Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The new compact

This report is illustrated below with the photo of a (IMO) rather dull car: the Ford Focus II. Why is something with such a boring design referred as “the new compact”? Honestly, I find it difficult to explain. But fact is, the Focus II is the most important representative of the most recent trends in the compact segment. Because of several of its features but mainly because it is the best-selling compact in Europe since the beginning of this year (actually since the final months of 2005). And this is a major point. For many many years the VW Golf was the best selling compact in Europe. This helped establish the Golf as the reference model, the default choice in this segment, a benchmark. If not for its attributes, the single fact that it was the best selling compact made it the first choice for many people. And was enough to make this class of cars be referred by many as “the Golf segment”.

Not anymore. The Focus is now the best-selling compact in Europe. It is the new benchmark, the reference of the compact class. The new king. The new compact. And the commercial performance of the Focus is even more impressive because for once it has a very boring design (and we Europeans are supposed to not like boring designs) and also because Ford is an American brand. Well, in reality Ford Europe is completely different from Ford America or Ford down-under. But still, it’s an American brand. This means that the Focus can never make it to top spot of sales in Germany or France, the biggest European markets. In Germany the Golf will always be the leader, and in France it will always be a Renault or Peugeot in the top of sales charts. Thus the Focus must perform really well in the rest of the European markets. And it must have a very impressive set of features to overcome its design. It’s really hard to explain how such a dull design can do so well in Europe…

In the next days Auto-Future will look closely at the new compact. The most important trends and features in this class and why the Focus II is the new reference, the new leader, the new benchmark, the new compact.

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