By on April 10, 2018


We appear to be entering into a minor renaissance for modestly sized cars, thanks largely to global influence and technological advancement. The timing couldn’t be better, either — with crossovers usurping more of the market every day, these little scamps need all the help they can get. That’s especially true of small cars with declining sales. Like, say, the Ford Focus.

While the third generation of the model enjoyed a massive sales surge in its rookie season, it’s been losing volume ever since. That’s to be expected of any maturing model, but the Focus went from 245,992 U.S. deliveries in 2012 to just 158,385 in 2017. So Ford is setting up the fourth generation on its new C2 platform, regardless of what country it’s sold in, as well as some big changes in terms of equipment and styling.

However, we’re left wondering how these updates will translate when the model makes it way to North America. The new Focus hits the streets of Europe and China later this year, but won’t arrive in the United States until the second half of 2019, presumably as a 2020 model. That gives Ford time to adapt the vehicle but, with the exception of some powertrain changes, we’re not entirely sure what to expect. 

Euro and Chinese-spec Focuses (Foci?) come with 1.0 and 1.5-liter gasoline motors or 1.5 and 2.0-liter diesel motors. Ford lists a manual transmission and eight-speed automatic. The C2 platform also allows for electrification, though Ford hasn’t said anything on BEVs or hybrids yet. Trim options include Vignale, ST, Active, and the upscale Titanium for Europe, while China seems to only get ST and Titanium in addition to a base model.

Active is probably the most curious trim. By adding ground clearance and body cladding, Ford essentially converts the Focus into a crossover (like it did with the Fiesta Active). With so many SUVs already on offer, we’re not sure the company would bring something like this to the States, but we can’t rule it out.

Aesthetically, the model takes on a more curvaceous design. Haunches are more pronounced and folds have been smoothed, but the overall shape remains familiar. There’s also an LED swoosh that runs through the headlamps, making it easily to distinguish from the old model at night. We’re sure most will think it’s a subtle improvement, while those who oppose it will still find it tolerable.

On the inside, Ford promises more comfort and space than the outgoing model. An electric parking brake (yuck) and rotary shift dial (gross) frees up front-seat space and provides easier access to storage containers and cup holders. Meanwhile, Ford moved a bunch of switches to the touchscreen, making for a narrower center console that has soft points for knee comfort. Available as a SYNC3-equipped 8-inch unit, Ford made no mention of the standard screen’s size. Regardless, we’re hoping the Focus retains some of the more important knobs and buttons. Touch controls are great, but not everyone likes them and a poor execution can make a vehicle extremely difficult to enjoy.

Ford says that, despite the longer wheelbase, the new Focus’ overall dimensions remain unchanged. Thanks to that altered wheelbase and a flatter floor, rear passengers will be treated to an additional 2.4 inches of shoulder space, 2 inches of knee clearance, and 2.8 inches of legroom compared the old model. Storage is also up on the hatchback; with the seats folded, the wagon is capable of housing 58 cubic feet of junk. While impressive, there were no specs provided on the standard 5-door, so we’re not ready to assume a gargantuan improvement across the board.

Technical updates abound on the 2019 Focus. However, unlike Toyota, Ford hasn’t said it will offer them as standard equipment — availability will vary by region. That’s fine by us, especially if you’re not into occasionally intrusive driving aids. This could also be part of the brand’s cost-cutting strategy. Ford said it’s reducing the number of configurations by as much as 92 percent versus the previous Focus as a way to minimize cost and complexity. Meanwhile, Toyota is busy cramming Safety Sense into a lot of its new models. Ford could still do this with its own electronic aids for the U.S. market, but has yet to say anything definitive.

Whether or not any of it becomes standard, America should at least have the option to purchase a Focus equipped with adaptive cruise control and stop and go functionality, sign recognition, automatic lane-centering, advanced parking assist, and evasive steering assist. The best item has to be Ford’s adapting lighting system, which uses a front-mounted camera to “steer” headlights to where you need it. It’s also supposed to account for road signs, which we hope means it won’t try to shut down the high beams whenever you come within 10 miles of a reflective one.

