Think back to the very early days of the previous decade and memories of awful mainstream rock compete with visions of the first-generation Ford Focus sedan. It was everywhere, and quite a few people has quite a few problems with theirs. By the end of the decade, however, those issues were mainly in the rear-view, as Ford was busy preparing to heap dual-clutch transmission woes onto its customers.
Now, the Focus sedan’s officially dead as the Blue Oval embarks on a nearly car-free voyage to the future. Only the faux crossover “Active” version of the next-gen 2019 Focus stands to see any customers in North America, but it’s a privilege reserved only for citizens of the United States. Canucks need not apply.
Too bad, as the next-gen Focus sedan’s a looker. Its designers aren’t exactly thrilled that so many countries have taken a pass.
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.
Ford may have shuffled production of the next-generation Focus to China, but it hasn’t given up on the model entirely. That’s sufficiently good news for small car fans, what with domestic automakers dropping small car models like a scalding spatula.
The 2019 Focus reveals itself in a London, England event on April 10th, but the automaker’s European division saw fit to post a classy black-and-white video in advance of the reveal. While European buyers can look forward to numerous bodystyles, it’s not going to be close to the same lineup over on this side of the pond. Ford wants the next Focus to move slightly upmarket while offering less overall choice. If buyers aren’t taking to the compacts in the same numbers as before, why not try to squeeze extra profit from each vehicle?
So, what can we learn from this teaser?
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?
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