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The Ford Focus is an automobile made by the Ford Motor Company and sold in most Ford markets worldwide. It was launched in 1998 in Europe, and in 2000 in North America. Since then it has become the most popular car in the United Kingdom, following in the success of the Escort, its predecessor. A new version of the Focus was launched in Europe in January of 2005 while the United States received an updated version of the old model.
Unlike previous Fords in the North American market, the Pinto and the Escort, no luxury Mercury version is available.
In Australia, New Zealand, Japan and other countries in the region, it replaced the Laser, based on the Mazda 323 (called the Mazda Protege in some markets).
Focus Mk I
Codenamed CW170 during its development, the original Focus took its name from a Ghia concept car which was shown in 1991. Initial spy photographs of the car seen in 1995 took the world by storm at the design's apparent boldness - further developing Ford's "New Edge" styling philosophy first seen in the Ka and Cougar. The daring styling made it largely unchanged into production metal three years later.
Mechanically it drew heavily from other European Ford models, using a sophisticated fully independent multi-link rear suspension (dubbed "Control Blade") derived from the Short-Long Arm system used in the Mondeo station wagon, giving the Focus class leading handling and ride. The engines used are the well-proven Zetec and Zetec-SE units, with the Endura diesel (a development of the old Deutz-designed motor which Ford had been using since the 1980s), although the Duratorq unit replaced this in 2002.
The Focus, like the 1st generation Ford Mondeo, was a "world car", which saw Ford co-ordinate and pool its resources from all over the globe. Like the Mondeo, however, most of the design and engineering work took place in Europe. The Focus is arguably the biggest indication of the change in Ford's design and engineering philosophy. After the Ford Escort (European) Mk IV was criticised by the motoring press as being designed by the "bean counters" and for its mediocre ride, handling and quality, Ford decided to take more risks in its replacement. As a result the Focus had bold styling, increased quality and critically-acclaimed handling and refinement.
It is produced by factories in Saarlouis, Germany; Valencia, Spain; Hermosillo, Mexico; Pacheco, Argentina; and Wayne, Michigan in the U.S. Knocked down kits are supplied for assembly to Vsevolzhsk near Saint Petersburg, Russia.
In 1999 Ford revealed its first version for the World Rally Championship: the Focus WRC. Subsequent variants followed, piloted by such men as Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Markko Martin and Francois Duval. The next version of the Focus WRC will hit the special stages on the Rally Australia later this year.
Bodies (offerings vary by market)
In the USA, the four body styles are coded with a ZXx designation.
The US version of the 5 door wagon Focus ZXW achieves 26 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway. (Manual transmission, quoting US gallons.)
Sales and history
In Europe, the hatchback is the biggest selling bodystyle. Ford attempted to market the sedan version in Europe as a mini-executive car by only offering it in the Ghia trim level, something that it had tried before with the Orion of the 1980s. It has since given up on this strategy, and has started selling lower specified versions of the sedan.
Despite its radical styling (the hatchback version in particular), and some controversial safety recalls in North America, the car has been a runaway success across the globe, even in the United States, where Ford has traditionally failed to successfully sell its European models.
This was the best-selling car in the world in 2000 and 2001. It was elected Car of the Year in 1999. The Focus won the North American Car of the Year award for 2000. In Europe, the original had a very subtle facelift in 2001.
Interestingly, unlike the Escort, the Focus was never offered in a panel van body style. Ford was therefore left without a light duty commercial vehicle when the Escort finally went out of production in 2000. The purpose-designed Transit Connect, introduced in 2002 largely served as its replacement. A convertible version was another notable omission, although there is talk of producing a drop-top version of the Mk.II for Europe.
In the US spec models, despite a series of major recalls early in the car's life , reliability has steadily been improving. In fact, there have been no Focus recalls in the United States since 2002 . The Focus now at Ford dealerships has Consumer Reports Best in Class rating for small cars . The car has also received a Consumers Digest Best Buy Rating, an award that takes numerous factors into consideration, including reliability and recall history.
The European Focus would also suffer from some recall issues, but in 2002, according to German reports and surveys, the Focus was claimed to be the most reliable car between 1 to 3 years old on the German car market . This was a remarkable feat as the Focus was competing against German prestige manufacturers as well as Japanese manufacturers, all of which have strong reputations for quality and reliability.