Lastly, FordPass will allow drivers to monitor their vehicle via phone. It’ll help them start it when it’s cold, find it when it gets lost, and remotely lock the doors. There are other niceties, like a hands-free tailgate and a panoramic sunroof on the wagon, but we’ve no idea what will arrive in America. Ford will let us know more closer to the model’s U.S. launch date, which is still over a year away.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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76 Comments on “Ford Goes Global With New Focus; What Does It Mean for America?...”


  • avatar
    brettc

    Looks good overall. The wagon is very sexy. Of course we’ll unfortunately never see the long-roof variant here.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I would not guess that that is a Ford. It looks more Japanese, or even Korean. Visibility looks to be improved though. I still have no interest in purchasing a Chinese car, however.

    • 0 avatar
      EMedPA

      I don’t think the Made In China label will help, either.

      I still think the crap DCT killed the Focus and Fiesta in the US market. Nice to see Ford has come to its senses and gone to a (hopefully) better transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        @EMedPA

        We’ll see what happens with US-China trade relations. Americans don’t buy that many small cars. Foreign markets have a competitive advantage manufacturing vehicles of this type. America is the land of the pickup, the crossover, the SUV, and medium-heavy duty trucks of all kinds. America is the land of long-haul trucking, too, and RV’s and other recreational vehicles. If foreign countries stop blocking access to their markets with tariffs and backdoor protectionism, including joint-venture requirements, maybe Americans will care less about Chinese auto imports.

        Xi Jinping signaled that he was ready to deal yesterday. He specifically mentioned automobiles so we’ll see where it goes. The Chinese have been considering repeal of their joint-venture provisions for nearly a decade. Maybe it will finally happen, and the Chinese domestics will stop pilfering foreign vehicle designs and manufacturing techniques.

        Maybe someday we will see Chinese farmers driving around in US-built pickups and SUVs, rather than these Dongfeng, Huanghei, JAC, Zhongxing, BAIC knock-offs.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          The fact that the Chinese have been “considering” the JV restrictions for a decade, while siphoning billions in foreign revenues, tells you how serious they are about changing. The North Koreans learned from them as well. One one hand, they’ll “consider” denuclearization. On the other, they’ll have the US in range within a few months.

          Masters of the waiting game, they are.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            @ TMA1

            They are master’s of the waiting game, but it may not be working out for them in this instance. The Chinese are discovering that JV requirements are making their auto industry fall further behind, and domestic market share has been trending down for two decades.

            It turns out that JV requirements are so lucrative for the state-owned manufacturers that they don’t really care to develop their automobiles. In some instances, they’ve even gotten too lazy to steal IP, and their manufacturing, design, and simulation techniques are waning as well, relative to foreign competitors.

            Of course, we have to remain hyper-skeptical, since corruption is the grease that lubricates the wheels of commerce in China. Regardless, Xi Jinping’s remarks yesterday were encouraging.

        • 0 avatar
          EMedPA

          @TW5: Agreed that if this was the new Escape being built in China that it would be a bigger deal. Maybe Americans will be ready to buy a Chinese built Ford in the near future. It wasn’t that long ago that Korean cars had the reputation of being garbage, after all, and now a Kia or Hyundai is a perfectly reasonable vehicle choice. And since the small car market in the US has sunk like the Titanic, I can understand why Ford might not think setting up an assembly line for the Focus is worth the expense.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          TW5,
          I would wait and see about the US 25% tariff induced pickup truck advantage.

          “A 25% tariff on US pickup truck imports is “stupid trade” …. Donald Trump.”

          The Cinese ain’t stupid.

        • 0 avatar
          Ce he sin

          “Maybe someday we will see Chinese farmers driving around in US-built pickups and SUVs, rather than these Dongfeng, Huanghei, JAC, Zhongxing, BAIC knock-offs.”

