All-New 2019 Ford Focus Revealed
The all-new 2019 Ford Focus has been revealed…it’ll arrive Down Under towards the end of this year.
THIS IS THE all-new Ford Focus, a hatchback to be rolled out across the world in coming months. It’s pretty much an entirely new car bumper-to-bumper, tyres-to-roof. Ford figures that people will be attracted to the new style, and then rationally justify buying one by the improvements in safety, economy, connectivity, and cabin room. Australian buyers can expect to see the new Focus Down Under towards the end of this year; pricing and final specification will be released closer to the local launch.
It all stems from a brand-new bodyshell and platform, which Ford calls the C2 platform. The car is only a little longer than before, but has a longer wheelbase for more rear-seat space. Meanwhile its new frontal structure improves crash safety without an ugly nose overhang.
Although the front end has a familiar Ford look to the radiator grille, the sides are more softly surfaced, and the creases are less fussy. The glazed area is stretched into an almond shape. Are we the only ones seeing a little Mazda3 in this?
Sitting in the front, the look and substance of the dash is very different to what went before. The design is cleaner and materials softer, and reduction in the number of buttons gives it a calmer air. An optional head-up display carries more detailed information than others in this class.
The information and entertainment system is Ford’s Sync3, a setup we’ve praised in our recent Ford reviews. For the new Focus, Sync3 is even better because it has a built-in SIM. That means it’s permanently internet-connected (assuming there’s a mobile signal) and can get detailed real-time traffic information, streaming music, pinpoint-position emergency rescue and other useful apps.
Phone mirroring is also included, and there’s the option of an inductive pad for charging the device. Music lovers ought to enjoy the optional B&O Play hi-fi, rated at 675 watts.
In the back seat, legroom is better, in fact class-leading we’d say having sat there too. Foot space for three people in the rear is better too, because the floor shape has changed and the lower part of the front seats has been redesigned. That’s clever detailing that makes a big difference to comfort.
There’s a whole new bag of driver-assist features on top versions, bundled together as what Ford calls Co-Pilot360. It does all the things you’d expect these days, including auto-braking if it senses vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists in your path. It also has blind-spot detection and cross-traffic detection when you’re reversing. Evasive Steering Assist will nudge the steering towards where the car’s sensors see clear space, if a head-on accident looks imminent.
It’s the driver-assist part of the package that puts the Focus at the head of its class. Cameras and radars sense not only the lines on the road but the position of other vehicles ahead and to the sides, to nudge the Focus into the centre of its lane rather than merely intervening when the car is about to cross a line. With radar adaptive cruise control operating from traffic-jam dawdling (if the car has auto transmission) right up to highway speeds, and changing your set speed in response to limit signs, the car has semi-autonomous ability.
Depending on the price you pay, there are three levels of headlamps, culminating in a multi-LED setup that shapes and the beam according to whether there’s oncoming traffic, and will aim to the left or right appropriately when the onboard camera spots a sharp bend or roundabout sign.
The engine and transmission palette has been thoroughly overhauled. The three-cylinder petrol format isn’t just used for the 1.0-litre but the 1.5-litre too. Power range is up to 134kW for the 1.5-litre, the same tune as in the new Euro Fiesta ST. The three-cylinder can drop down to operating just two, when it’s not working hard. That system seals shut one cylinder’s valves, reducing pumping loss and saving fuel. Other four-, six-pot and V8 engines use such a system, but never before a triple.
The diesel range is 1.5-litre and 2.0. The smaller one is brand new, the bigger one heavily revised. Their emissions compliance is good for several years to come, says Ford.
Locally, we won’t get the 1.0L three-cylinder petrol but we will get two 1.5L engines, one a carry-over engine and the new one a brand new 1.5L EcoBoost. We won’t get the diesel engines in Australia. At least one of the 1.5L engines, we’d speculate it’ll be the new EcoBoost engine, will be mated to a new eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. It entirely replaces the six-speed dual-clutch that wasn’t all that well-loved, especially in the US.
All of those powertrain improvements plus a lighter overall weight – 50kg in some models – help the fuel economy, as does a big effort on aerodynamics. But we’ll have to wait another few weeks for the final fuel and performance figures.
One of the things that’s always stood the Focus out from rivals is the fun of driving it. Ford claims that’ll be even better this time around. The suspension has been made more precise in steering inputs yet more compliant in ride, thanks to more complex mounting bushes. Also, for the first time, there’s the option of adaptive dampers, with three mode settings that also affect powertrain response, steering weight and so on.
Meanwhile the least powerful engines use a simpler torsion-beam rear suspension to save weight and cost. We challenged the engineers that it sounds like a backward step, but they swear that this setup is just as good as the four-link system used on the current Focus.
They also say the stiffer new body structure improves handling precision and ride refinement on all the new Focus models.
At the European announcement, we saw five-door plus estate models. The five-door is available in a raised-up semi-crossover Active version, and a luxury Vignale trim.
Sports Focus fans can rest easy – we have had it confirmed at the UK event that an ST version is in development and should be here in line with the rest of the Focus range, and it’s highly likely a RS will follow. Especially when you consider that Ford has made the RS brand a ‘thing’. Stay tuned.