focus will go on sale later in the year. No mention has been made of changes to the award-winning ST version, but we’ll assume it still exists and will get the same revisions. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we’d expect it to maintain the same competitive level as the current model. We’ll have to wait and see just how good the updated model is, but we’ve got high hopes for the facelifted Focus here at ESM.