Fourth-generation Ford Focus Goes Upmarket, Spawns an Active Variant Of Course

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
fourth generation ford focus goes upmarket spawns an active variant em of

Rarely does one hear an automaker point out that the next generation of a popular product is headed downmarket.

Even when a vehicle is repositioned in a lower end of the market, “downmarket” is the last word you’re going to hear out of an auto executive’s mouth. Instead, automakers up the value quotient, cater to the demands of discerning buyers, or find new production efficiencies we can pass on to the customer.

More often, automakers tout their new product as a move upmarket. So it is with Ford Motor Company’s fourth-generation Focus, according to Jim Farley, formerly of Ford of Europe and current head of Ford global markets. “It goes upmarket in exactly the same way as the new Fiesta,” Farley says.

Also like the new Fiesta, the 2019 Ford Focus will spawn an Active variant. Subaru Crosstrek here we come?

How Ford breaks down the Focus lineup in the United States, of course, is yet to be seen. While Ford of Europe will continue to build the Focus in Saarlouis, Germany, America’s Focus will sail across the Pacific from China.

Just as Ford’s European decision with the latest Fiesta concentrates on more premium content bears no resemblance to Ford’s plans for the Fiesta in North America — the old Fiesta is continuing here for now; the new Fiesta isn’t destined for America — so too Ford’s methodology for Europe’s Focus could differ from the Focus mission in America.

Farley acknowledges that a move upmarket will result in “slightly lower” Focus sales in the future, but that’s a sacrifice Ford is willing to make in order to secure its grip on the C-segment. In Europe, Automotive News says, the Focus is now the fourth-ranked vehicle in the category, not just behind the Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra but the Golf-related Skoda Octavia, as well.

Stateside, the aging Focus has seen its status plunge as consumers back gradually back away from cars. The Focus is outsold by five compact cars: Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Cruze, Elantra. Focus sales are down 12 percent so far this year in a category that’s down just 4 percent. Its market share fell from 12 percent in 2012, to 11 percent in 2013, to 10 percent in 2014, to 9 percent in 2015, to 8 percent in 2016 and so far in 2017.

Farley believes “urban utility products” are an area where the Ford brand’s European division is particularly strong. The degree to which that message crosses the Atlantic will be discovered as Americans reject or accept the new EcoSport.

As for moving the America’s Focus upmarket, it’s a strategy that would likely involve axing models such as the Focus S. The 2017 Focus S sedan is currently marked down to a decidedly downmarket $14,400.

Across the pond, Ford reincarnated the Vignale name with a concept that previewed the Focus CC hardtop convertible. To date, while the Vignale name has been used on top-spec versions of vehicles such as the Mondeo, Kuga, Edge, S-Max, and now the Fiesta, the Focus has not yet received the luxury designation.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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2 of 34 comments
  • Kosmo Kosmo on Oct 06, 2017

    I'll buy a Focus Crosstrek ST tomorrow. So that's one.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Oct 06, 2017

    Are we effectively getting a gen2 Chinese Escort? I'd be curious to see what the thing might look like in the flesh.

  • Jeff S I ignore the commercials. Never owned a Mazda but I would definitely look at one and seriously consider it. I would take a Honda, Toyota, or Mazda over any German vehicle at least they are long lasting, reliable, and don't cost an arm and a leg to maintain.
  • GregLocock The predictable hysteria and repetition of talking points in the meeja is quite funny. it does not divide Oxford into six zones. it restricts access at 6 locations , one on each road, to reduce congestion in the town centre. Florence, which faces the same issue, traffic and narrow historic streets, lined with historic buildings, simply closed the entire town centre off. Don't see anybody whining about that.
  • Jeff S I have rented from Hertz before and never encountered this but if I had I would sue them. Would not want a gun pointed at me and thrown in jail for renting a car.
  • Arthur Dailey I did use a service pre COVID to get the pricing that the dealers were alleged to have paid the manufacturer. It also provided 'quotes' from multiple dealers .
  • Arthur Dailey Has anyone else concluded that we may have a new 'troll' on this site?