Under the Knife – Swings and Roundabouts

Largely unnecessary, possibly retrograde; the Focus got the Kinetic treatment in 2007.

2007 Focus v2.5 Image: The RAC

Claude Lobo returned full-time to Köln-Merkenich in 1997 to head Ford’s European design team, following a three-year stint as head of Ford’s advanced studio in Dearborn. By then, the blue oval’s European satellite seemed at something of a creative crossroads. Throughout the decade, Merkenich’s design quality had become decidedly uneven and in terms of direction, its previous stylistic assurance seemed lost.

Under Lobo’s direction, two highly significant Ford designs were enacted, the original 1996 Ka and the 1998 Ford Focus,[1] both spearheading a newfound confidence in form, graphics and style. Two years later, the Parisian retired, his replacement hailing from Ingolstadt. Chris Bird was part of the design team at Audi since 1985, contributing to the original A8 model, becoming Ingolstadt’s studio head under Peter Schreyer in 1995.

Bird therefore arrived in 1999 with notable design credentials, and is widely regarded as being the leading light behind the shift from the expressiveness of Lobo’s so-called ‘New Edge’ design theme to a calmer, less dramatic appearance. However, the timelines do not necessarily support this contention.

Given that the second-generation Mondeo arrived a year after Bird’s arrival, it is highly unlikely he was instrumental in anything but detail appearance. The fifth-generation Fiesta, which arrived a mere two year’s later, would also have been in progress, although Bird would have had some ability to influence its appearance. These cars however were almost certainly signed off under the late Mr. Lobo[2], suggesting that this more restrained theme most likely predated Chris Bird’s arrival.

2004 Ford Focus. Image: netcarshow via topspeed

In 2004, the second-generation Focus was revealed, its appearance previewed to some extent the previous year by the advent of the first-generation C-Max model. While the Focus was clearly styled in keeping with this new calmer aesthetic, its appearance can also be read as something of a reaction to the outgoing car. While successful, the first-generation Focus did not unsettle the Golf from its pre-eminent position amid the C-segment, and given the accolades lavished upon the fourth generation model from Wolfsburg, it was inevitable that Ford would follow its lead.

Opinion was sharply divided upon the visual merits of the newer car, which is credited to Ford’s Murat Gueler. The Turkish car designer began his career at VW in 1996 and following a short stint at Sindelfingen, arrived at Merkenich the same year as his design overseer. The design process for Focus 2 is said to have begun in 2000, eight proposals being whittled down before Gueler’s proposal received the go-ahead.

Image: carinpicture

The Focus 2’s exterior design was in many respects (and especially in silhouette) an evolution of the earlier car, but characterised by a sense of visual rectitude. While it may have lacked the outgoing car’s playful expressiveness, Gueler’s design not only reflected Ford’s latest design philosophy, as seen with the earlier Mondeo and Fiesta models, but also a newfound maturity. Ford wanted customers to take this one seriously.

Coupled to this sense of visual heft was a more rigid bodyshell, mated to a new C1 platform, to be shared with Mazda and Volvo. Technical hardware would be carried over, for the most part; the emphasis being on refinement, both in road behaviour (which was excellent) and within the more opulent looking (and feeling) cabin.

The lesser-spotted saloon – an under-appreciated gem? Image: autoevolution

While some viewed this new more mature style positively, others, notably Car Magazine’s Gavin Green, decried what he described as Ford’s retrenchment from radicalism. But Ford was not in the business of gratifying auto-journalists, they had market share to defend. The Focus 2’s mission was to shift the model’s proposition upwards in sales and reputation, so as to if not overtake, at least give the all-conquering Golf a decent nip at its heels.

Hence, observers were surprised that in 2007, rather than the expected perfunctory midlife update, the Focus was in receipt of a significant makeover, tantamount to a reskin.

By then Ford’s Merkenich studios had been subject to reorganisation; now headed by Martin Smith, who working alongside Stephan Lamm and the incumbent, if seemingly sidelined Chris Bird, enacted a new aesthetic, energy in motion. Later dubbed Kinetic Design, the theme made its production car debut with the S-Max multispace, introduced in 2006, and the Mondeo 3, first revealed the same year.

A return to a more expressive form, and a reactive shift some suggest from the more ascetic appearance of the immediate post-millennium cars, it was deemed necessary for the facelifted Focus, which had not shifted the European market sales dial in the hoped for direction to receive an infusion of kineticism.

