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La Collection Focus: Ford Chooses Paris for World Premiere of the New Ford Focus

One of the keys to Ford’s C1 platform strategy is production of the company’s compact car badge - the Focus. In addition to several Mazdas, the Volvo S40 and V50, the platform will also be utilized for this all-new Focus range. Unfortunately for North American buyers, they’ll have to continue buying an updated version of the old Focus, as the U.S. and Canada will not see these new models according to sources within the industry.

Ford of Europe is introducing the all-new Ford Focus to the world’s media and the French public at the 2004 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris.

Ford’s theme for the show, appropriately, is La Collection Focus.

La Collection Focus debuts the all-new model as an entire family of vehicles. New 3-door, 5-door and wagon versions of the dynamic and stylish new Focus family will be revealed alongside the Ford Focus C-MAX, which the comprehensive new Focus family clearly embraces. A stylish new 4-door Focus is also previewed prior to its launch in early 2005.

“It is difficult to overstate the importance to Ford of the all-new Focus,” said Lewis Booth, Chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe. “This is true not just for Europe but also globally as the new Focus is central to Ford’s plans in the rapidly growing Asian Pacific markets.

“The presentation of La Collection Focus in Paris is the first opportunity for the public to assess the new model and appreciate the unique blend of style, craftsmanship and affordable, relevant technologies that the new Focus family delivers.” Booth added.

After six years and 4 million sales worldwide, the original Focus is still one of Europe’s top-selling cars and a benchmark for quality of driving and ownership experience in its class. The next generation model aims to deliver more: maturing in terms of involving and engaging its driver, while providing improvements for all occupants in terms of quality, craftsmanship, packaging and refinement.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW FORD FOCUS RANGE

EXTERIOR DESIGN: A DISTINCTIVE PROFILE

Sleek and sculpted lines flow across the new Focus range guaranteeing that, regardless of bodystyle, all models share a common design DNA.

The new model is unmistakably a Focus, retaining the original model’s spirit of individuality from the rest of its segment – with a fast, coupe-like profile for the 3-door and 5-door models and the sporty new wagon.

“Our target was to build a coherent and distinctive family of derivatives that would be successful designs in their own right,” said Chris Bird, Director of Design, Ford of Europe.

Slightly larger than its predecessor, the new Focus has a more muscular stance – highlighted by flared wheel arches that are more prominent and yet more integrated into the overall design. It appears to be hugging the road even when at a standstill, while the bold lines of Ford’s ‘family’ radiator grille, headlights and air dam – shared with Focus C-MAX – give the new Focus a purposeful personality.

Sitting lower than on any other Ford vehicle, the ‘family’ nose is steeply raked. From it the key lines of the body structures sweep up towards the rear – creating a hunched and athletic profile. From the low, wide styling of the nose, a power bulge arches back from the radiator grille to the A-pillars, set off with prominent ‘cheekbones’ that are shared by all Focus models.

“The profile features two distinctive lines,” said Bird. “First is the sharp crease that comes very tightly around the front wheel arch and actually runs the full length of the vehicle, which I believe expresses a ‘milled out of solid metal’ look. Secondly, the very sharp line from the centre of the nose back over the whole length of the vehicle that highlights the fast lines of the A-pillar and the C-pillar across the range of body styles.”

Moving the front pillar forward 100mm in a steeper angle generates space and has a positive impact on crash protection, while from an external sculpting point of view it allowed the designers to give the new Focus family its unique silhouette.

Visually the most dramatic and obvious difference between Focus and its competitors is at the rear. Through ingenious packaging of the components beneath, Ford has innovated in creating a very fast profile at the rear, which allows the 3-door to look believable as a coupé as well as being a full-value 5-seater – a silhouette which is shared elegantly by the 5-door model.

The wagon embodies this sporting sculpture, bringing a new elegance and purposeful stance to what remains an extremely functional and space efficient design. Claudio Messale, Chief Designer of the new Focus, says it incorporates “a little Italian flair” of its own.

