The 1996 Mercedes-Benz SLK (R-170) by Mauer and Gunak started a trend for coupe-convertibles. In 2007 Ford joined the party as it began to end.
Pininfarina helped out with the styling and created one of the more successful attempts at using a C-class platform upon which to base such a car. Unlike Mauer and Gunak’s neatly styled roadster the Ford had to be a compromise and much cheaper. Pininfarina judged it quite well and managed to give the CC a very acceptable Italianate feel around the new rear bodywork while leaving the boot big enough to be usable.
We were discussing earlier this week what a carrozzerie brings to the party. Here we see how Pininfarina blended the carry-over front with new and pleasingly-chiselled forms. The lights are unique to the car and are good enough to make one want a car styled like that all the way around.
The idea makes me yearn for a fully developed medium-volume Focus derivative with a Pininfarina badge. Such a car might have been a creative solution to waning interest in volume-produced mid-size saloons. The Pininfarina input would have allowed Ford to package the mechanicals in a shape distinctly different from the Focus range; building to order would have added cachet too. That’s what the Vignale should be too, rather than a Ghia X for our troubled times.
Instead of the CC being a trial for a Pininfarina sub-brand, it ended up as a half-forgotten shot in the CC wars. The genre faded away as the platforms were replaced and interest moved to CUVs. Opel tried to keep demand alive for open-top motoring but the Cascada was a ragtop and it won’t be replaced when its number is up. The other mass-market brands have quit the game entirely as indeed have most of the premium brands. In the end, nobody liked the consequences of a hard convertible: top-heavy, often ill-proportioned and short on space.
All photos: Driven to Write.
32 thoughts on “A Photo For Sunday: 2007 Ford Focus CC”
These tin top open four seaters all suffer from the same problem. The folded roof has to fit into the boot and therefore they either need an enormously big rear or a strangely shaped root – or both, as can be seen at most of these cars. The horizontal part of the roof needs to be short so either the windscreen frame needs to go back absurdly far or the rear screen must have an extreme rake as can be seen in the pictures of the Focus. Then the boot needs to be excessively wide to accomodate these panels.
It all just doesn’t make sense in a four seater.
In an SLK the roof can be short because there are only two persons underneath.
Someone in marketing really liked them though. The silly part lay in struggling to make them four seaters. Probably all of these cars would have done better as either ragtops four seaters or hard-top two seaters. Still, the Opel and Ford versions managed just about. What about the Tigra Mk 2? It had two seats and looked groovy as well.
Some of the two seaters looked quite good – SLK, 206 or Tigra come to my mind. Other small cars were not that nice. Peugeot managed to do much worse with the 207 and the Japanese contributions (Colt and Micra) were especially ill-proportioned.
In the class above, only Renault managed to design something vaguely desirable in my eyes: the first Mégane CC. The second generation wasn’t as good anymore.
Taking into account all of the limitations imposed by the imposition of a folding metal roof, I’ve always thought the Focus was the best resolved and most elegant of its kind. Some might criticise the rear deck as overlong, but in my view Pininfarina lent it a faint echo of a luxury yacht or speedboat. There is also a very slight American feeling to the rear-end design, which only suggested itself to me when I was casting my eye over said vehicle yesterday in downtown Marbella. (The ambient lighting wasn’t on my side, so apologies for that).
There is no doubt these c-segment cabriolets would have been better resolved with a canvas roof – the evergreen Peugeot 306 Cabrio (also by Pininfarina) showing what could be achieved. Nevertheless, You get the sense Ford went the extra mile with this car, but hit the market well after it peaked. Like the Puma we featured recently, another car of which we’ll not see a return.
I don’t think the 206 CC looked good. It just managed to hide its unsightly large bum under silly boat like looks with railings and rubbing strips on the boot lid.
The Tigra Mk2 had a couple of problems.
Problem #1 was that it came from Opel, problem #2 was its image as a girlie car. Problem #3 was its roof which was made by Heuliez (and was very similar to the 206’s, also provided by Heuliez) and very quickly became infamous for being leaky and unreliable. It was impractical as well because in order to open the boot you had to keep the button pressed all the time – which was long because the thing was electrically operated.
You got the point, Dave: the 206 managed to hide the large bum. Others didn’t. Plus, you could have a very cheerful light green colour; that would be my choice.
I can see why they were good for the marketeers. They could be sold to people who were afraid of brittle, leaky and poorly insulated soft-tops and scratched, wrinkly plastic windscreens.
Oh, and I forgot one of my all time favourites, the Daihatsu Copen. As a very short two-seater, this one also managed to look good and have correct proportions, but the effect on boot capacity was desastrous.
The Copen deserves to be celebrated. I’d dearly like to have one for summer use. A neighbour has one. I should ask them about it.
I think you’re being very generous about the styling of the Focus CC. From the first time I saw one I thought it looked like a push me pull you, with a boot the same size as the bonnet. You simply cannot get a decent roofline and sensibly proportioned boot with a two piece hard top on a 4 seater car. The most successful designs (Volvo C70, VW EOS, Astra TwinTop) all use far more elaborate three piece mechanisms.
I also understand that of these only the Astra and Volvo can be trusted not to leak, the VW and Ford are infamous for it.
The Volvo C70: I’d neglected to mention that.
Leaving aside performance, the Ford is sufficiently directional for me. Maybe the SC430 is the car that deserves the “push me pull you” description. In the Ford CC I c a pleasing coupe. It helped that it some more interesting paint options or that customers chose more imaginatively. What’s more, this generation of Focus had a very coherent look; mating the new metal to the shared parts in the way Pininfarina did it must have been tricky but it worked.
