The underrated Ford Focus has received little local attention, especially with the launch of many new competitors like the Golf 5, Mazda 3 and Opel Astra. An all-new Focus, however, will claim the world limelight at the beginning of next year.

By Christie Viljoen

The New Mazda 3 is being launched today, and the Volkswagen Golf 5 and new Opel Astra are on their way. Locally and internationally, little attention has however been given to the future Ford Focus - the lesser known of the four in the sub-compact market.

The current Focus has been a highly-successful seller in European market, eclipsing most of its rivals in many continental countries. This was, surprisingly, not the case in Southern Africa, with the Focus receiving relatively little exposure and supply to the market until recently. The updated range, comprising new engines, has improved the range immensely since 2003.

The new range (partially-disguised prototypes are pictured here) will be launched internationally next year giving Ford a little more time than its rivals to fine-tune its sub-compact offering. The range will be expanded, competing head on with its competitors on all fronts!

The second-generation Focus will be based on the C1 platform, which it shares with the Mazda 3, Volvo S40/V50 and Ford C-Max. It will be longer, wider and offer more interior space than the outgoing model and Ford aspires to achieve an overall five star Euro NCAP safety rating with the new Focus.

First previewed as a saloon at the recent Auto China Show in Beijing, the new range will rely heavily on styling cues from the current Mondeo. The range will ultimately include three- and five-door hatchbacks, a four-door saloon and station wagon. There will also be a drop-top, possibly a coupe-cabriolet in the style of the Peugeot 307 CC. The C-Max will be the range’s MPV derivative.

The engine lineup will include new 1,6- and 1,8-litre direct injection petrol units. Diesel engines will probably be sourced from the PSA-Ford alliance, and will be offered in 1,6- and 2,0-litre versions. Three transmissions - a six-speed manual, newly-developed automatic and a semi-automatic DSG gearbox will be offered on certain models.

The usual group of performance versions will also be available, with a rumoured four-wheel drive system on offer. The ST170 will be replaced by late-2005 with two different versions of the current performance model.

The first will be fitted with the Mondeo ST220's 166 kW V6 petrol unit .

Ford claims the future Focus ST220 will catapult from zero to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds. The second version will have a high-performance diesel engine under the bonnet.

Original article from Car