“As with the 3-door and 5-door models, we were able to achieve this because the centreline of the wagon is relatively upright, which not only forms the basis for the exterior sculpture but also allows for a large luggage compartment within the styling of the car,” Messale said. “There was no compromise in what is now a functional yet very stylish vehicle.”

The sharp and sporting lines of the front and rear pillars give the new Focus its bold personality, every bit as dynamic as its predecessor but in a more refined and integrated manner. From within those lines the cockpit feel of the driving environment is nurtured, while still increasing the real world space available to driver and passengers.

“It is an entirely new way of looking at Focus but it remains clearly a Focus nonetheless, balancing that sportiness with functionality and practical daily living,” said Chris Bird. “The body section is undoubtedly the fullest in the class, which allows us to create very successful derivatives. We have exactly the same overall length and wheelbase with the Focus as we do with the Focus C-MAX – very different designs that are still instantly recognisable as Fords with the high rear lamps, the solid-looking surfaces and premium quality appeal.”

PREVIEWING THE FOCUS 4-DOOR: A SLEEK NEW ELEGANCE

Completing the range of body styles in the new Focus family, and being previewed at the Paris Motor Show, is the Focus 4-door. This model will go into production early in 2005.

The new Focus 4-door fully shares the dynamic and confident design DNA of the other members of the Focus family, creating an elegant yet modern shape that invigorates the traditional compact sedan market.

“The 4-door has benefited greatly from the approach we have taken at the front of the car,” said Bird. “The bonnet flares out gracefully into the faster, elongated A-pillars, which in turn lead the flowing line back over the roof back to a very fast C-pillar that integrates a class-leading luggage compartment into a very elegant car that will definitely widen its appeal.”

Messale said the new design was driven by customer expectations. “Today’s customer is more sophisticated and demanding, and new Focus was designed with the understanding that the tiniest touch can make the difference in executions. This is particularly true of the 4-door, for although a lot of people in Europe don’t want a big car they do want something with status. The new Focus 4-door demonstrates that Ford can create an elegant car with fresh thinking.”

The new model shares the full body sectioning of the new family and the Focus-signature “uptick” in the side window graphic. Iconic Focus styling at the rear of the new 4-door includes the sculpted licence plate recess and upper trim detail, while new rear light clusters mirror the lines of the headlights. A wide bootlid tapers gracefully to a recess in the rear bumper that provides an extremely low lift-over height into the generous boot.

The new Ford Focus 4-door has been designed to meet the needs and aspirations of not only Europeans but a rapidly increasing number of Asian customers.

The new Focus 4-door will play a key role in Ford’s growing commitment to what is fast becoming the world’s most dynamic and exciting market place – China and the Asia Pacific region. Medium sized 4-door passenger cars are at the core of these major markets, which now form the epicentre of global growth for the automotive industry.

“Cars developed by Ford of Europe are pivotal in the company’s strategy to compete successfully and expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific and African markets,” Booth said. “Our role promises to increase dramatically, and the new Focus 4-door model is paving the way.”

INTERIOR CRAFTSMANSHIP: PREMIUM ENVIRONMENT

“Delivering a premium quality driving environment was of prime importance,” said Adrian Whittle, Ford Focus Chief Programme Engineer. “Inside the car this is borne out by the ‘cockpit’ driving position, the ‘flow-through’ instrument panel and console design and the use of carefully selected high quality materials. The goal was consistent: to give the driver an environment that communicated the Focus DNA. The Focus is still a real driver’s car!”

The philosophy that sculpted the original Focus interior has matured with a graceful unity. Sights, sounds and textures all play a part in delivering the new range’s interior refinements, but the interior of the new Focus remains a vibrant environment which sees an injection of colour.

Rich, bright blue is a new interior environment feature on Sport and Titanium models. Combined with a medium light stone colour in the lower half of the interior, the blue tone gives the Focus interior a warm and airy feel. Black remains an option on all models. The Focus interior and exterior colour teams worked closely together to ensure colour compatibility in the array of customer choices and series offerings, which now include five levels: Ambiente, Trend, Sport, Ghia and Titanium.

