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2007 Detroit Auto Show: 2008 Ford Focus

Ford’s Commitment to Small Cars
At the 2007 North American International Auto Show, the 2008 Focus was among Ford’s reveals. After Alan Mullaly introduced the Five Hundred’s freshening, Mark Fields was on hand to talk about the Focus. Fields said the Focus proves their ongoing commitment to small cars, but we weren’t quite convinced of the enthusiasm behind the tagline. Ford’s real commitment to small cars in particular will be evidenced later in the decade, when a smaller entry is introduced. We do see a stronger commitment to maintaining their product line overall with this Focus update, as too often Ford has introduced models and left them to languish later in their lifecycles. The Focus last had a major change for the 2005 model year, and is due for a freshening. It does support Ford’s claim of understanding that any Way Forward will require constant attention to their product lineup.




Focus Now has Two Bodystyles Rather Than Four – Hatchbacks and Wagon Gone
With this generation, Ford launches Focus with a two-door coupe and four-door sedan, skipping the wagon and five-door hatchback. Missing, or some might simply say re-interpreted, is the three-bar grille. Focus instead has two bars and very cat-eye headlamps. This Focus, however, is a rework of the current platform, not an all-new vehicle. Apparently, we’ll have to wait until the all-new vehicle arrives for Focus to be fully integrated to the new family style. In the meantime, the 2008 Focus suffers with one of the least attractive new Ford faces in the line.

Inside, it is a better story. Improvements there make for a better-looking interior with better materials. As the interior is where drivers spend most of their time, improvements there could help overcome the less attractive face. The climate control system is updated as well, with quieter and more efficient operation. The 2008 Focus gets many of the airbag systems Ford first introduced for SUVs, including the Safety Canopy side air curtain system.

Aside from styling, the suspension and chassis were revised for quieter ride and better body stiffness, as well as reduced weight. The Focus continues with a 2.0L DOHC 16v I4, available in flexible fuel form as the 2.0E, mated to a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission.
New Technology
Focus is one of the twelve vehicles to debut with the Ford Sync option this year, which uses software developed by Microsoft to allow voice operation of cell phones, including the ability to access the phone book and read back text messages, as well as a variety of digital music players or music stored on an portable drive. One of the more important aspects of Sync is that it is designed to be upgradable, and therefore can keep up with the dizzying pace of new cell phones and MP3 players. The system does not include a hard drive for storing music.

Interior lighting is also a new playground for manufacturers, who are incorporating LEDs across their ranges for softer ambient lighting. In the case of the Focus, there are seven lighting colors to choose from that illuminate areas including cupholders and footwells. This approach to lighting makes a car’s interior a more pleasant place to be at night for driver and passengers, without being bright enough to distract oncoming traffic. Focus’s center stack, HVAC, and audio controls are also all revised for easier use as well as more attractive design.

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