The revised Focus was good in parts, and in parts only. While on one hand the flanks were cleaner (shorn of side-rubbing strips), the waistline body crease was thicker, more pronounced, which caught the light more, but lent the car a heavier appearance. The nose gained more expression, which really amounted to nothing more than noise, similarly the rear. In short, what you gained on the swings, you lost again on the roundabouts.

Image: autocentrum

By contrast to its immediate predecessor, which had steadily maintained the earlier car’s sales position, the facelifted Focus did shift the sales dial in Europe. However, even allowing for the fact that the 2008 financial crash adversely affected car sales worldwide, the sales curve dipped purposefully downwards, a trajectory which has continued largely unabated since.

Whatever rationale sat behind the sudden shift in aesthetics in Ford’s Cologne studios (and internal politics cannot be ruled out), what Ford’s management appeared to have ignored was that the buying public don’t always react well to sudden change. It appears that the majority were largely content with the car as was, and that the abrupt shift in surface treatment, while still evidently the same car, was not all that well received.

This is not necessarily the fault of the design team – or indeed its leadership. Neither Ford’s European fortunes, nor its senior management had been an assured presence for some time and what this period (in purely design terms) reflects is a chaotic and troubled environment.

The Focus’ European sales peak occurred twenty years ago, when slightly over half a million were delivered. Its new normal is now less than half that number – markedly less last year – for obvious reasons. Ford’s current leadership have tacitly suggested that the Focus could be next for the chop, one of their number informing journalists recently that the kuga now represents their core European offering.

In 2010, at the launch of the third-generation model, Chris Bird defended Kinetic Design, saying it provided a point of difference to VW’s then more disciplined offerings. But what it really illustrated was Ford’s schizophrenic approach. Swinging from expressiveness to asceticism, then back again was hardly a recipe for establishing a cohesive and durable styling offer. Consistency sells.

[1] The timelines on both cars suggest that they may have been designed while Lobo was still based in the US.
[2] Claude Lobo passed away in 2011.

Murat Gueler went on to lead the design process for the first generation Ford Kuga. As of 2020 he headed Ford’s Merkenich styling studio.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

61 thoughts on “Under the Knife – Swings and Roundabouts”

  1. The second generation Focus came in 2004, not 1994 – stop trying to confuse me !

  2. As someone who hated the original Focus with a vengeance, I found the second generation car a big improvement. The only good thing about the rear end of the Mk1 saloon was that it didn’t have those terrible lights each side of the back window.
    I thought the revised front end of the facelift Mk II was nicely done, but it is unfortunate that it lost the side rubbing strip.

    1. Didn´t they do a good job of the saloon? It is very coherent. Oddly, people bought plenty of similarly sized Audi A3 saloons but won´t consider an Astra or Focus saloon.

  3. Good morning Eóin. An excellent choice of subject for an ‘Under the Knife’ analysis.

    The Mk2 Focus in its original form is a beautifully resolved design. Some might call it bland, but I think there’s an awful lot in it to delight the eye – if you know what you’re looking for. I love the way the high-mounted tail lights frame the rear window perfectly, and the way the bonnet to wing shut-line continues unbroken down the outer edge of the headlamp, and the way the rear door trailing edge shut-line precisely follows the wheel arch . There’s a masterful, ascetic minimalism about it, with no ‘look at me’ flourishes. In a word, I think it is perfect.

    The facelift is fine, as far as it goes, and it certainly gives the car more ‘character’, but for me, it just makes it look more ordinary. There isn’t a single detail of the facelift, apart from perhaps the deletion of the side rubbing strip, that is an improvement.

    1. Oh, and the Mk2 saloon is also a gem, although as rare as hen’s teeth in the UK.

    2. Of course you don’t actually need a side rubbing strip unless you’re going to use supermarket car-parks…..

  4. No mention of the estate, which is a shame, as I always think it looks so well-resolved, and to my eyes a bit Volvo-y.

    1. Andy – funny you should say that; I was thinking that the saloon was quite Volvo-y.

      I agree the estate was good – I think the back end / lights look better than the hatch’s. Having been alerted to Focuses by the article, I noticed a load of them on the road today, including one mk1 and two mk2s, appropriately enough. The mk2s were both silver and a bit ‘invisible’ I’m afraid.

      As the Focus has grown, perhaps the Fiesta now fills its shoes. In any event, all European Fords will be plug-in hybrids or fully electric by 2026.