“In the past, premium quality finish has gone hand-in-hand with exclusive cost, but with the new Focus we are providing that same quality at an affordable cost and making the feeling of exclusivity more accessible,” said Mick McDonagh, Manager, Interior System Engineering.

The new Focus instantly reflects its design team’s attention to the feel of the interior, both in terms of the look and feel of the materials used in the touch zones and the ambience created by the design, which very naturally forms the impression of each area being specifically fitted around the occupants. All interior materials in the new Focus range meet strict allergy-testing standards based upon TÜV (Toxproof) criteria – as does Focus C-MAX.

ADVANCED FEATURES: AFFORDABLE, RELEVANT TECHNOLOGIES

Focus also introduces several new technologies to the Ford range that are developed with an emphasis on relevance and affordability for customers, including:

• KeyFree System – interacting directly with the car to unlock it without fumbling.

• Solar Reflect Windshield – blocking nearly five times the level of solar radiation as standard tinted glass, significantly improving the efficiency of air conditioning.

• Adaptive Front Lighting System – technology that guides headlight beams in line with the front wheels. Ford’s approach uses halogen rather than xenon lamps, making the option less expensive and thereby affordable for a broader range of customers.

• Blue Tooth™ Hands Free Phones – wireless technology that allows the connection of mobile telephones without compatibility issues.

• Voice Control – hands-free command of audio, telephone, climate control, in-car entertainment and navigation systems.

• In-Car Entertainment – optimised Ford systems are available throughout the range of series, with premium sound systems by Sony, featuring either a 6-disc in-dash changer or an MP3-capable single disc CD player with four 20-watt premium speakers that deliver a characteristic “Sony Sound”.

• Rear Seat Entertainment – MP3-enabled independent audio system available, with high-mounted screen for DVD or games consoles provided in the wagon.

DRIVING QUALITY: BUILDING ON SUCCESS

The new Focus has been engineered to build on the dynamic capabilities of the original – carrying on the tradition of providing an ultra-stiff body shell, enhanced Control Blade rear suspension and stiff, new front chassis subframe – while making strides in comfort and refinement, including reduced noise and enhanced sound quality in a spacious cabin environment.

A longer wheelbase (by 25mm) and wider track (by 40mm) than its predecessor give the new Focus a sure-footed stance and an improved interior package. Knee room and shoulder room are more generous, and, despite the ‘fast’ shape of the new Focus’s roofline and rear decklid, rear-seat headroom remains generous and luggage capacity has been expanded by 10 per cent over the previous model to 385 litres.

Ergonomically the new Focus invites drivers to make themselves at home, from the high quality instrument panel to the centre console, which is very much the hub of the interior design. The interior’s ‘cockpit feel’ conveys the sense that the car is wrapped around its occupants and that everything they want is where it should be.

Focus engineers worked to lock out unwanted intrusions from wind noise and road rumble. The serenity of the driving environment is immediately clear, with 20 per cent thicker front door side glass, double door seals and lightweight foam insulation in the engine compartment and rear body cavities all working together to isolate unwanted environmental noise. Wind noise has been cut by 20 per cent on the road, making for class-leading performance, particularly in difficult wind conditions.

From the moment the engine is started, the absence of vibration in the seat, steering wheel and gear lever is tangible in both Duratec petrol and Duratorq TDCi diesel variants. The car settles quickly into its low speed purr through the advanced insulation and tuning of the exhaust, intake and engine mounts.

On the move, the driver senses refinement, in which the engine sound is accompanied by much reduced road noise – even over rough or broken road surfaces – thanks to stiffer suspension attachments and rigorous development of the body and chassis systems.

Driving quality has been a Focus trademark from the beginning. The new Focus extends that strength to encompass the entire driving experience. Enhancements under the skin build on seven years of experience with the Control Blade rear suspension, and a stiff, new front subframe is the foundation for chassis elements that have undergone extensive tuning.

