Friday, June 27, 2008

Focus III: the global platform and more

One of the most important features of the next Focus iteration is that it will become a global platform developed taking into account both European and North-American markets. Other than the necessary provision for really big cupholders (a feature that can be easily differentiated between EU and NA versions), different engine ranges (the new Ford turbo gasoline engines will arrive in great timing) one should be worried that some of the great Focus features could be lost due to market constraints. For example, check the doors of any Euro Focus II: these are exquisite pieces with plenty of rubber lines for isolation and even plastic covers in the top framing for better sound isolation and allowing no visible sheetmetal. Americans are just not used to this level of detail, in this particular the Focus is actually class leading in Europe, better than what you can find in a Toyota Auris or VW Golf. Please Ford, keep those nice doors.

Attention to detail must also be found in the 3rd generation Focus interiors. In this particular Ford must be careful in order to avoid some minor mistakes in the Mondeo, notably the inadequate use of fake wood and the too large surfacing of metal-imitating plastic applications. These kind of features tend to look cheap so it will be better to use smaller and more uniform surfaces for metal-like or wood-like appliqu├ęs. Other than that the Mondeo is a good inspiration for interior design, as well as the Peugeot 308 or Audi A3. The key theme should be: all black with accents of chrome. And please loose the oval vents, circular or rectangular shaped will be much classier.

The development of a global platform for the Focus class brings some grey areas (will the NA market adopt the car?...; will it change too much for EU tastes?...). However, it can have huge economical advantages namely in the “buying power”, that is, the ability to get better pricing with component manufacturers due to much higher volume levels. Hopefully this could also allow the introduction of higher technological features such as AWD option. Availability of AWD option is a premium factor in some European markets but it could also allow a future RS version with more than 300hp and AWD as it should be… instead of the 280hp FWD(!!!) thing that Ford is about to show us in a few weeks.

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