Grown up strong

by Andy Bryenton

Ford has some big names in their catalogue, which evoke memories of great vehicles past. Many of those names — like Mustang — continue to carry on into the present with acclaimed new iterations. The firm which gave us such automotive archetypes as the Mondeo, the Transit van, and the gone-but-never-forgotten Falcon is keen to establish new dynasties as well. That’s why the advent of the latest — 21st anniversary — Ford Focus is a coming of age.

When the original Focus was released, its revolutionary features were its ride and handling, and to an extent, the styling as well. Remember, this was still the 1990s, and the car the Focus was replacing was the Escort. Just how different was it? Well, the world took notice, and doubly so when Colin McRae piloted a specially tuned rally version to victory.

An RS model packing a two-litre engine set the stage for more performance Focus models to come.

Now the 2019 Focus is in showrooms, and it’s a chance to look back at how far not just this one medium sized car has come, but what it means for the auto trade in general.

As one of the most popular Fords, and with Ford a global brand, it’s a useful yardstick for comparison and what we see immediately is that technology has advanced immensely from the 1998 Focus to its 21st birthday generation. Under the hood, Ford has pushed EcoBoost engine design even further than with their multi-award-winning single litre unit. Now rounded out to 1.5 litres, this economical power plant delivers a crisp response, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The new

Focus is built in Germany, a nation famous for precision engineering, and many of the electronic features on this new Ford would once only have been available on luxury cars from other German brands. These include adaptive cruise control, a pedestrian and cyclist sensing emergency braking safety system, and even the ability to shut down a cylinder of the engine under low torque demand such as highway cruising, for even greater economy.

Of course, there’s a full suite of information and entertainment options, aircon and a big touchscreen. That’s a whole lot of innovation on the inside — and the best news is, the new Focus looks great on the outside too, with Ford’s now trademark aggressive diamond-cut grille, and swooping creases which accentuate some clever aerodynamics.

Twenty-one years old, and all grown up. Happy birthday, Ford Focus!