USA Focus Mk II
In North America, a major facelift occurred for the 2005 model year, but on the old CW170 platform. Ford has apparently decided that a completely new car would not be profitable in this heavily price- and incentive-driven market.
The US Ford Focus fits smallest into a line of sedans (smallest to largest) by Ford:
European Focus Mk II
The Focus Mk II, codenamed C307, uses a new platform called C1 shared with the Volvo S40, Mazda 3 and Focus C-Max. It was launched at the Paris Motor Show on September 23, 2004 as a three and five door hatchback and a station wagon. The four-door sedan version was previewed as a concept developed by Ford Australia at the Beijing Motor Show in mid-2004 and joined the range after the hatchbacks.
This new Focus is also built in South Africa for export to Australia and New Zealand.
Engines and Chassis
The engine line-up for the Mk II is a mixture of old and new, with the Zetec petrol engines of the original having been superseded by the newer Duratec range. The 1.4 L and 1.6L (100bhp and Ti-VCT 115bhp) units, although named "Duratec", are in fact revised versions of the old Zetec-SE units, while the 2.0 L versions are the Mazda-derived Duratec-HE units. The PSA-developed Duratorq Diesel engine in 1.6L 100bhp and 110bhp editions, Ford's own 'Lynx' Duratorq 1.8L 115hp diesel carried over from the previous model and Ford's own "Puma" Duratorq diesel in 2.0 L form rounds off the range. Coming soon, however, is the 2.5 L 5 cylinder Volvo-derived engine for the upcoming Focus ST.
The basic suspension design has been carried over largely unchanged from the Mk I, although Ford claims that the stiffer bodyshell further improves the Focus' handling.
The Focus Mk II is larger than its Mk I predecessor with a 25 mm (1 in) increase in wheelbase, 168 mm (6.6 in) longer, 8 mm (0.3 in) taller and 138 mm (5.4 in) wider. As a result the interior and boot space has increased. The car has a more Italianate feel in its exterior styling. New technologies include a KeyFree system, a solar-reflect windshield, adaptive front lighting, Bluetooth hands-free phones and voice control for audio, telephone and climate control systems. The interior and dashboard are made from far higher quality plastics than before, and the overall feeling of solidity of the car has been increased markedly in a deliberate attempt to emulate the standards set by the VW Golf. It also featured either Durashift 6-speed manual, Durashift 4-speed automatic transmission or the all-new Durashift advanced manual transmission or just the standard manual.
Stylistically, the Mk II's bodystyling has been criticised by the motoring press for what some perceive as a lack of flair, originality and boldness of its predecessor. Interestingly the new car uses styling features from the abandoned B-Proposal for the original Focus which were never signed off for production. The interior design has not faced such harsh criticism with many journalists believing it represents a significant improvement through more sober styling and better quality plastics than the ageing first generation design.
The new car has gained the best ever Euro NCAP ratings for its class, beating such contenders as the Renault Megane and Volkswagen Golf.
Dynamically, the Focus is still held in high regard by the motoring press. Although the latest generation Opel/Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf have much improved handling (over their respective predecessors), the Focus is still regarded as the class-leader in ride and handling, even over its mechanically similar Mazda3 cousin.
There is much talk about a cabiolet version, named the Vignale, designed with Pininfarina and due to be lauched in 2006. The vehicle will have a metal folding roof. Another model to watch out for in 2005 is the Focus ST. It uses the same powerplant from the Volvo S40 T5, a turbocharged 2.5 L engine with 5 cylinder capable of achieving 220 hp DIN (162 kW).
The North American version has been a favorite of Car and Driver magazine, which has elected it to its Ten Best list every year since its introduction in 2000 . Motor Trend magazine has also given the Focus favorable reviews, writing comments like "As entry-level sedans go, few can touch Ford's Focus on the fun-to-drive front" .
In 2001 and 2002, Focus was the world's best selling car.
Auto Express, in 2005, hailed the European Focus Mk II "Supreme Champion" in its New Car of the Year awards. The Focus also won the subcategory of Best Compact Family Car in the same awards.