“To establish a benchmark for best-in-class agility, precision, comfort and stability, we evaluated the strongest ride and handling characteristics of the competitors,” said Jürgen Pützschler, Supervisor, Vehicle Dynamics. “It quickly became clear that the best benchmark was still the original Focus.”

Drivers will appreciate enhancements in comfort that have been achieved in the new Focus without sacrificing its signature agility, stability and precise reaction to steering inputs. The new chassis has been engineered to provide high levels of vibration isolation and stable, confidence-enhancing body control, making it reassuringly comfortable even on coarse roads.

The Focus body structure also plays a major role in the car’s driving quality. It has been engineered with a 10 per cent increase in torsional stiffness over its class-leading predecessor.

Electric-hydraulic power-assisted steering (EHPAS), on all but 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre Duratec petrol engine-equipped models, makes low speed manoeuvres easier while preserving precision on the open road. Larger diameter brakes also provide more ‘feel’, enhanced emergency stopping power and longer brake pad life.

BODY STRUCTURE: PREMIUM CONSTRUCTION

Robustness and manufacturing quality, attributes for which the Focus C-MAX has already been recognised, flow through the sculpture and engineering of the entire Focus family. Enhanced safety and premium build quality feature as strongly in the new Focus range as the class-leading dynamic prowess customers have come to expect.

Much of Ford’s commitment to raising standards of quality – led by a robust body structure that provides solidity and security – will be unseen by the customer. Minute attention to detail has been applied to the car’s construction, with analytical build-ups of the vehicle in both digital and physical form allowing further refinement and tuning of the build process.

Technicians at Ford assembly plants in Saarlouis, Germany, and Valencia, Spain, who delivered 3 million European Ford Focuses with award-winning build quality, have refined their processes with lessons from the first Focus and the Focus C-MAX.

Laser sighting and laser welding, state-of-the-art robot construction, specialist techniques and the latest technology, such as X-ray checking of welds, help give the new Focus exemplary build quality: panel gaps have been reduced to 3.5mm throughout the vehicle, with tolerances cut by one third to just 1mm.

FOCUS SAFETY: NO COMPROMISE

Throughout the bodystyle range, the new Focus has a structure that was designed to protect its occupants within a lightweight and highly efficient survival cell. It is constructed from variable-gauge laser-welded panels of high strength steel.

Both the occupant cell and surrounding envelope of energy absorbing crush zones have been rigorously tested in virtual and physical form, verified by the most powerful computers in the industry and tested in the state-of-the-art Volvo Safety Centre in Sweden.

Crash load paths through the body structure have been optimised for maximum energy absorption outside the passenger environment, both in straight frontal impacts against a rigid barrier and in offset crashes. More crush space has been achieved by a controlled detaching of stiff chassis components from the body structure underfloor, which allows the impact energy to pass beneath the rigid passenger cell, reducing the deceleration values for the occupants and avoiding deformation of the underfloor structure.

The structure includes such features as new compression members inside the door waist to reduce the A-pillar and instrument panel beam deformation and a new straight cross-car beam bolted between the A-pillars, which is designed to stabilise the body side structure and minimise the intrusion of the steering column and pedals.

Focus is equipped with standard front air bags and optional thorax-protecting side air bags and inflatable side curtains, which deploy between the A and C pillars to provide protection in the event of a side impact.

POWERTRAINS: A WEALTH OF CHOICE

The new Focus pioneers Ford’s new 115 PS, 1.6-litre Duratec Ti-VCT engine – with twin independent variable camshaft technology – as part of a comprehensive powertrain line-up.

Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) improves airflow through the engine and delivers more torque while reducing average fuel consumption by up to 5 per cent. The new Duratec Ti-VCT augments the Focus family’s broad petrol engine range that also includes 16-valve engines in displacements of 1.4 litres (80 PS), 1.6 litres (100 PS) and 2.0 litres (145 PS).

