DUNTON, UK - A striking visual appearance, spacious interior and reduced running costs will be the key selling points of the Focus, Ford's Escort replacement.
Ford will start selling the three-and five-door models in Europe in October 1998 and in North America in summer 1999. The station wagon and sedan versions will follow in January 1999 in Europe. Prices have yet to be set, but are expected to be close to those of the current Escort models despite the Focus' superior specification. Airbags and anti-lock brakes will be standard across the range.
Four gasoline engines will be offered: 75hp, 1.4-liter; an all-new 1.6-liter developing 100hp; and revamped versions of the 115hp, 1.8-liter and 130hp, 2.0-liter Zetec units. The 90hp, 1.8-liter turbodiesel will use direct injection.
In contrast to the bold use of New Edge design elements in the three- and five-door models, the sedan and station wagon are more conservative in appearance, though they share the front-end look and the triangular headlight design.
Ford has also paid a great deal of attention to the Focus' ride and handling qualities. High-tensile steel is being used to improve structural rigidity, together with a sophisticated axle design.
Customer friendliness is high on Ford's priorities. Brake pads, clutch and exhaust parts are built to last longer, claims the company. Ford says that repair costs for the Focus will be 10 percent less than for the Escort and that overall running costs will be down by 15 percent. The Focus will also have a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.