  5. I’m thoroughly enjoying the DTW articles and am working my way through the archive. Many thanks for keeping me occupied.

    Its nice to see my current car featuring, I liked the mk1 focus, but never took to the mk2 until the 2.5 appeared. I bought a late one of these in preference to a newer mk3 – I thought the older cars styling crisper and the interior far less fussy. My general feeling is that Ford facelifts produce a more appealing car.

    Keep up the good work…

    1. Thanks and welcome Roy. I had a Focus 2.5 as a hire-car a number of years ago, and despite being a little the worse for hard usage, it drove with a fluency that really left an impression. I thought the cabin to be very nicely finished as well. Matters of style and design are of course subjective, but I favour the pre-facelift car from a purely aesthetic perspective.

      Andy: This wasn’t really intended to be a thorough review of the car and all of its bodystyles, in fact I only appended the photo of the saloon because (a) it’s such a rarity (albeit not so much here in the ROI) and (b) I thought it looked particularly fine in that image. I like the estate. It’s a very well resolved design. In fact, unlike its predecessor model, all body variants of the series 2 Focus were very well executed.

  6. The Focus Mk1 vs Mk2 is an interesting comparison. I suspect that opinion is quite polarised on them: those who like the quirky styling of the Mk1 are unlikely to appreciate the extreme discipline of the (pre-facelift) Mk2, and vise-versa. I find the Mk2 hugely appealing and would have bought one in a heartbeat if I had wanted that sort of car. However, it took me quite a long time to appreciate (i.e. understand) the Mk1.

    Even the typefaces used for ‘Focus’ badges represented the differences between the design approach to the two cars really well. Mk1 first, followed by Mk2:

    The first is freestyle and casual, the second very formal, just like the cars.

    1. Daniel, that first typeface is so perfect for the car. I’ve not given this any thought before but I doubt if there’s a better match on any other car.

    2. I think you’re right, Daniel. I adore the Mk 1 Focus, but try as I might (and goodness knows I’ve tried) I can’t warm to the Mk 2. In fact none of the subsequent generations can hold a candle to the original in my eyes.

  7. I really liked the first Focus, so for me the second gen was a bit of a letdown.
    Not great, not bad, just ok…

    As a young lad with a fresh licence, the ST redeemed it somewhat though, and i really liked the loud orange colour and revised grille.

    As for the facelift, i’m not a big fan… as usual with facelifts.

    1. I always like it when a car or manufacturer “owns” a colour, like the Focus ST, or Mazda with Soul Red.

    2. yep, like the lovely green 2007 mazda2… some launch colours just feel right.

    3. Like ‘rosso Alfa Romeo AR268’, ‘blu Lancia’, ‘blu Alfieri’…

    4. Here’s another great colour Ford ‘owns’ on the Mondeo ST220:

      And Mazda’s metallic red:

    5. It’s a shame bright colours have become so passé, almost all the manufacturers have abandoned the various iconic colour schemes of the “old” days.
      is it even possible to get a rally blue subaru with gold wheels any more?

      i have yet to see a modern mazda in sould red, as everyone seems to pick various shades of black or gray instead.

  8. The Focus Mk2 looks very good but has one detail that completely spoils the looks: that black triangle at the base of the A-pillar. In a proper design it should have been possible to align the base of the A-pillar with the front shutline of the front door -something the Golf 4 did.

    1. Clearly the Ford designers made a concious decision to move the base of the windscreen too far forward – that meant either a black triangle or the dreaded split “A” pillar…

    2. The cheater panel (I think it´s called) is not a problem – moving the apex of the DLO would have knock-on effects all over the front of the car and the sides. The whole thing is finely balanced and every element exists fully in relation to everything else. So, while it might seem like a harmless tweak to move the black triangle, it´s not. If this was an ordinary design it might not be so critical. However, this particular car is one of those rarities that is calm and rationale but also strikingly distinctive (the Lancia Kappa does the same thing though not as well). The treatment of the fillets and the main surfaces give the car a tremendous solidity yet it´s not inert like the Golf and uses fewer features than the otherwise jolly nice Astra of the time. It´s rather regrettable that customers reacted as they did which required a sudden facelift. Customers can be wrong. Mk 2 Series 1 Focus is one of the stand out great designs of that decade. Personally it´s got an assured placed in my top 20 most visually satisfying designs. It joins the DS, CX, Jaguar XJ Series 3, Saab 900, Alfa Romeo Guilia (1962-1976), BMW E28 5-series and Volvo 240 and Ford Fusion in those ranks.