Focus also offers advanced, Duratorq TDCi high-pressure common-rail diesel engines. The range features 1.6-litre (109 PS) and 2.0-litre (136 PS) Duratorq TDCi choices, which made their debut in the Focus C-MAX. These lightweight, low-friction engines offer an optimal balance between strong torque at low engine speeds for smooth responsive driving fun and low fuel consumption – the 2.0-litre unit benefiting from Ford’s six-speed manual transmission. To meet and surpass emissions requirements both diesel engines will be available with a Diesel Particulate Filter.

Ford’s new Durashift CVT Continuously Variable Transmission is available on models powered by the 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi engine. Developed by Ford with ZF Transmissions, the Durashift CVT can switch between fully automatic and seven-speed manual selection. It cuts fuel consumption by up to 8 per cent over traditional four- or five-speed automatics. Focus also offers Durashift 5- and 6-speed manual transmissions and the Durashift 4-speed automatic.

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM FORD AT PARIS:

Flanking La Collection Focus during the second press day and all public days of the 2004 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris are a number of fresh products from Ford’s other car lines, including Mondeo, Fiesta and Fusion. New Transit technology is featured in a separate commercial vehicle exhibit. Among the highlights are:

EXCITING FIESTA ST PREVIEWED

The new Ford Fiesta ST, an exciting new arrival to Ford’s stable of affordable performance cars, appears at Paris prior to its introduction at the end of 2004. Developed by Ford’s TeamRS and powered by a 150PS Duratec engine, the new Fiesta ST promises to offer the best all-around package in its class with unrivalled driving dynamics to impress performance enthusiasts. “It is simply so much fun you just don’t want to stop driving it,” said Nick Collins, project leader for TeamRS.

AFFORDABLE NEW FIESTA S

The Fiesta range gains another sporting derivative with the announcement of the new Fiesta S (for ‘Sport’), the new baby brother to Fiesta ST. The Fiesta S shares visual and dynamic features with its faster sibling but has its own personality with a unique chassis and suspension set-up. Based on the three-door Fiesta, it is powered by a choice of two engines, the existing Fiesta Duratec 1.6L petrol, 100PS, 16-valve unit and the new Duratorq 1.6 litre TDCi, 90PS, 16-valve turbo-diesel. Fiesta S debuts in late 2004.

NEW 1.6 LITRE TDCi ENGINE COMES TO FIESTA AND FUSION

A new 16-valve intercooled and turbocharged diesel power unit will be added to the Ford Fiesta and Ford Fusion models this autumn, extending the comprehensive range of engines available with these small Fords. The new 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi (90 PS) gives Fiesta an entrant into what is a fast expanding small car diesel class.

This sub-segment already accounts for around a quarter of all B-segment diesel sales in the UK, Germany, France and Spain. Ford’s small car also has a 1.4-litre Duratorq TDCi and Duratec petrol power units ranging from 1.3 litres (68PS) through to 2.0 litres (150PS) when the Fiesta ST arrives.

MORE MONDEO CHOICE WITH NEW ENGINES AND TITANIUM SERIES

Two new powertrains, launched in an exclusive and limited production series called Titanium X, strengthen the powerful presence of the Ford Mondeo in the European large car market. Designed to enhance Ford’s penetration at the premium end of the segment, Mondeo’s new 2.2 litre 155 PS Duratorq TDCi engine boasts the highest power and torque outputs (360-400 Nm) for a four-cylinder diesel in its class. Petrol engine choice is also extended with a new 204 PS version of Ford’s smooth and powerful Duratec V6 engine, derived from Mondeo ST220.

MORE POWERFUL TRANSIT DIESELS

Two new engines and a new, slick-shifting, six-speed gearbox are now available on the Transit range, including the new, range topping 137 PS, 2.4-litre Duratorq TDCi engine. Apart from being the most powerful Transit diesel engine ever, the new TDCi unit boasts monumental torque of 375Nm at 2000 rpm, to add a new dimension to driveability. It was created to satisfy an increasing demand for more powerful and refined panel vans capable of consuming vast distances on Europe’s major roads. Also new is a 2.4-litre Duratorq TDdi engine (115 PS) with different performance characteristics and improved fuel-efficiency over the outgoing 125PS 2.4 TDdi Duratorq engine in the Transit range.



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