Ford has released official images and information about the fourth iteration of perhaps its most important model, the Focus. Appropriately, there are four different types for customers to choose from, including a new crossover-esque ‘Active’ model.
The fourth generation features a 53mm-longer wheelbase despite the body only being 18mm longer, while it’s 15mm lower and the same width as the outgoing car. The chassis is also 33kg lighter, with up to 55kg further weight loss coming from elsewhere in the car (body panels, engines, etc.).
According to Joe Bakaj, vice president of product development at Ford of Europe, “the chance to build a completely new car from a fresh piece of paper does not come around often. We grabbed it with both hands.”
The result of this optimism doesn’t have any glaring faults in its “human-centric” design, although it arguably lacks the boldness of the mould-breaking 1998 original on any real level.
Its nose was clearly designed to reinforce the new Ford family ‘face’ defined by the smaller Fiesta last year, although its active computer-controlled LED headlights are optionally bisected by a DRL strip, and the trapezoidal grille is deeper in proportion to the rest of the nose.
Equally like the Fiesta, the Focus’s four variants are externally differentiated largely by the bumper design:
The Titanium [beige] features chrome bars in its grille, with smooth surfaces and an upside-down shark-fin graphic separating the auxiliary lights from the lower grille.
The ST-Line [blue], which sits 10mm lower than the Titanium and Vignale versions, features bigger lower grilles and a honeycomb pattern in the main mouth.
The upmarket Vignale [purple] has a more intricate main grille pattern and thin chrome lining every opening (plus the whole DLO and the side sills), with a smiling black graphic taking in the lower grilles.
Finally, the Active [white] adds crossover touches with low-profile roof rails, plus black and silver plastic cladding around the bottom of the bumpers and around the wheel arches, arguably diluting the whole idea of an SUV to nothing more than wafer-thin semiotics and a pointless extra 30mm of ride height.
While the plastic panels vary across the above versions, all Focuses use the same sheet metal – be that five-door hatchback or estate bodywork. A large light catcher sits beneath a two-part waistline defined by two soft, sweeping curves that fade out in the bodyside before they can meet. Sat on top is a DLO with a strangely aimless bend in the beltline after the B-pillar, to make space for the rear haunch.
Essentially, though, the Focus does nothing out of the ordinary for a C-segment family car here.
The rear manages to be somewhat curvaceous, although the more squared-off corners of the rear bumper show evidence of aerodynamics taking over from design, in the name of improving efficiency – ditto the blacked-out fins flanking the rear spoiler. Well, Ford do claim this car is the “most aerodynamic in its class” after all.
On the estate, the DLO reaches so far back that the rear pillar starts to look thin and fragile, which seems a strange decision even if it brings more light into the cabin. Perhaps painting those aero fins flanking the rear screen to be body-coloured, or flipping the Hofmeister-esque kink at the DLO’s tail upside-down, would have added some visual strength back into the rear pillars.
Horizontal taillights accentuate visual width and fit the forms much better than the outgoing car’s melted-square affairs, on both body shapes.
Uninspired surfacing and graphics aside, however, the essential proportions – especially of the hatchback body – are just about spot-on for a car of this type, and are what really make the fourth Focus feel like it has a pleasing and agreeable exterior overall.
The enlarged new interior features soft-touch materials and clean, sensible surfaces. An eight-inch touchscreen stands proudly above it all, containing Ford’s latest generation of connective infotainment software (SYNC 3 and FordPass Connect) plus Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, to get your banging tunes through the B&O Play 675-watt stereo however you please.
Your connected phone is kept alive by a wireless charging pad enclosed inside the lower centre console.
Below the screen, inside a two-part ‘wing’ of trim, is a trapezium almost big enough to house its own screen, but which instead contains physical stereo controls and twin central air vents.
Further down are simple and clear a/c controls and connectivity sockets, while the transmission tunnel features, on the automatic version, a large rotary control for the gearbox, and large buttons for driving modes and systems beside two tandem cupholders (the manual version forsakes front cupholders entirely as you’ll clearly be too busy changing gear to bother with beverages).
Drivers will also notice Ford’s first head-up display in a European product.
The fourth Focus will go on sale in July, with a 1.0 turbo three-cylinder engine (84, 99 and 124-horsepower tunes available) and a development of the new Fiesta ST’s 1.5 triple (148 and 179 horsepower), with four-cylinder diesels displacing 1.5 litres (94, 118bhp) or 2.0 litres (148bhp only). A mild hybrid version utilising the 1.0 engine is expected to appear a year later.