          Maybe, but there isn’t much demand. If there was, it would be cheaper to make them in China and would also avoid foreign currency fluctuations. For the same reason that BMW X models are made in America and Hyundais all over the world.

      • 0 avatar
        Johnster

        And don’t forget the cheap early versions of MyFordTouch.

    • 0 avatar
      earthwateruser

      Agreed. I’ll never buy a car made in China, regardless of manufacturer. I’m not a “Made in USA” zealot, but Chinese made cars and trucks are well beyond where I draw my line.

    • 0 avatar
      Asdf

      There are not many things in the world that are guaranteed, but one can safely say that a Chinese-made Focus sold in the US is both a 100 % crap guarantee as well as a 100 % flop guarantee. Well done, Ford!

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Love the snowflake wheels on the wagon.

    • 0 avatar

      This!

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      I’m happy with the new trend of black matte powder-coating everything except the face of the wheel. It does wonders for maintaining the appearance of clean wheels, and for maintenance. Nothing worse than trying to scrub brake dust of out wheel clearcoat that is losing its battle with nature.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        My GTI Sport has such wheels, and I very much agree that they are super easy to keep looking good. But I still think it would look better with silver wheels (not enough to spend money though!).

        At least the Sport wheels are better looking than what they put on all the other GTIs – I don’t care for those at all.

  • avatar
    1500cc

    When referring to the car, the plural of “Focus” is “Focuses”. Names don’t follow the same rules as regular nouns.

    /grammar nazi

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Thank you for offering a solution. I don’t even care if it’s the correct one. It’s been years with the whole (Foci? Prii?) parenthesis. At least five years. Just make up your mind already.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Love the wagon…in vain, no doubt.

  • avatar
    JGlanton

    I really liked the Focus style and abilities and gave it a serious look.

    Sales on the new Focus were great. Then the reliability data came out… 2.75 times as many repairs as a Civic. 4 times as many repairs as a Corolla. Could that be a clue?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Some context:

      Let’s say a Corolla’s rate of repair is .25 per year. That means a Focus needs one repair per year.

      The definition of “unreliable” ain’t what it used to be.

      • 0 avatar
        St.George

        If that repair is a transmission, it’s kinda a big deal!

        Full disclosure, I like Ford products in general and wish them well.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          In the overwhelming majority of cases, that “transmission repair” was a firmware update.

          That said, the old transmission was an utterly terrible idea. I have rented 4-5 Focuses so equipped over the years. A couple were more-or-less fine, but even then, to someone who is used to torque-converter transmissions I can totally see why they would complain about it. A couple were atrocious, either needing the update(s), abused, or broken. Nothing that would likely strand you, but a long way from right.

          • 0 avatar
            Lynchenstein

            Yeah my 08 Ranger had a horribly clunky transmission, but the firmware update was like magic. If only the vandalism could be corrected so easily.

          • 0 avatar
            larrystew

            I don’t know that I’d say “overwhelming majority.” I’m on my third clutchpack on my 2013. No amount of firmware updating solves mechanical failure. So far, this one has lasted longer than the first two. Whether it was the wrong revision clutchpack that I received in the first two, who knows? Overall, this one has been, for the most part, fine. I’ve always driven manuals until this car, so I understand the push and pull of the momentum. This transmission drives fine as long as it’s mechanically sound; granted, I can’t drive it aggressively due to downshift lag, but normally, yes.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          OK, but is the complaint that prompts the repair “transmission broken,” or “I don’t like the way the transmission shifts”?

          I think in the Focus’ case, it’s definitely more the latter.

          • 0 avatar
            1500cc

            @FreedMike

            It’s a bit of both, at least in a friend’s case. It shuddered terribly taking off from a start, even after replacing the clutches and module under warranty. Then it almost stranded her in the middle of nowhere when it quit driving and the warning lights came on. After talking to roadside assistance she was able to limp it to safety. So I’d lean more to the “transmission broken” camp.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    No DCT means this will do fine, unless Ford royally c0cks something else up.