I can’t see that as being coherent anywhere? The design is all over the place. Also, the Focus CC and Volvo C70 is built upon the same generation of platform, and both are made by Pininfarina. How much do they really have in common, and how much freedom did Pininfarina really have?
The Volvo had an advantage over the Focus with its three piece roof that doesn’t need such an excessively long boot.
With the Focus there’s the requirement to store the large horizontal panel in the boot in one piece. Even Pininfarina can’t do anything about the fact that the boot has to be wide and long to accommodate this panel and above all, it can’t taper to give the car sleek looks.
Evidently this car is polarising. The truth is not a) it’s ugly or b) it’s quite good. The truth is that there are three populations of potential user: 1) likers 2) non-likers and c) the indifferent. Ford decided that category (1) was large enough to justify production. If you try to appease group (2)
you end up with a lot of cars nobody loves (see: Opel), not bad but seldom alluring enough to make people love the cars.
The best (looking) hard top four seater convertible for me was the Volvo C70, although I did not like the 2010 facelift much. The VW Eos was not bad either.
Ford Focus CC never did a lot for me really.
Agreed. Despite the Focus’ tidy rear shutlines and light graphics, which I do like.
The Tigra 2 was neat and pretty – if it had had a FIAT badge on it everyone would have doted on it. The C70 was the stand-out 4 seater of this ilk, the 307 the nadir with the Focus CC somewhere in the middle. The Copen is timeless and to be savoured.
Both the Tigra 2 and Copen deserve a dual test, don’t they?
HJ reports the Tigra is prone to leaky roof bits and has good performance and smoothish ride quality. It ranked very poorly in the JD Power survey. Should we blame Heuliez who built it? The car has a Heuliez label on its wing. Opel sold 90,000 of them. Heuliez closed in 2013.
The best folding metal hard top for me was the previous generation MX5; preferable to the standard rag top. Journalists may be fawning over the new MX5 tin top but to my eyes it looks more contrived.
An MX-5 should not have a folding hard top. They are too heavy and the car, already focused on driving, is made even less useful for anything other than commuting and trips for Pringles at the petrol station. One ought to be able to tour with light luggage in a roadster: two squashy bags and room for a few bottles of souvenir booze.
I would not disagree, but the folding hard top entails such little penalty in terms of weight or looks, that it actually becomes a compelling option. In the U.K., where inclement temperatures and/or temprements are ever present, a robust hard top is ever valuable.
While we all like to give Mercedes Benz a kicking for their styling (and lord knows I have queued up a few times myself), nobody has ever complained about the appearance of the mechanical roofs of the SL and SLK, or whatever the hell they’re called these days.
The most egregious sin of the Focus CC, apart from its push me pull you proportions, is the fat bar of chrome across the rear, which instantly reminds me of latter day Jaguars.
Is that Ford’s fault? It doesn’t offend me and nor do the proportions – it has more than enough directionality for my needs.
Never liked the style of this CC: it just looked ungainly (that big boot) and didn’t feel special to me, a bit like the white-goods version of what a coupé-convertible would be, if that makes sense. I wasn’t keen on the Megane 1 CC for the same reasons. I much preferred Peugeot’s 308 CC. Although it had a big boot too, it managed, in my opinion, to look far more elegant and suited to the exercise than its 2 rivals.
We´ll have to differ. The Ford Focus CC has a nice Italian feeling to it. It seems nicely old school in that Pininfarina did not just do a variant on the Focus style but added a bit of their own character. The Megane is more consistent and the 308 CC plain ordinary, in my view.
It isn’t often I concur with Richard – we endeavour to violently disagree on as much as possible – but I will defend the Focus in this company. It at least attempted elegance. Not really something one could say about Sochaux by then – in my view the 308 cc is an ungainly lump of a thing, as indeed was its 307 predecessor. The Megane wasn’t much better in my view.
On balance I view the death of the Coupé convertible with relief. It was a cul-de-sac.
I never agree with Eoin even to the extent we disagree but here I am compelled to admit his assessments of the CC cars is correct. Was the CC a dead end? The original SLK did a good job of the concept and I don’t think other marques erred in deploying the conciet and I am glad they did – we would not have had the Lexus SC430 otherwise nor this nice Italianate Ford.
The 308 CC had its styling shortcomings I’ll agree too. The reason I prefer it over the Ford or the Peugeot is because I think the swoopy lines and its more “latin” character is better suited to this type of vehicle.
Yes, the proportions were odd too and the front-end, inherited from the 308 hatchback, could be seen as controversial but the more angular approach of both its rivals left me cold, especially the way their back ends were not only big but also squared off which made them look even more awkward in my opinion.
It took me some time to get used to the Megane CC (though I never really got fully used to it) with it’s industrial design approach and rectilinear boot and tail lights, althought I’ll admit that it was, for me, the slightly better proportioned one out of the three.
Also I really did not like the extremely flared wheel arches of the Focus: they worked nicely on the hatch but found them incongruant on a CC where I think a more subtle approach in that area is better suited to the more “elegant” shapes we expect from a convertible.
In that regard I found the 308 smoother arches far better suited to the exercise although I think the rear wheel arches on the Peugeot needed a bit more definition as the vast expanse of sheet metal around that area needed work to break things up visually.
To summarise I think the 308, despite its stylistic flaws, had more Panache than the other two and made more of a dramatic statement with its more baroque approach.
One can see it this way, I agree. However, I prefer the Mégane over the Peugeot as the ‘industrial’ approach suits me more than the baroque. (In design, that is. For music, the picture looks different…)
It’s a matter of tastes, in the end. Neither of the cars is really good, as there are just too many compromises to be made with such a type of vehicle.
It’s a good analogy, Megane’s KraftWerk versus 308’s Antonio Vivaldi’s vibes 😀