Ford has announced plans to expand the Focus family, adding a high-riding rival to Subaru’s Impreza-based XV and a luxury model to challenge Audi’s A3.
The new Focus Active and luxury Focus Vingale models will feature in European showrooms alongside a new Focus hatch loaded with fresh tech.
The brand’s small car staple is set to be available with a head-up display system, inductive charging pad and active shock absorbers which will make it one of the most advanced models in its class.
Key safety tech includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, stop and go traffic jam assistance, speed sign recognition and lane centring systems which join advanced headlights capable of predicting curves in the road and illuminating the car’s path before drivers turn the steering wheel.
Like some of the world’s best luxury cars, the new Focus will be available with an evasive steering assistance feature capable of helping people steer around hazards.
Under the bonnet, European models will be available with three-cylinder 1.0-litre and 1.5-litre turbo petrol engines along with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Interestingly, the brand has shunned conventional gearlevers in favour of what it describes as a “stylish and ergonomic rotary shift dial”.
Larger than the outgoing model, the new Focus features an extended wheelbase allowing for increased legroom for front and rear occupants.
So far, Ford has confirmed Trend, Titanium and ST-Line variants of the regular hatch, in addition to the rugged Focus Active and luxurious Vingale.
Performance models will follow in the near future, with successors to the Focus ST and Focus RS likely to be welcomed by Australian dealers.
While critically acclaimed by journalists – and a past winner of the Best Small Car trophy in Drive’s annual Car of the Year awards – the Focus has struggled to gain traction in Australia.
Outsold by sub-par competitors such as the Holden Cruze, Nissan Pulsar and Mitsubishi Lancer in 2015, the Focus was the ninth best-selling small car in 2015 and 2016 before dropping to 10th place in 2017 and 2018 to date.
Part of that stems from Ford Australia’s decision not to compete with bargain basement sub-$20,000 models, choosing instead to offer the entry-level Focus with a turbocharged engine as standard.
The new Focus arrives in Australia in late 2018.
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