    There will be a few people around the edges who won’t buy it because it’s Made in China. The difference in costs will swamp any lost profits from those buyers. Most people won’t know, and most people who know won’t care.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Is it just TTAC or do we live in an age where product announcements include the diagonal size of the infotainment display but nothing about the power-train?

    From another publication’s information, it looks like the hated DCT is gone and replaced by an 8 speed automatic and the gas engines announced so far are 1.0 and 1.5 turbos.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Longer wheelbase same overall size = CAFE 2025. Unfortunate. US regulations are already screwing with global automobiles. Thanks, Obama.

    Overall though, Ford seems to have a good job with this new design. Climate control appears to be switchgear. Hopefully, the volume knob is, too. Should be a winner if the basic switchgear is in tact. Unfortunately, the American market probably won’t get any of the manual transmission options available in Europe and elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      We’ll be lucky to even get a hatchback, let alone a wagon or a manual. Ford wants these money losers in as few configurations as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I see no sedan in the picture above. Though there probably will be one, Chinese and Indians like sedans even more than Americans do.

        I bet they offer the “Outback” version here – isn’t the Crosstrek the best selling Impreza? I see the stupid things everywhere, even here in FL where Subarus are not really that common.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        I suspect there will only be a manual in the sporting versions.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      TW5,
      The US only sold 158 000 Foci in 2017, chicken feed compared to the global 1.1 million Foci sold.

      So, CAFE will have little to do with the design of the Focus.

      Maybe it’s about time the US moves toward the UNECE vehicle harmonisation in vehicle design.

      Oh, before you start it’s a GLOBAL standard, hence Aussies have much bigger vehicles, then the Japanese, who don’t have EVs like Norway, who don’t drive diesel like the French.

      It’s a standard in vehicle design to facilitate motor vehicle trade, something you spruik on about. So, maybe, just maybe the US could profit and export if it started changing it’s way. You know build exportable Foci to fill in part of that huge 1.1 million Focus market.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      https://www.statista.com/statistics/202769/worldwide-production-forecast-of-the-ford-focus/

      The link.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    It’s a good looking little car but gawd I hate rotary shifters….and electric parking brakes are not far behind. How are you supposed to do parking lot emergency brake 180 turns in the snow?

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Mazda called. They want their styling department back.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Well they can’t make the plastic any thinner….

    Or make the Powershift shift any shiftier….

  • avatar
    PwrdbyM

    “What does it means for America?”

    I can’t deicde if this is a typo or I’m reading a cheerleading newsletter with pink font.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Too little, too late.

    The goodwill for Focus and Fiesta is gone. No matter how much good some people say about Focus or Fiesta ST(feel free to fill in Bark’s name here), or Focus RS, the majority of sales was the junk dual clutch transmission.

    Ford is dead in compact market. Add to that made in China, and it is irrelevant.

    If you want compacts, buy Corolla or Civic. Case closed.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Dead in the US. Ford compacts are still relevant in Europe, where the DCT didn’t destroy the cars’ reputation.

      • 0 avatar
        Ce he sin

        The Americans do seem to obsess about Ford DCTs which I guess is partially because they buy so many automatics and partially because Ford use different ones for different markets. I think the Americans get the dry clutch one which is the more troublesome of the two.

  • avatar

    I love the look, and have always enjoyed the Focus since its intro in 2000. The wagon and hatch are very sexy and almost look French

    I had an original generation ZX5 and it was a great car. Superb handling for the time, lots of room, and a unique, Euro style.

    I wanted to buy the current generation, but it lost so much practicality with the tight back seats and massive console. It just felt so cramped. The driving magic was still there, but couldn’t offset the shortcomings with the interior.

    Ford seems to have addressed those concerns with the longer wheelbase and narrower console. But………the made in China tag is a deal breaker. After visiting China in 2013 and seeing factory conditions (and that their culture is driven to cutting corners), there’s no way I would buy any car, regardless of brand, from there

    • 0 avatar
      Booick

      If ford used the space to put better, larger seats in, that would be great. The seats were 2 inches too narrow for my preference. I don’t need something in a focus to hug me like a race car, and I certainly don’t weight 147 lbs anymore.

