In order to protect its status as the world’s best-selling car, Ford has gone to town with the mid-life facelift of its third-generation Focus, due to launch in Europe in the second half of 2014.
Behind the aggressive new corporate front, different wheel designs and sleeker taillights glitter an extensively updated interior and a pair of brand new 1.5-litre EcoBoost fours – a turbo-petrol in 110kW and 132kW tunes, and a turbo-diesel with either 70kW or 88kW.
Both the new engines are tied to six-speed manual gearboxes, but two-pedal versions are on the way. The 1.5 turbo-petrol four and Ford’s brilliant 1.0-litre turbo-petrol triple will each score six-speed torque-converter automatics in 2015, while the 1.5 turbo-diesel will get the same ‘PowerShift’ six-speed dual-clutch ’box as the existing 2.0-litre TDCi.
There’s a strong chance the 1.5-litre turbo-petrol will replace the torque-deprived 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four in our Thai-built Focus, though sadly the 1.0-litre turbo-triple isn’t expected to replace our entry-level 92kW 1.6.
What we will gain is a bunch of chassis improvements. The current Focus already rates well dynamically, but Ford has stiffened the front-end, revised geometry, retuned the dampers, bushes and steering assistance, and enhanced the ESC for “real improvements in ride, handling and steering”.
The biggest change, however, comes to the interior. An all-new centre stack with next-gen ‘SYNC2’ connectivity featuring an 8.0-inch, high-res colour touchscreen, a redesigned steering wheel (with optional paddle shifters), classier instrument graphics, higher-quality trim and a Golf-inspired sliding centre armrest all lift Focus’s cabin significantly. Other new tech includes perpendicular (as well as parallel) park-assist and active emergency braking that now works at speeds up to 50km/h.
We just hope our Thai-built version retains all that’s impressive in the German-built car. Unfortunately, we won’t find out until 2015.