2012 Ford Focus Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2011
  • Offered in 5-door hatchback and 4-door sedan models
  • More powerful and more fuel efficient than previous Focus
  • Six-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • European driving dynamics
  • Available MyFord technology
  • Available Ford Sync technology with Bluetooth
  • Available navigation system
  • Available keyless locking and ignition
  • Available rearview camera system
  • Available semi-automatic parallel parking system
  • On sale in early 2011
  • Electric version on sale in 2012
  • Built in Wayne, Michigan


2012 Ford FocusFord seems to finally be serious about its global product strategy. Past attempts at selling the same model everywhere in the world have not proven spectacularly successful, with the exception of the first-generation Ford Focus that went on sale around the turn of the Y2K century. The American version of that car looked and drove pretty much like the European version, and it was available in four body styles: 3-door hatchback, 5-door hatchback, sedan, and station wagon. But when a redesigned second-gen Focus arrived across the Atlantic for 2005, we got a refreshed version of the same old car instead. In fact, today's Focus sedan and coupe are actually heavily massaged variants of that original Focus, even if they look nothing like it. And if you're one of the 10 people who've ever seen the Jay Leno Electric Car Challenge, you know what the Focus that Europeans have been enjoying since 2005 looks like.

At the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford unveiled its new, third-generation Focus to world. This new C-segment platform is expected to provide the basis for 10 different models and 2 million annual vehicle sales once each new car is rolled out, and in terms of the Focus, parts commonality will be no less than 80 percent between global markets, Ford says.

North American buyers will be able to select between a Focus 5-door hatchback and a Focus sedan when the car goes on sale early in 2011. Arriving at about the same time is the 2012 Ford Focus C-MAX, a mini-minivan that belatedly replaces the old Focus wagon. Americans should also see new Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner twins springing from this platform, and rumors circulate about a Mercury version of the Focus sedan. As for the new 2012 Focus, Ford's Europe-based development team emphasized design, high quality materials and construction, efficient powertrains, and fun-to-drive dynamics when developing the car.

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2012 Ford Focus


Check out the creases, the swells, the angles, and the folds of the new 2012 Ford Focus's skin. This is what Ford calls "kinetic" design. According to the automaker, kinetic design intends to "capture the feeling of energy in motion, so that cars look like they are moving even when they are standing still." Whether that's the impression you get when looking at the photos of the 2012 Ford Focus or not, know that this kinetic design language is likely to translate across the entire Ford lineup in coming years.

Under the sheetmetal, the new Focus boasts a 25-percent increase in torsional rigidity over the current model, thanks in part to the extensive use of ultra-high-strength and Boron steels in the car's construction, Ford says. In fact, because this car must meet widely different crashworthiness standards in all of the global markets in which it will compete, the new Focus has significantly more of these materials baked into its body shell than any other FoMoCo product, the automaker adds.

The stiff structure paves the way for improvements in construction quality, Ford says, adding that it is setting difficult standards for gap tolerances, panel fits, and color matching, inside and out. According to Ford, "each component in the vehicle that the customer will touch, see, hear or even smell has been subjected to rigorous analysis to ensure that it will exceed an owner's expectations."

To that end, the new Focus aims to make occupants feel like they're riding in a car several notches above the typical compact. Cabin elements include a soft-touch instrument panel, upgraded trim, high-tech display panels, and modern colors and graphics. Plus, Ford has worked to reduce cabin noise for a quieter driving experience.

Model Lineup

The 2012 Ford Focus goes on sale in early 2011 as a 5-door hatchback or 4-door sedan. Buyers looking for more passenger and cargo space can opt for the 2012 Ford Focus C-MAX, which is a mini-minivan along the lines of today's Mazda 5 and which can seat seven people. Trim level designations for the Focus had not been announced at the time this article was originally published, but based on Fiesta specifications, we surmise there will be base, SE, SES Sport and SEL variants available. Ford has also announced an electric version of the Focus, but timing for its arrival on the market is not yet set. Look for a variety of technologies uncommon to the compact car class to be offered on higher trim levels, along with features like premium audio, a power sunroof, automatic climate control, and leather upholstery.