      • 0 avatar

        I find the Focus seats both small, and lacking in support. They’re just flat little squares.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          My friend just bought a new Focus. After driving it for half an hour, my back was killing me.

          • 0 avatar

            I had an SEL sedan last week as a loaner from my mechanic. The PowerShift was terrible (I thought they bailed on it some time ago), and everything felt very old in there. The ride was harsh as well, I suppose to match with the sporty steering.

            The Sync was easy to pair up at least, and the doors had a nice solid feel on closure.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Funny, the seats were one of my favorite things about the Focus.

          This means, of course, that there is literally an a** for every seat.

          (Powershift should have been burned long ago, though.)

  • avatar
    Booick

    This apes the Mazda 3 style to a near ridiculous extent, from exterior to interior. Having said that, I like the Mazda 3 and would probably just buy that rather than this.

    I’m not going to buy a made in China car, no matter how good it is. I think compact seats (especially ford’s) are particularly awful, and I like the dual clutch powershift that is being eliminated (but I did drive manuals for a decade, so thats probably why I like it), if they are going back to a regular automatic, it had better be damn good. Also, rumor is the hatch is being eliminated from US Markets, so all we get is the sedan. I would never buy the focus sedan.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Curious to see what engines we get and what will become of the ST/RS. Those 3 inches of legroom should translate to a back seat that is usable with child seats and normal sized adults. Sedan looks horrible but the hatch is OK. Interior is a nice improvement. EB 4s need an update; hopefully they will get one for this.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Pricing in Europe puts it in BMW 1 series territory. Ford said should be much cheaper.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “Ford Goes Global With New Focus; What Does It Means for America?”

    Hopefully it means a better car for Americans. But I’m not betting on it.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    I’d love to know how many of those 158,000 Focuses went to retail customers in 2017. From my observations, the few that did were lower-trim versions, probably sold at steep discounts, and this appears to have been the case since the cheap refresh Ford did a few years back. Titaniums and hatchbacks are pretty thin on the ground, which is interesting since multiple competitors have successfully crept upmarket and introduced hatchbacks that sell respectably.

    In other words, yet another Ford product that debuted to great fanfare, turned out to be half baked and was ultimately left to rot while the competition passed it by. Just like the original Focus.

    I love how North America is a total afterthought in the unveiling. Only one picture that I could find of the sedan and it’s wearing a Chinese number plate. No concrete statements about what will be offered here, just that it will eventually show up. Ford treats its home market as though it’s a foreign country, nice.

    I can’t wait to see how badly Ford dumbs the new car down for the American market and turns off the remaining customers who aren’t insulted by Chinese production. Then Ford will end up discontinuing it here altogether, blaming “changing consumer trends” or some other nonsense.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB

    Yeah, this falls deep into the category of TMI, but I just abused myself while looking at that wagon. Normally I do that while looking at the Mondeo wagon, but I prefer them a little more petite.

    On the other hand (sorry, unintended pun there…) adaptive cruise control, stop and go functionality, sign recognition, automatic lane-centering, advanced parking assist, evasive steering assist, monitor their vehicle via phone, start it when it’s cold, find it when it gets lost, remotely lock the doors… I have two words for the people who desire this stuff: BUS PASS.

    (Though I have the headlights that pivot around corners in my MKZ and I do like those. Though at my age I’m afraid to go out at night so there’s that.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Judging by the comments here you’d think China is the only country manufacturing Foci. Aren’t they made in South Africa, Thailand, EU as well as China.

    This does highlight one thing about the US car market. Amercian’s only want to pay sh!t for a car or vehicle overall, hence many cars will be sh!t. Hence the issue with manufacturing Foci or any other small vehicle in the US and the relatively low end BOF SUVs and pickups. Most other manufacturers of large SUVs produce better quality vehicles.

    It’s all well and good to whine, but look at your expectations in a vehicle and what you receive.

    I wonder why you guys get the cars you do?


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