Ford officially unveiled the next iteration of the Focus. So, what have we here?
We see change. I’ve been waiting for a better Focus since the last one appeared in 2011. That car never met my expectations even if it proved pleasant. How have Ford changed the Focus for 2018? Have they made all change change for the best?
To answer that it’s very much a case of needing a side-by-side comparison since the Mk3 lacks the kind of character that’d make it memorable. Let’s start at the front and walk around. The new version shown above is the ST Line, meaning the front clip is probably not going to be quite the same as on the other three models. The headlamps and bonnet are standard though and the defining theme is of lines radiating from the roll axis and a subtle, semi-organic softness belying the actual aggression of the visage.
This style would something along the lines of what I call contemporary vernacular and unlike the distinctive, high-concept themes of the Mk1 and Mk2 (first series) Foci. This is a conservative market segment so Ford probably was very reluctant to do anything alarming.
I suppose one could call it muscular. The very pronounced flaring of the bodyside and the bone-line at the base of the door add to this effect. Notice the plastic air-flow separators at the side of the rear sceen – rather Megane but also something of a standard these days. It makes the rear screen look broader as well as being aerogood.
What they haven’t done is any C-pillar jiggery-pokery as on the Opel Astra or Lexus RX-7. That makes it conventional. If you don’t focus on the car it does suggest Megane. It’s quite acceptable yet also tame too. This is evidently what customers want and being tame hasn’t hurt VW one bit. What I can call disappointing are the rear lamps which are as huge as they are uninteresting.
Here is the current Megane for comparison:
Renault’s contender has a shade more definition and the lamps are different but not wierd. Notice the air-flow separator (I grudgingly admit that Renault’s car looks very good).
Did I hear someone say stance? The Focus certainly has that, and almost a Citroenesque pointiness, courtesy of the overhang and the acceleration of the curvature of the bonnet towards the leading edge. This (above) is probably the best view.
Ford’s design manager Jordan Bennett explained the styling: “With this car we really wanted to move on the design language… the previous car was styled under our Kinetic design influence, whereas this language is much more athletic.” No, the design has not moved on and it is not more athletic…
It’s not less athletic either. I really don’t like it when the old car (however bland) is needlessly put in a bad light so as to make the new car seem better. It’s a good idea to compare your new product to other brands’ offerings, not the one your customers already have on their driveway.
I see the new Focus lacks a cheater panel: the windscreen base now stops at the junction of the door and side glass. That implies that the front windscreen is more upright, by a smidgin.
The press write-ups stress the infotainment as much as the driving quality. Alas, the man at Ford admits that being good to drive means nothing if the in-car distractions are not competitive: “Joe Bakaj, Ford of Europe’s vice president for product development, said: “Driving quality in itself isn’t enough to sell cars. If you’re not up to scratch [in infotainment], you’re not even considered. But owners will still get that fun-to-drive feel that people have loved about the Focus for the past 20 years” (Autocar).
And what do you know, so many people don’t care about driving quality that torsion beam suspension is now standard on the lower-order models. The good news is that Ford have trimmed 88 kg from the car’s weight, compared with the last model. That’s the mass of a slightly overweight average buyer.
A saloon will be sold in the EU-market. Britons and Irelanders won’t get this. This is the estate version:
This slide show highlights some aspects of the estate’s design:
This slide show puts the Focus estate into context. There are two generations of Megane and the Kia Ceed estate.
Did someone move the goal-posts as Ford froze the design of the Focus estate, I have to ask. The new Focus has some hints of old Megane. You won’t mistake Ford’s new Focus for a decade-old Renault Megane while they are also out of the same old box.
Speaking of the estate, Ford have gone with a conventional D-pillar and I don’t think it works that well. The BIW reaches a narrow point towards the top (see the slide show), which is almost indecisive, seemingly the last variant of the theme left in the design bag of D-pillars before one does away with the feature entirely.
I haven’t shown the interior because it is simply not worth displaying. It’s far from bad, in the same design spacd as almost everyone else’s. Car interior design has ossified.
So, to conclude, Ford have revised their rather anonymous current Focus with something a bit tidier and a bit calmer yet still veering towards the bland and timid. There is little wrong with it and it is an improvement of a degree. I would really like to have seen what they rejected.
(Some facts from AutoExpress: “The Focus range arrives with seven familiar trim levels: Style, Zetec, ST-Line, ST-Line X, Titanium, Titanium X and Vignale. The Style starts at £17,930 – lowering the entry point to the range by £2,300 compared to the previous generation. Further up is the sporty-looking ST-Line, which starts at £21,570. While drivers looking for the most luxurious Focus have the option of the Vignale – which opens the books at £25,450.”)
Photogallery credits – 2009 Megane: Pinterest; 2017 Megane: Renault.co.uk; 2018 Kia Ceed: AutoCropley