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CHICAGO, Feb.7, 2001 - It's the hot little racer that still leaves enough room in the budget for gas money - the 2002 Ford SVT Focus.

"The SVT Focus is the best all around performance car you can get for $18,000," says Tom Scarpello, Ford specialty vehicle marketing manager.

The Ford Special Vehicle Team today takes the wraps off this three-door hatchback at the Chicago Auto Show, revealing the group's most technologically advanced vehicle to date.

"The SVT Focus has what it takes to make a big impact in this market - and it's one we have to be in. It's youth, it's the future," says John Coletti, chief engineer at Ford Special Vehicle Engineering. "The younger generation today is embracing the small, four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive cars as 'their' performance cars in the same way the Baby Boomers embraced the V-8 muscle cars in the '60s.

"The SVT Focus puts us right out on the leading edge of this trend in terms of styling, performance and technology."

The engine in the SVT Focus, based on the DOHC, 16-valve Zetec I-4, features extensive modifications that elevate its power output to 170 hp and 145 lb.-ft. of torque, compared with 130 hp and 135 lb.-ft. of torque for the Focus ZX3 2.0-liter engine.

These modifications include a dual-stage intake (DSI) manifold, variable cam timing on the intake camshaft, and an under-body-only catalyst system. Additional new powertrain equipment on the SVT Focus includes a dual-mass flywheel and a six-speed manual transaxle.

The SVT Focus marks the first use of a dual-mass flywheel and a six-speed manual transmission on a front-wheel drive Ford product in North America.

The car's braking system is four-wheel discs with ABS. The front rotors are almost two inches larger in diameter compared with the Focus ZX3, on which the SVT Focus is based.

Special suspension tuning enhances the car's handling capabilities. Modifications include revised spring rates, larger anti-roll bars, unique bushings and shock absorber rates, and 17-inch wheels and tires.

In addition to the 17-inch alloy wheels, the exterior of the SVT Focus is distinguished by unique front and rear fascias, black honeycomb front grilles and rear valence, special rocker panel moldings and a rear spoiler.

Inside, the seats are trimmed in black leather, with additional bolster padding for increased lateral support. The shift knob and handbrake lever are leather-wrapped and have leather boots. The steering wheel also is leather-wrapped. The instrument panel features an electro-luminescent gauge cluster with titanium-colored faces.

Pricing of the SVT Focus reflects the Ford Special Vehicle Team's value objective - offering vehicles with a high level of performance-oriented content for the money. While the manufacturer's suggested retail price has not yet been finalized, the target price for the base model will be around $18,000.

"The SVT Focus is a better performance value than any of its competitors, and it's also an important product for Ford," Scarpello adds. "Not only is the SVT Focus an image-leader for the Focus line, its also is a showcase of our expertise with front-wheel-drive performance cars, which started with the SVT Contour. This car is key to attracting younger buyers who typically wouldn't have considered owning a domestic product."

Standard equipment on the 2002 SVT Focus includes air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo radio with single-disc CD player, speed control, remote keyless entry and Ford's SecuriLock™ passive anti-theft system.

Additional features standard only on the SVT Focus are an engine oil cooler, driver and front passenger side-impact air bags, a rear hatch cargo net, a rear hatch pull strap and an auxiliary power point.

Three options are available. The "winter package" includes a traction control system, heated seats and an engine block heater. An "audiophile" stereo system provides upgraded amplifier and speakers, the addition of an eight-inch subwoofer and a six-disc in-dash CD changer. A power sunroof will also be optional.

Both the standard and audiophile systems have fingertip controls on the steering column for volume control, radio station and CD changing - a feature that is unique to the SVT Focus.

The SVT Focus production run for model year 2002 will be approximately 7,500 units for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The SVT Focus will be built at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, assembly plant where the ZX3 model is manufactured.
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