Ford made quite a splash earlier in the week when it unveiled the next-generation Ford Focus at the Detroit Auto Show. One look at the swept-back, sporty design and well-appointed interior, and reviewers from all over the showroom floor immediately fell in love.
Truly, the new design of the new Focus exceeds the charm of the current iteration in spades. When asked to comment on the design philosophy of the 2012 Ford Focus, higher-ups simply stated that they wanted a car that was "Great to look at, great to sit in, great to drive."
As a result of this simple philosophy, the Ford Focus - which will be available as both a sedan and 5-door hatchback - has morphed into one of the more upscale and attractive models in the compact vehicle class. This is a sharp break from the general consensus among automakers that Americans typically buy compacts solely for economic reasons.
Of course, the success of more upscale and well-built compacts in Europe and other markets, along with a growing interest in fuel efficiency, suggests that Americans are ready to pay a little more for a downsized vehicle. Indeed, the enormous success of the MINI Cooper proves that, with enough incentive, Americans will gladly plop down a little extra cash in exchange for added style and flare.
The decidedly more European design is due in part to a "One Ford" design. This new corporate-wide philosophy is intended to leak into every Ford design in the coming years, and suggests that each Ford car should have a universal global design. Such is the case with the 2012 Focus, which will boast the same body design and basic features in Europe and America for the first time.
Despite the substantial styling changes to the new Ford Focus, interior dimensions will be virtually identical. However, a new fit and finish, as well as improved comfort, serve to give the Focus a completely different feel. Available amenities such as the MyFord Touch control system, rain-sensing wipers and an 8-inch GPS navigation screen only serve to boost the near-luxury appeal.
Under the hood, the next-gen Ford Focus comes equipped with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 155 horsepower. Direct injection and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission should serve to further deliver a sporty driving appeal. Just as exciting, is the addition of Dynamic Cornering Control - a feature currently reserved for all-wheel-drive systems on luxury models from BMW, Audi and Acura. Adding such a feature to the front-wheel-drive Focus should dramatically improve handling balance.
Despite the focus on a sport-enthused engine, Ford suggests that the Focus will deliver best-in-class fuel economy. If Ford delivers on this promise, then you can expect the Focus to sip about 40 mpg on the highway. To get there, Ford incorporated a number of aerodynamic features into the design of the Focus, including a stepped trunklid that is supposed to slough off air like water off a duck's back. Engine technologies such as variable valve timing are also included.
To further appeal to fuel-conscious drivers, Ford also promises a Ford Focus Electric. However, few details about this battery-powered Focus were discussed at the Detroit Auto Show.
Though base MSRP for the upcoming Ford Focus has yet to be determined, the entry fee will likely be in the low $20s. The 2012 Ford Focus is set to go on sale sometime in 2011.