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2012 Ford Focus C-MAX Preview

2012 Ford Focus C-MAX Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2011
2012 Ford Focus C-MAXCritical Knowledge:
  • Shares platform and powertrains with redesigned 2012 Ford Focus
  • Focus C-MAX offers 7-passenger seating and sliding side doors
  • EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Available blind-spot information system
  • Available power rear tailgate
  • Possible semi-automatic parallel parking system
  • On sale in North America for 2012
Introduction
When Ford President and CEO Alan Mullaly arrived in Dearborn several years ago to steer the ailing company toward greater fortunes, the conversation probably resembled a talk with a teen-aged son or daughter:

Mullaly: Why does Ford build different cars for different markets around the world?

FoMoCo: I don't know.

Mullaly: It costs a fortune to design, develop and market all these different vehicles. Do you know how much we could save if we stopped all this nonsense?

FoMoCo: I don't know.

Mullaly: Americans love European cars, and pay a premium for them. Why didn't we bring the redesigned Focus here in 2005? And why isn't the Fiesta in the lineup to battle the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris?

FoMoCo: I don't know.

Mullaly (slapping his forehead): Bring the European cars to Americans, now!

Mullaly's "One Ford" vision is becoming reality. The Transit Connect, designed to serve commercial needs on narrow European city streets, is already on sale in the U.S. Next up is the Ford Fiesta subcompact, followed by a redesigned 2012 Ford Focus, the full-size Transit commercial van, and a global replacement for the Fusion family sedan.

We're also getting the vehicle shown above. This is the 2012 Ford Focus C-MAX (Grand C-MAX in Europe), which has seven seats in a 3-row, 2/3/2 configuration. It's got sliding doors on each side, the seats fold to create a flat load floor, and it's about the size of a Mazda5. Ford wants you to call it a multi-activity vehicle, or MAV-not a minivan.

"The Focus C-MAX will be great to look at, great to sit in, and great to drive," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Ford Global Product Development. Let's hope so.

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2012 Ford Focus C-MAXDesign
The 2012 Ford Focus C-MAX employs the company's "kinetic" design language, which Ford describes as using dynamic, bold, athletic lines and forms. Even though it's what Ford calls a "people carrier," the company believes the C-MAX demonstrates that compact, 7-seat vehicles can be stylish and desirable while still delivering outstanding space and functionality.

Based on the next-generation Ford Focus platform, the C-MAX is smaller than a conventional minivan. In concept and general execution, it closely resembles the current Mazda 5, a nimble, fuel-efficient, 6-passenger mini-minivan. Like the Mazda, the Ford Focus C-MAX gets sliding doors on each side, which the company says provide extra convenience for people with kids and make it easier to access the cabin in close-quartered parking. (Readers with kids, you know what we're talking about.) To help mask the presence of sliding doors, and presumably to make it easier for people to call it a multi-activity vehicle instead of a minivan, the tracks are concealed somewhat by the design of the C-MAX's rear flanks.

Inside, Ford says the Focus C-MAX features a tall, command driving position facing a dashboard that drops down between the front seats to a high-mounted shifter and dramatically swept center console. Ford emphasizes that designers made sure to include numerous storage nooks and crannies in this vehicle.

The Focus C-MAX features a 2/3/2 seating arrangement. Front seat riders have bucket seats, the second row has a 40/20/40 split-bench seat design, and the third row is a 50/50 split bench for two occupants. Each seat in the second and third rows can fold to create a flat load floor, and the center seat in the second row can quickly and easily fold down under one of the outboard seats to create a walk-through space to the third row. Ford says all the folding mechanisms are designed to be operated using one hand.

There is an optional Comfort system planned for the Focus C-MAX. This feature will allow the two second-row outboard seats to slide diagonally back and in toward the center of the vehicle, with the third-row seat folded down, creating a very comfortable 2+2 seating arrangement with lots of rear-seat leg room and plenty of cargo space in back. To access that cargo space, Ford is planning to offer an available power liftgate.

2012 Ford Focus C-MAXHardware
Based on the next-generation, 2012 Ford Focus platform, the Focus C-MAX is expected to have one, or both, of the engines planned for European consumers. Across the Atlantic, buyers will be able to choose a 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter, turbocharged, direct-injected, 4-cylinder engine with variable valve timing.

Ford says these EcoBoost engines will deliver 20-percent better fuel economy and 20-percent fewer CO2 emissions than larger-displacement engines boasting similar power figures (horsepower and torque ratings had not been determined at the time this preview was written.) Furthermore, Ford claims that because EcoBoost builds upon existing engine technology, it doesn't compromise the driving character and performance of the vehicle in pursuit of greater fuel economy and lower emissions, in the way that a hybrid might. Additionally, Ford asserts that EcoBoost technology is more affordable than hybrid or diesel solutions to these issues.

Other details about the 2012 Focus C-MAX are not final. In Europe, the car will be offered with a standard manual transmission, and buyers will be offered the option of a PowerShift 6-speed dual-clutch transmission-essentially, an automatic. The C-MAX will be front-wheel drive, but no word yet on whether all-wheel drive might be optional. Suspension, steering and brake systems were not detailed by Ford, but we expect electronic steering; a 4-wheel-disc brake system with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; and a standard stability and traction control system equipped with Ford's rollover mitigation technology.

2012 Ford Focus C-MAXSafety and Technology
As safety becomes a priority with consumers, and as technology trickles down to the masses in smaller and lower-priced vehicles, it's likely that the 2012 Ford Focus C-MAX will have some of the same features that have already been green-lit for Europe. These include power-activated child locks for the rear sliding doors; rear seat belt warning lights that will inform the driver if one of the kids has decided to unbuckle a safety restraint; and a blind-spot information system. Europeans will also be able to choose a semi-automatic parallel parking system that can parallel park the C-MAX with little driver input.

We would also expect that dual front air bags, front side-impact air bags, and side curtain air bags for all three rows of seats will be standard equipment on every Focus C-MAX. There might even be a knee air bag for the driver. We also expect Ford Sync to be an option, which includes 911 Assist technology that can automatically dial an emergency operator and send rescue personnel to your location when an air bag has deployed. It's also likely that a rear camera, parking assist, and Ford's new cross-traffic alert technology will be offered on the higher trim levels of the Focus C-MAX, along with a navigation system featuring real-time traffic reports, weather updates, and other features.

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