2012 Ford Focus


In addition to contemporary design and quality craftsmanship, Ford wanted to make the Focus fun and fuel-efficient. Ford group vice president of Design and chief creative officer, J Mays, says: "Focus combines the best from Europe, North America and Asia to deliver a level of emotional driving enjoyment never before experienced in a car this size."

To that end, a new direct-injected, 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder engine with what Ford calls Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) will come standard on the North American version of the Focus. Ford says this new engine provides 20 more horsepower than today's standard engine, and claims that fuel economy is projected to improve by 10 percent. Doing the math, that's 160 horsepower and estimated EPA ratings of 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. A turbocharged, 1.6-liter engine has been developed for the Focus, too, and this EcoBoosted engine is likely to find its way into a possible performance variant of the new North American Focus.

The 2012 Focus will drive the front wheels through a 6-speed, dual-clutch Ford PowerShift transmission, which is essentially a manual gearbox that operates like an automatic, saving weight and improving fuel economy. Ford has not yet announced whether a traditional manual transmission will be standard, but we'd guess yes.

With its ride and handling tuned by European driving dynamics specialists, the Focus is equipped with electric power steering, 4-wheel independent suspension, and a Dynamic Cornering Control system. This latter technology employs "torque vectoring" to transfer power between the drive wheels to improve traction, sharpen turn-in response, and reduce understeer, making the Focus more fun to pitch into corners. Ford says minor regional tuning differences may exist between markets, but insists "all global customers will benefit from the same quality of dynamic performance in the new Focus."

Ford has also announced that it will offer a battery-powered electric version of the new Focus for 2012, making it the first fully-electric model the company has ever built. Details about the new electric Focus will be available at a later date.

2012 Ford Focus

Safety and Technology

In addition to employing more ultra-high-strength steel as a percentage of total construction than any Ford model in history, which is important when it comes to crashworthiness, the 2012 Focus is equipped with several technologies that are unusual in the compact class. For example, a rearview camera system will be available on the new Focus, depicting what's directly behind the car and helping the driver to avoid obstacles and people while backing up. Unannounced, but a likely candidate for inclusion, is Ford's Cross Traffic Alert feature, which uses sonar to detect vehicles and objects moving at perpendicular angles to the Focus, sounding an alert to let the driver know to exercise caution. Cross Traffic Alert is particularly helpful in parking lots when hemmed in on both sides by SUVs.

Ford has also announced an optional semi-automated parallel parking feature that helps the driver squeeze the Focus into tight spots using sonar technology and the electric power steering system. All the driver needs to do is manipulate the brake and the gear selector-the technology handles the hard part.

Inside, the 2012 Ford Focus benefits from Intelligent Access keyless locking and ignition, and a next-generation Sync entertainment and communications system with music player connections, media ports, voice recognition, and Bluetooth technologies. A satellite navigation system is also available.

However, Ford says the most important new technology on the 2012 Focus is its MyFord system. With MyFord, configurable LCD screens are located in the gauge cluster and on the dashboard. The screens can be programmed by the driver to display as much-or as little-information about the vehicle's diagnostic, entertainment, communication, climate and information systems as they like. MyFord does not replace basic visual and tactile displays and controls such as a speedometer, tachometer, volume, tuning, temperature and fan controls. Ford says those basic functions remain and operate like they always have. Rather, MyFord technology offers the option of controlling these features, and accessing information, via menus and screens manipulated by controls on the steering wheel designed to mimic the way popular cell phones and music players operate.

Though Ford hasn't provided in-depth specifications for the 2012 Focus just yet, the car is likely to be equipped with the latest versions of the automaker's dual front, side-impact, and side curtain air bags-as well as the company's AdvanceTrac traction and stability control system-as standard equipment. Other Ford models equipped with Sync feature 911 Assist, which can automatically contact emergency rescue personnel and send them to the vehicle's location after the air bags have deployed, even if the driver and passengers are unable to communicate with the 9-1-1 operator via the car's communication system.
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