    3. I wonder why Ford didn’t mount the door mirror on that sail panel? Not only would it have looked neater, it would have required less head/eye movement from the straight ahead position to use it. Perhaps the passenger side mirror might have been obscured by the leading edge of the door window frame?

    4. To Clarify, Richard. Looking at the European sales figures for the second-gen Focus, Ford maintained the position established by the first generation car. The inevitable new model bounce notwithstanding, the Focus 2 sold almost as strongly as the first-gen car. Now perhaps Ford management viewed this as a failure, and believed that the car’s appearance wasn’t sufficiently ’emotional’ to resonate with buyers, or perhaps it was felt that not to bring it into line with the ‘Kinetic’ designs would make it appear as an outlier, but either way, the facelift was surprisingly thorough. For clarity, sales fell post-facelift. The financial crash didn’t help, nor I expect did VW’s sixth gen Golf, which returned to a calmer, more mature appearance after the garish fifth generation. But there were probably other reasons too.

    5. The mirror location is pretty much always a certain point ahead of and to one side of the driver´s eyes (apart from the Japanse wing-mounted ones – why?). So, although the sail panel is quite near the mirror, it´s not in the right place for the mirror. The location of the mirror doesn´t bother me. I think the car´s perfect which is why I admire it so much.

    6. I assumed the reaction to the calmer Mk2 was not as positive as the Mk1. That it sold as well means it was doing its job. Someone inside Ford must have taken a royal dislike to it then as the facelift was drastic and not merely the bumper job the Mk 1 received. That´s a great pity as the Mk2 Series 1 is so very well-done. Any facelifting might have been deleterious to such a finely integrated shape so it was always going to be an all or very little kind of proposal. The driver was, perhaps not that the Mk2 was wrong in itself but that the styling direction changed under Smith and the cool, rationality of the C-Max and Focus 2 didn´t fit. As I argued here a long time ago, the change of direction occurred before Smith took over. Politics? We may never know.

    7. Japanese cars have wing mounted mirrors because up to 1983 their type approval regulations demanded mirrors that could be seen through an area cleaned by windscreen wipers.

  9. How about this, the mirror moved to the sail panel? Original first for comparison:


    1. Maybe a) as I said it really can´t be moved about in relation to the driver´s eye point as much as you think (to do with angles and sight lines) and is very constrained by regs and b) if the mirror is on a fixed sail panel as per the revised drawing you can´t open the door properly. I confident the reason the mirror is where it is not trivial. Try this:
      https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:177:0211:0262:EN:PDF
      which to me says you can´t move the mirror around like it´s attached with velcro and subject to stylists whims.

    2. Hi Richard and Andy. Richard, given the wide variation in the position of the A-pillar relative to the driver’s head, not least because of the fore-aft adjustment of the seat, I don’t think that would have been the issue that prevented the sitting of the mirror on the sail panel.

      The only reason I can think of is that the mirror would be fixed to the body,not the door, but the door wouldn’t open wide enough to foul it, unless the mirror had been folded in to protect them when the car was parked and the owner forgot to unfold it before opening the door.

    3. A 52-page EU document on the positioning of car mirrors? Very funny, Richard! I’m 60 years old, so haven’t enough time left to read that!

    4. Go on Daniel, sit yourself down in a nice comfy chair with a cuppa and a bisc… oh.

    5. Daniel: the only two elements related to the mirror are the driver and the mirror itself; the rest of the car is worked around that. Notice those 00s Peugeots like the 407 where the mirror is jammed onto the shoulder of the door – its position is probably very much where all mirrors go and the bodywork and other elements are there to support it. In the case of the 407 they probably felt a bit ill when they realised the swoopy DLO was going to mean the mirror stalk had to to be supported by the shoulder and not the metal frame. It looks awful.

    6. Very funny, Andy, just rub more salt in the wound, why don’t ya? 😁

  10. Hallo everyone, I am not a big fan of the Ford Focus family but I find the Mk1 to be the most accomplished and original design. Every line is well executed in a harmony of intercepting elliptical arcs. Very detailed up to the logo! Refreshing and interesting.
    The Mk2 is also very well executed but the arcs are gone, so what’s left is a rather more generic design. The facelift was a move to the trendy concepts of homogenising the whole range… I am also not a fan of this trend, I find it not very interesting and bad design in principle.
    P.S.: If I was CITROEN I would immediately hire the chief designer of the Mk1.

