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Ford Focus PDF Print E-mail

The Ford Focus has been around for a number of years, but has had a face-lift for 2006.  As one of the most successful, truly global cars to emanate from the Blue Oval, there is clearly no necessity to yet replace the Focus with an all-new model. Introduced at the annual Geneva motor show in 1998, the Focus was named European Car of the Year in 1999, the same year it made its debut in North America.  It became North American Car of the Year in 2000.

While the road car needs little in the way of change, Ford’s 2006 World Rally Championship contender is a significant step forward.  Developed in the north of England by team boss Malcolm Wilson and chief designer, Christian Loriaux, the new Focus WRC was given a shake-down on the final event last year in Australia.  Both Wilson and Loriaux came away baffled:  nothing broke!

Not only did the ’06 Focus finish, one of the cars came home in sixth place overall, in the hands of Czech diver Roman Kresta.  The second Focus, that of Tony Gardemeister, became the first 2006 WRC car to crash, when the Finn put it in the trees on one of the early stages of the rally.  Despite some damage the Focus continued, only to retire on the penultimate stage with a water pump belt failure.

Ford Focus
Ford Focus
What was all the more remarkable was that neither driver had conducted any of the initial mileage on the cars; that was left to Wilson himself and British rally driver Mark Higgins.

After the Australian event, Wilson said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend.  We came here to test and the most important target was to last the full distance with the car so we could learn as much as possible.  Toni’s car stopped before the end but the fact that we scored two fastest times is remarkable for a car which has been designed and built in such a short period of time.  A great effort from the whole team and we’ve shown the potential of the car for the future.”

Ford is one of only two manufacturers competing on the 2006 title chase, which begins in Monte Carlo next week.  Mitsubishi, Skoda, Citroën and Peugeot have all pulled out, leaving just Ford and Subaru to fight it out. With Ford’s early introduction of its WRC car, the company must start as championship favorites.

Meanwhile, at the 22nd International Motor Expo in Bangkok in November, Ford introduced its latest five-door Focus, to complement the already highly successful four-door model.

Ford Focus
Ford Focus
“Innovation will lead Ford into the 21st century,” said John Fink, Ford Thailand’s executive vice-president.  “This is just another Ford innovation reinforcing our commitment to Thailand, the region and our customers,” he added.

Priced at 959,000 baht, the five-door Focus Sport with a two liter motor produces a healthy 143 bhp (105 kW), while a 1.8 liter Trend model, delivering a more modest 123 bhp (90 kW), sells for a realistic 769,000 baht.  Both cars come with what Ford describes as “class-leading comfort and safety features”, while the Sport version runs on 16-inch alloy wheels and is equipped with side skirts.

The Focus will doubtless continue to be a runaway success worldwide and, indeed, Ford Executive Vice President Mark Fields said recently, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, that “… small is big in America.  Small cars are ripe for bold design and innovation.”  Expect to see much more of the Focus, whether on the streets of Thailand or on international forest tracks as it mops up the World Rally Championship this year.

-JH 

 

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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