11 September 2007

Frankfurt show: new Ford Focus

Revised family hatch is so much more than just a mid-life facelift

Ford Focus

We thought the mid-life facelift of the Ford Focus would be a gentle affair - a reprofiled bumper here, a headlight tweak there. But the revision of Ford's family hatch turns out to be a sizeable effort, with every panel apart from the roof reworked to bring the Focus up-to-date. 

That means there's a new bonnet with deeper creases, a more pronounced undercut running the length of the car, and a sleeker, elongated hatch. The overall effect is to bring the Focus much more closely in line with the rest of the Ford 'family' - in fact, it looks just like a baby Mondeo. 

That's no bad thing - the trapezoidal grille and swept-back headlights give the Focus a stronger face, which Ford calls a product of its 'kinetic design philosophy' and we call a much-needed restyle. 

There's also been a mild revision inside the cabin, with new soft-touch materials and a redesigned centre console. 

The Focus is also the first car to get Ford's PowerShift six-speed gearbox, a dual-clutch effort similar to Volkswagen's ubiquitous DSG effort, featuring the now-standard flappy paddles. 

It'll be available in early 2008, as will the ECOnetic Focus: a cleaner, more frugal variant with similar modifications to VW's Golf BlueMotion and Volvo's C30 Efficiency. In other words, that's a recalibrated 1.6-litre diesel engine, lowered ride height, aerodynamic bodykit and lower-resistance tyres.

All that should reduce the ECOnetic's CO2 emissions to just 115g/km, allowing it to join the select band of vehicles that should escape the London congestion charge when it becomes emissions-based next year. See? Much more than just a facelift.

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