  11. As it happens I have a press kit from the Focus 2 launch. There are three drawings by Murat Gueler: two pencil drawing and one more elaborate shaded rendering. In the drawings is an impression of the strength of the car and something of the calm simplicity. The shaded rendering seems to suggest the relation of the accelerating surfaces intersecting at sharp fillets though it might be possible I am seeing that after the fact. It´s not obvious that these drawings would yield the final car so some magic was worked in the clay modelling phase. Claudio Messale is credited as Chief Designer for the Focus 2 which I think means guiding the process from sketch to definitive clay model. I am not sure if he attended to the daily grind of clay modelling or whether Gueler did that as author of the sketch. Point: magic worked in the clay modelling stage.

  12. Re sales figures, the 2006 Astra provided strong competition, and that was followed in 2007 by the launch of the Nissan Qashqai. Ford will have known of the impending launches, which perhaps explains the significant facelift.

    1. Good point Charles. I had forgotten about the timeline of the Qashqai’s introduction. That took sales from everyone. Ironic for Ford, the first generation Renault Scenic (the compact MPV craze) and the Golf IV hurt the Focus Mark 1’s sales prospects, while the Qashqai (compact crossover craze) and the Golf VI hurt the second series – or at least the one that went under the knife. Swings and Roundabouts…

  13. Ah yes, Ford: the manic depressive of car design (witness also the Sierra and Mondeo). Wild and expressive one generation, boring and straight-laced the next. Mind you, that comes with a breathtaking variety in quality of execution (Escort fifth generation vs your specimen, the second generation Focus). Consistency builds brands, but seems very difficult to execute (Ford, Fiat and its entire Group, Peugeot, Seat…)

    I’ve been fooled by the Focus’ simplicity into thinking it was a boring, if very pleasing design. On reflection, I can see the same stark but incredibly well executed simplicity of say, the B5 and B6 Audi A4 or the B5 Passat. By using simple design elements, the designers force themselves to perfect the composition – a bit like a Mondriaan painting which looks boring until you try to imagine which lines or dots – or empy spaces – could be moved without ruining the painting. None.

    Tangentially, Mondriaan’s Victory Boogie Woogie (which I quite like, more than the better-known works) shows that even simple elements can create a dynamic impression.

    1. Hi Tom. I was unaware of Piet Mondrian’s Boogie Woogie paintings, so that’s the second thing I’ve learnt this Sunday morning, and it’s only 8.15am!

      Here’s an example:

      Compared with his better known signature style:

    2. 🙂 Happy to oblige, Daniel… It’s quite a thing to behold in real life. Unfinished (bits of sticky tape where he’d planned paint daubs), so it’s not clear whether this is the final composition. The Art Museum/Kunstmuseum (formerly Municipal Museum/Gemeentemuseum) in The Hague contains a large selection of his paintings, detailing his journey into abstract painting. The building itself is quite a thing, too, the last finished design of Hendrik Berlage (about a generation older than Mondriaan). Should you ever be in the neighbourhood.

      Maybe, the fifth generation Honda Prelude is another example of a design so stark it’s almost an abstraction of a car? I’m not sure it’s quite as accomplished as the other examples mentioned.

  14. I agree with Richard and Daniel: the Mk2 saloon is beautifully balanced and executed. Of course, given the UK market’s bizarre reluctance to even consider buying 4 door versions of cars it has become a accustomed to think of as 3/5 door hatchbacks, one finds virtually no English language reference to this model at all. (The Mk2 Focus was never sold in the US.) I personally thought the 4dr 1991 Astra F was a nice but underrappreciated piece of work too. In fact the Astra F in general was very attractive, inside and out, and showed up just how poor the Escort Mk5 really was…

    1. Richard, I’ve followed your link and re-visited the Astra F, and I still can’t find any love for it. I find it “blobby” in general, and the rear wheel-arch/bumper treatment is a real turn-off.
      Sorry, but I did try.

    2. Mervyn: thanks for looking. We both agree the car is round but you think it´s a bit too round. Fair enough. And there´s a clipped wheel arch which you don´t like and I do. That´s design for you! I find it a pleasing gathering of shapes, much more so than the rather crude Golf and the mostly nasty Escort of the day. It looked like some attention was paid to the shapes whereas VW and Ford´s efforts at the time tend to be too close to the engineering minumum. A nicely specced Escort could be nice. Even a nicely specced Golf was on the harsh side.

