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Redesigned Focus Revives Commitment To Small Car Market

The Ford Motor Company redesigns the new Focus with a tinge of boldness and elegance mated to higher level of driving experience to revive its commitment to the increasingly growing small car market. The new four-door Focus sedan is set to join the sporty two-door coupe version to attract not just loyal Ford aficionados but young drivers as well.

Small cars make up the largest auto segment in the United States today. Moreover, said segment is expected to grow in time. The 2008 Ford Focus is poised to take advantage of this growth to yield a large slice of the market when it hits the roads this fall. “We know the formula for success in the small car segment: Affordability, quality and a fun to drive, sporty personality,” said Cisco Codina, Ford group vice president for the North America Marketing arm’s Sales and Service. “These are the priorities that drove the redesign of the Focus for 2008.”

"We're expanding our commitment to small cars, as that is where many of our customers are headed. The new Focus is substantially upgraded, and it's the start of several new small cars coming from Ford in the next several years," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas.

Ford designers made the car more muscular by adding sharp character lines and defining high beltline. According to some critics in the industry, 2008 Focus strikes an impressive pose; thanks to the prominent chrome-bar grille design, crisp lines and flared wheel arches. “We raised the beltline to give Focus more modern proportions,” said Lon Zaback, the Ford Focus’ chief designer. “By raising the beltline we created a sleeker profile. The overall look is solid and more substantial.”

According to the automaker, when working with a small car, added surface detail should create interest from any angle. Ford added, “We definitely wanted to appeal to the more progressive customer.” In connection with the new design mantra, the automaker equips Focus with headlights that are a design story by themselves. The tail lamps, on one hand, share some modern design cues from all-new Escape.

The interior of the car boasts roominess, expediency, flexibility and sophistication. “We've taken cues from fashion and home design and translated them into a more upscale Focus interior,” said Zaback. “We've given it some sophistication and flair by adding touches of silver metallic finishing like you see in today's home appliances, and used materials that provide a higher-quality feel to surfaces and touch points throughout the car. The overall package is simply more inviting.”

When asked about the idea behind the new Focus, Philip Smoker, the 2008 Ford Focus product marketing manager said, “The idea was to let owners give the car its own mood. Customizable ambient light gives the interior a whole different look and keeps it fresh. Focus is the first in this segment to offer ambient lighting as a factory installed option.”

According to a recent survey, more than 90 per cent of vehicle consumers said they would be interested in unique lighting to enhance the appearance of their vehicle's interior. "With manufacturers often producing upwards of 150,000 copies of any particular model, vehicle differentiation is still the key," Smoker continued. “The interior ambient light inside the 2008 Focus gives owners the chance to make the car their own.”

The 2008 Ford Focus features a 2.0-liter, Duratec 20 dual-overhead-cam (DOHC), inline four-cylinder engine offering an estimated 136 hp. An all-new brake system, air intake system, cooling and exhaust system are designed to improve the powertrain’s efficiency and response. It is also given revised suspension for enhanced smooth ride. With regards safety, Ford offers the Personal Safety System, thorax side air bags and side air curtains for increased coverage and protection.

“Fuel economy was at the top of the improvement list for 2008, so we put the new Focus on a diet, dropping the curb weight of the vehicle by over 60 pounds,” said vehicle dynamics manager Mark Rushbrook. “To maintain good ride character, we reduced the spring rates. Improvements to steering and handling were accomplished by increasing the size of the front stabilizer bar for both the 15- and 16-inch tire packages, as well as detailed tuning of the shock absorbers to optimize the ride and handling balance.”
Aside from fuel economy, auto entertainment was also enhanced using Sync. “Sync is state of the art connectivity and entertainment,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development. “It’s aligned with our efforts to treat the interior of a car as a second home on wheels. We want to bring as much infotainment to our customers as possible in a way that is both convenient and seamless.”

About the Author: Joe Thompson is the owner of a successful auto body shop in Ferndale, California. This 38 year old is also a prolific writer, contributing automotive related articles to various publications.

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