2010 Paris Auto Show
What is it?
2012 Ford Focus
What's special about it?
The debut of the 2012 Ford Focus might be one of the least anticipated unveilings of the 2010 Paris Auto Show.
This has nothing to do with the car itself (which with this rework will be in its third generation) and a lot to do with the fact that Ford pulled forward the unveiling of the Focus five-door hatch and four-door sedan, and showed the cars (one without an interior) at the Detroit auto show some nine months ago. But as the lead model of Ford's new C-segment platform which will sell a kabillion units worldwide, there's nothing at the Paris show that comes even close to the level of significance of the new Focus. No, not even that Citroen concept car apparently inspired by the Fiat Jolly and co-branded with Lacoste.
When the 2012 Ford Focus makes its appearance in the United States early next year, it'll be offered with just one engine, a DOHC direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder making an estimated 160 horsepower and 146 pound-feet of torque. This will be followed a year later by a turbocharged 2.0-liter that will power the high-performance Focus ST model.
The primary transmission will be a six-speed dual-clutch "PowerShift" unit, which in some iterations will have manual shifting capability (unlike the similar transmission in the Fiesta). A five-speed conventional manual will be offered, but only for cheapskates and regular folks: It won't be offered in high-end SEL and Titanium trim lines. Like Chevrolet is doing with the Focus-competitor Cruze, Ford is touting an estimated 40 mpg on the highway. Also like Chevrolet this is the result of a special model in the lineup. In Ford's case it's called the SFE and comes with low-rolling-resistance tires and ugly, flat wheel covers among other bits.
This is part of a push by Ford to improve the efficiency of the new model. The biggest single item in this regard is a so-called active grille shutter system mounted behind the upper and lower air intakes. At high speed, a single electric motor powers the louvers shut to reduce air resistance. The louvers open at low speed for engine cooling. This, along with careful side-mirror sculpting, smooth underbody panels and other details gives the new Focus a slippery drag coefficient of 0.297. Nonetheless, Ford is not yet willing to estimate fuel economy for non-SFE Focus models.
At 104.2 inches the 2012 Ford Focus rides on a wheelbase a little more than an inch longer than that of the outgoing model. But it's width that changes most. It balloons up almost 4 inches from the slender old U.S.-market model. With the B-segment Fiesta having recently debuted in the U.S., the Focus had to grow to make room. Ford's small-car lineup will now be consistent with that of its European operation. Like the U.S. market Fiesta, the 2012 Ford Focus will be offered as a five-door hatchback or a four-door sedan.
And it's not just a size upgrade from the old model either, as the 2012 model is a more upscale automobile altogether: stiffer of structure, safer, quieter and with a classier cabin. And you may have just about any option available in the world of Ford in the Focus. This includes optional items such as active-park assist, a voice-activated navigation system and a rearview camera. The range-topping SEL and Titanium models are that rarest of birds in America, a proper premium hatchback. But even the volume SE model will be a pricier, nicer thing than the outgoing model. The SE, which is available only as a four-door sedan, appears to be the rental-fleet special and even it has what would have been the upgrade engine on any previous Ford small car.
All of this sounds expensive, right? We think so, too. How much we have no idea, because Ford is not even whispering about it yet. With the Civic, Corolla, Cruze, Forte, Golf, Jetta, Mazda 3 and a whole bunch of other potential competitors vying for your dollars, Ford is going to have to be careful with the pricing.
Edmunds.com says: We're still waiting for the turbocharged ST model in 2012, but by the looks of it we would certainly recommend that you at least test-drive the Focus before making a move in the crowded C-segment. — Daniel Pund, Senior Editor, Detroit