    3. Is it stretching a point to suggest that the Astra F’s styling was more French than Germanic? I like it, but thought it would have made a more convincing Renault or Citroën

    4. Hmmm. Opel have never seemed to me to be German; more European in flavour. That they actually are German is not in doubt so much as the way it´s not played up. So, is the Astra very French? I´d be inclined to say no as it´s not eccentric enough. I see the F as a good bit of European industrial design rather than a statement of national identity.

  15. One exquisite detail of the Mk2 Focus design that survived the facelift is the chamfer that runs from the front grille along the bonnet, up the A-pillar, along the edge of the roof, down the C-pillar and into the rear bumper. It’s beautiful, and beautifully executed. You can appreciate it best in the front and (particularly) rear three-quarter photos above.

  16. Reading this reminds me of just how good Fords of this era were: I once test drove a Mk3 Mondeo (helping a friend choose his next company car) against the usual suspects from BMW, Audi, VW et al and it was the best car by a country mile; with remarkable ride, handling and refinement. Later I was a passenger in a Mk2 Focus and, from where I was sitting, it had the same feeling of poise and refinement as it’s larger sibling.

    The Mk2 Focus design is terrific. I prefer it to the Mk2.5 but don’t think the facelift really ruined anything.

    1. I never tried a Mk 2 Mondeo. I´d like to correct that omission at some point. If it´s as good as the 406 I´d be impressed. From a styling point of view it was spot on and they look great today (unless it´s a chromeless, flat painted steel wheeled model – then the goodness is a bit concealed).

    2. Hi Richard. I think you might mean the Mk3 Mondeo (the blue one above) as the Mk2 was merely the Mk1, facelifted with the big oval grille and large headlamps. Ford has often played fast and loose with its mark numbers, causing much confusion.

    3. Yes – I mean the one people accused of being too much like a Passat. It´s not, at all. I was using my own mark counting system where the Mk 2 is the properly different car launched in 2000.

  17. Good morning everybody. I’m probably the outlier here in preferring the Mk2-restyled Focus to the Mk2, and even the Mk1. I think the restyling makes it look stronger and more solid. I remember when they first came out thinking that they looked quite tidy and tight, like they were made from a single block. I guess it’s the slight softening of the edges, which add substance without losing tension and the addition of the side creases (with similar, just-right radiuses) that did it. I miss the rubbing strips on the sides, though, but I understand they would have clashed with the side creases, making the sides too busy. I guess this is a problem we’re going to have to deal with for a long time as surfacing on cars keeps getting busier and busier. I hate how we’ve allowed our cars to be naked and completely devoid of protection, starting of course with body coloured bumpers, but I digress.

    Getting back to the Focus, I also like the way they restyled the centre console. The other day I saw one while driving and its centre console still looked fresh and even modern, despite not having the now compulsory touch screen.

    So, in 2011 I was in the market for a low-mileage mid-size hatch and the Mk2-restyled was initially at the top of my list as it was everywhere, so prices were low and supply was vast; I could get the perfect one. Yet I didn’t due to the weak 99hp 1.6 petrol engine (I don’t like diesels). I had hired a 99hp Mk2 in Tenerife the year before and found its performance barely adequate; ok for a couple of weeks of holiday, but not enough to live with I thought, despite its obvious qualities (handling, room, decent build quality, and of course styling).

  18. The story I heard about the Mk2 Focus for the US was that Ford in Dearborn wasted so much time in a “will-we-or-won’t-we” decision loop that they ran out of time to do anything other than facelift the original to make it look a bit like the new one – new dash, new face (complete with hood and fender sheetmetal-stamping changes) and a new trunk lid for the sedan. The Mk 1.5 grew on me and kept the original Focus’s essential character intact, especially in hatchback form. The plastichrome-laden 2008 reskin of it, with the hatchbacks and wagons gone and replaced by a coupe (2-door sedan, really) that was utterly salesproof, OTOH, looked cheap and nasty but redeemed itself as a “good used car” especially in comparison to the 2012+ models with their cramped interiors and flawed DCT.

  19. In Australia our Focii (Focuses?) were built in South Africa, and they carried over the old door skins. Except for the ST aka XR5 Turbo in our market that came from Germany.

    I marginally prefer the update, with the exception of the tail lights on the original version of the sedan which I really like. They did a great job on the sedan with this generation unlike most hatchback tack-ons.

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