Ford Focus: Quality, Performance and Refinement
Since Focus was launched in North America as a 2000 model, auto enthusiasts have frequently praised the car for its sporty handling, modern design and exceptionally roomy cabin. In each model year, Ford advanced the
basic concept, and improved quality. Today, J.D. Power and Associates ranks Focus well above the industry average in its Initial Quality Study.
Focus Chief Engineer John Sidelko said the priority for 2005 was to add more refinement to areas customers can see, and make a bold statement in what they feel and hear - particularly in the "stop and go" department. We have refined the Focus' exterior styling and given it a smart new interior with a very clean, very contemporary
instrument panel design. We have taken a great handling car and made it steer, ride and stop better. And we've backed up a great chassis with some of the most sophisticated, powerful and 'green' four-cylinder engines you can buy in any car," he said.
For 2005, Focus will again offer four unique body styles but with new, simpler model and trim designations. The range includes a three-door hatchback (ZX3), a four-door sedan (ZX4), a five-door hatchback (ZX5) and a station wagon
(ZXW). The entry-level trim series is S, followed by SE and SES, which have higher levels of standard equipment and unique options.
New for 2005, a Focus ZX4 ST performance sedan has been added to the line up. This sedan will marry chassis components from Ford of Europe's Focus ST170 and the SVT Focus with a 150-horsepower, 2.3-liter Duratec engine.
Cleaner and more powerful engines:
The 2005 Focus, like all other vehicles Ford will launch in 2004, will benefit from
the company's "Revolution Under the Hood" - a massive undertaking that began about four years ago to improve powertrain performance, refinement, fuel economy and emissions. Ford estimates that the 2005 Focus fleet will produce 32 percent less smog-forming pollution than its 2004 fleet - which was already exceptionally clean. But at the same time, base horsepower will rise 24 percent and fuel economy is expected to improve slightly.
Three engines will be offered:
new 136-horsepower, 2.0-litre Duratec 20 dual overhead cam (DOHC), in-line four-cylinder (I-4) engine replaces both the base 110-horsepower, 2.0L SPI single overhead cam I-4 engine and the available 130-horsepower, DOHC 2.0-litre Zetec I-4 engines offered since the North American debut of Focus in 2000.
A 150-horsepower 2.3-liter Duratec 23 DOHC I-4 engine will power the new Focus ST performance sedan, which will be available in all 50 states. This free-revving engine is derived from
the same family as the Duratec 20 but its larger displacement and performance-tuned exhaust help it produce 10 percent more horsepower. Torque is 153 foot-pounds, a 16 percent increase for exceptionally strong off-the-line and mid range acceleration. The Duratec 20 and 20E are available with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Focus ST is offered with the Duratec 23 engine and a five-speed manual. Horsepower and torque figures are estimates.
In California, New
York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, a super-clean 20E version of the Duratec 20 is the standard engine. All Focuses powered by the Duratec 20E meet California's Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle tailpipe standard and have zero fuel system evaporative emissions in order to qualify as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle. This means the 20E version of Focus is cleaner than some hybrid electric vehicles.
A stronger body:
Focus designer Larry Erickson calls the look more upscale
and aspirational. The new hood and fenders fall away less sharply than the original design so the car appears more substantial, particularly in a three-quarter view. Detail changes include new headlamps with reshaped clear lenses, a larger grille with a new crosshatch pattern ringed in chrome, and a new fascia that incorporates a wide lower air intake and new round fog lamps. To better resist dents and dings, a new harder steel alloy is used for the hood, and the plastic fascia is 11 percent
thicker. Sedan models also receive new taillamps and a new rear bumper fascia that looks sportier and has a more finely detailed lower valance.
Focus Designer Larry Erickson calls the look more "upscale and aspirational." The new hood and fenders fall away less sharply than the original design so the car appears more substantial, particularly in a three-quarter view. Detail changes include larger headlamps with reshaped clear lenses, a larger grille with a new
crosshatch pattern ringed in chrome, and a new fascia that incorporates a wide lower air intake and new round fog lamps (some models).
To better resist dents and dings, a new harder steel alloy is used for the hood, and the plastic fascia is now 11 per cent thicker. Sedan models also receive new tail lamps and a new rear bumper fascia that looks sportier and has a more finely detailed lower valance.
The most dramatic design departure
from the original Focus is the new car's interior. The instrument panel is an all-new design that directly reflects the priorities Ford has set for its interiors: it is clean and modern looking, highly functional and built of high-quality materials.
"Using simpler forms and straightforward, easy-to-use instruments and controls allows you to achieve a very high level of craftsmanship," said Erickson.
"We then use colour and texture to create a personality for each vehicle." The instrument panel is symmetrical, with the driver and front passenger areas divided by two rectangular climate control registers, the hazard switch and a shallow centre stack for the audio and climate control systems.
Four different interior colour themes are offered across the model line up. A monochromatic charcoal environment is offered on Focus ST, ZX3 and ZX5.
All models except the Focus ST offer a two-tone Flint interior, while the Focus ZX4 and ZXW also offer a two-tone Pebble interior. On two-tone models, the lower portions of the instrument panel and door trim panels are finished in a lighter shade, to make the cabin feel airier. Both cloth and leather seating surfaces are available, with Focus ST offering unique woven fabrics or a preferred suede seating surfaces with leather trim.
Several storage areas have been
designed into the new instrument panel, including a large glove box, a storage drawer for six compact discs located by the driver's left knee and an open storage space located just below the climate control dials.
A standard floor console houses the shifter assembly, two cupholders, the parking brake lever and controls for certain optional features, including the traction control system. An overhead console, which includes a sunglass holder and space for a garage door opener, is
a new option. Additional storage can be found in the front doors, which now include molded-in bottle or cup holders.
Chassis Refinements Build on a Focus Strength:
The soul of every Focus is its chassis. Rack-and-pinion steering and a four-wheel independent suspension that uses MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link "Control Blade" design in the rear combine to deliver nimble handling with a smooth, well-controlled ride.
Entry-level "S" models now ride on 15-inch steel wheels and all-season tires, instead of 14-inch designs. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels are available on the SE series with 16-inch alloy wheels available on the SES series.
In the each body style, "SE" and "SES" series sedans and hatchbacks, and all wagons are fitted with 21 mm front and a 20 mm rear stabilizer bars for even sharper steering turn in, reduced body roll and better tracking.
The rear stabilizer bar also allows lower rear spring rates to be used, for good ride quality.
The Focus ZX4 ST delivers an even higher level of performance. It rides on unique 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, Pirelli P205/50R16 all-season radials and uses the same front struts and rear shocks as the European Focus ST170 and the 2004 Focus SVT, which are about 50 per cent stiffer than the ones used with the SE and SES suspension.
Customers already familiar with Focus's
dynamic capabilities will notice an even higher level of braking performance. Most models continue to use a combination of front disc and rear drum brakes.
But for 2005, new brake linings are used and total brake swept area is increased by 17 per cent, thanks to a one inch increase in front rotor diameter to 15 inches. The new linings have a less aggressive initial "bite" but cover a larger swept area so the new system is responsive and easy to modulate. In addition, the linings will be quieter, last longer and generate less black brake dust than the old design. The larger rotors are expected to yield shorter stopping distances, improved brake cooling and reduce the risk that a rotor might warp under severe duty.
The ST model uses the same front brakes but adds rear-wheel disc brakes, which are more responsive than drum brakes for even shorter stopping distances.