Coming next spring

* Price from 16,500-21,000 * 'Better' all round says Ford * On sale March 2011...

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What Car? Staff
28 July 2010

Ford is gearing up to introduce a new, third-generation Focus next spring with the aim of once more establishing a benchmark for compact family hatchbacks.

The original Focus of 1998 blew the competition out of the water when it came to the way it drove, and it went on to become the UKs best-selling car every year until the recession bit in the autumn of 2008. Within Ford, nothing less than a repeat performance will do.

Very different
Its a very different kind of Focus that will hit showrooms in time for the 11 registration plate next March, though. Therell still be a strong emphasis on driver enjoyment, but with greater refinement and comfort. Lower fuel consumption and emissions will play a big part, as will design and grown-up technology luxury and safety options that, until recently, were the preserve of more costly cars.

The car is based on what Ford calls its new C-platform, which will appear first in the new C-Max and Grand C-Max in a few weeks. Eventually therell be 10 vehicles based on these underpinnings, and theyll be sold globally at the rate of two million a year, with only minor regional differences. Volume like this leads to economies of scale that make the kind of technology the new Focus offers more affordable.

Focus vs Astra vs Golf

Focus: If the Focus can outmanoeuvre the Vauxhall Astra or surpass the Volkswagen Golf, its well on the way to domination
Length 4358mm Width 1823mm W/base 2648mm Height 1469mmAstra: The Astra has a spacious, high-quality interior, but it isnt particularly fun to drive and some models are short of kitLength 4420mm Width 1815mm W/base 2685mm Height 1485mm Golf: The Golf is a brilliant all-rounder. Its greatest strength is its fantastic resale value, which makes it a sound private buyLength 4200mm Width 1780mm W/base 2580mm Height 1480mmYoull be able to get electronic cornering control to prevent wheel slip in bends, active cruise control, lane-change and speed limit { warnings, automatic adjustment of the headlight beam and a low-speed anti-collision system like the one currently in Volvos. Therell also be a semi-automatic parallel parking function and new versions of Fords central control system and information screens.

Engine options
The car was mainly designed and engineered in Europe, with teams in the UK doing a large part of the powertrain development. Ford will offer a mixture of 1.6- and 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines with five- or six-speed manual gearboxes, while the 2.0 diesel will offer the option of the paddle-operated semi-auto Powershift transmission.

The line-up will start with revised 103 and 122bhp versions of the 1.6 Duratec petrol engine, but Ford expects a lot of interest in the new Ecoboost 1.6 petrol unit. This turbocharged direct-injection engine will come with either 148 or 178bhp. For the all-important fleet market, therell again be 107bhp 1.6 and 134bhp 2.0 TDCi diesels. Fuel consumption improvements over the outgoing Focus are said to be between 10 and 20%.

From now on, we will establish fuel economy leadership with every new vehicle, says Ford chief engineer Dr Jens Ludmann.

There may no longer be a specific Econetic high-economy/low-CO2 model Ford now prefers to talk about Econetic technologies but things such as engine stop-start, low-rolling-resistance tyres, aerodynamic drag reduction and reduced power loss from the air-conditioning will feature on a wider selection of cars. The new car also adopts electronic power-assisted steering to help save more fuel.

Fleet customers may be prepared to look at a hair-shirted eco-model, but private buyers want economy and low CO2 in a high-specification car that they want to drive, says Ford of Britain marketing director Mark Simpson.