Ford chose Detroit for the worldwide debut of the 2012 Ford Focus, at least in part, to show us that this time the North American version is no afterthought.
Yes, after Ford says that the new Focus “takes kinetic design to a new level,” with a sportier design and more athletic stance, and it showcases “the new global DNA” of Ford small cars. Overall proportions look right either in sedan or hatchback form. And inside, the new Focus gets a design that builds on the themes and materials seen in the 2011 Ford Fiesta, with a wrap-around center console and more of a cockpit look than Ford has used in recent years. Look for more about the interior in an upcoming post; up close, it’s beautiful and looks even a step better than the Fiesta interior we gushed over at the LA show.
Again since it’s Detroit, Ford showed the Focus with its North American debut engine, and this time it's no slouch: an all-new DOHC direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It has a cast aluminum head, block, pistons, and even oil pan, all aiding weight savings, and Ford’s new TI-VCT variable valve timing system, which the automaker is in the process of phasing in across its lineup. The engine makes 155 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque.
Joining the all-new engine is an equally interesting all-new transmission. In addition to a six-speed manual, Ford will also install its PowerShift six-speed automatic in the 2011 Ford Focus. With twin internal clutches, the automated manual transmission provides both performance and fuel economy gains over conventional automatics. It also includes a hill-start system.
Most importantly Ford said that the Focus with the 2.0-liter and PowerShift “is poised to claim a leadership role in fuel economy from the moment it’s launched,” with the new engine alone achieving a projected ten-percent gain in fuel economy (Ford separately says that the dual-clutch transmission can help to reduce fuel consumption by up to nine percent). Our best guess? Count on an EPA highway rating in the vicinity of 40 mpg with SportShift.
The new Focus was extensively tuned by teams in Germany and Belgium, and rides on a newly optimized version of Ford’s “control blade” multi-link rear suspension (with struts in front) and has semi-isolated front and rear subframes for good control without road shocks. The Focus also gets Ford’s Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS), which we’ve tested and liked in several other Ford vehicles.
The body shell of the new Focus is made of 55 percent high-strength steel for weight savings, with 26 percent made of ultra-high-strength steel and Boron steel—which the automaker says will help obtain top crash-test performance while watching weight.
Inside, the new Focus will offer the automaker’s recently introduced MyFord system, with premium versions including an 8-inch touch screen. The 2012 Focus will also offer a Sync connectivity package, including Bluetooth and satellite navigation. Ford also plans to offer a version of its Active Park Assist system.
After some halfhearted efforts over the past several years, we can now be sure that Ford is serious about making appealing small cars—and making them a major part of the business plan—in North America and beyond.
Production of the new 2012 Ford Focus will start late this year in Europe and North America, with an on-sale date in early 2011.