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2008 Ford Focus, European Flair: Updated Around the World, Part I

Among the surprise reveals at the recent Frankfurt auto show was a new look for the European Ford Focus, a car related to the one we’re used to seeing on American roads in name and Blue Oval only. The Frankfurt reveal brought a look at the five-door hatchback, which goes into production later this year along with the three-door. More European bodystyles come on line early in 2008. On our return from Germany, we had the chance to drive the significantly changed North American 2008 Ford Focus.



Stylish Small Car
Changes to the European Focus bring Ford of Europe’s kinetic design theme to the C-segment car. These changes to Focus bring it closer to the fresher European S-Max and upcoming Kuga Crossover, and they wear nicely on the five-door.

Exterior changes to one of Europe’s best-selling small cars include not only front and rear fascias, but a new crease below the window line running from the front quarter panel to the rear of the vehicle and bodyside moldings are gone. Below a new and more voluptuously sculpted hood sit revised headlights, which can now be ordered with HID Bi-Xenon or adaptive front lighting systems, and more aggressive trapezoidal grilles. The smaller upper grill is capped with a chrome strip, while the larger lower grille gets a chrome strip depending on trim level. Along with revised taillights (available using LEDs) and bumpers expected come a revised tailgate and glass. The optional upper rear spoiler is also new.


Interior changes are less dramatic, with revisions to gauge cluster, new red backlighting, and revised audio/climate controls. Some trim levels take a revised center console with a movable armrest, more storage, and optional USB connector. Materials and colors have also been revised, including soft-touch materials for the instrument panel and upper door trim. Early in 2008, a Ford Power Button will also be added near the gear shift, enabling keyless go in the Focus.

Under the hood, most engine options carry on, but Ford offers its first dual-clutch manual transmission in the Focus. Early next year a six-speed unit developed with Getrag will be available mated to the 136HP 2.0L Duratorq diesel. This may make Ford the first to follow Audi/Volkswagen into offering the dual-clutch transmission, though the Chrysler Group has one in development and is building a new assembly plant to produce it. At AutoPacific, we’re big fans of Audi’s DSG, or S-Tronic as it is known with the 2008MY, and we expect good things of the Ford’s transmission as well.


ECOnetic: Diesel Meets Aerodynamics for Low CO2 Emissions
The ECOnetic is a cute name for a new range of Ford cars focused on lowering C02 emissions. The Focus ECOnetic is powered by a TDCi diesel and gets some further attention to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. The ECOnetic starts with a known 109HP 1.6L Duratorq engine, lowers the car for better aerodynamics (10mm in front, 8 mm in rear), adds a standard aero kit (front bumper skirt, rocker cladding, and rear spoiler), recalibrates both the engine and electro-hydraulic steering modules, and uses a new low-viscosity transmission oil. The recalibration applies to any Focus taking the 1.6L engine, for lower emissions without the aero enhancements. But choosing ECOnetic gives you a more aggressive look, allowing both environmental sensitivity and style.


Why is Euro Focus Different Than U.S. Focus?
The European Focus, with the upcoming automated manual and features like keyless go and adaptive front headlights, sells at a higher price point than in the States. International buyers place a premium on small cars and are willing to pay for traditionally uplevel features in those small cars; though sustained high fuel costs may be causing a shift, U.S. buyers still tend to choose small cars as entry cars and aren’t willing to pay for premium materials or features in them.
Future Comes into Focus
Ford will merge the next-generation North American and European Focus programs onto one global platform, though their next world-car project will arrive in the form of the smaller B-car before the merged Focus. With the converged platform, Ford could revive the hatchback bodystyles for the States and perhaps offer the coupe for international markets. The European Focus is offered with a retractable hardtop as well, and we can dream about that possibility, too. There will be differences between markets based on buyer preferences and legal requirements, but starting with the same basic building blocks for all markets has potential for cost savings as well as for better products.

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