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Ford Focus: Raising the Standard for Small Cars

4 January 1999

Ford Focus: Raising the Standard for Small Cars
    DETROIT, Jan. 4 -- The all-new Ford Focus is set to redefine
customer expectations of small cars, as it makes its debut at the North
American International Auto Show.
    The new Focus is designed to raise the standard of what a small car should
be with new levels of roominess, comfort, driving dynamics and safety.
Combined with a bold new exterior design and an all-new chassis, the Focus is
designed to give customers much more car while still providing affordability
and value.
    "Ford Focus is a fresh example of a car designed around people -- with a
spacious interior that reflects the increasing average height of the
population," says Richard Parry-Jones, Ford's group vice president of
worldwide Product Development.  "By the year 2000, we expect men will be
nearly a half-inch taller and women a quarter-inch taller than they were in
    "Focus responds to these trends by providing extra roominess and comfort
that our customers require -- together with a level of driving dynamics and
safety technology unprecedented in this price class."
    On sale this fall, Focus is available in three body styles -- a sporty
three-door, four-door sedan and versatile wagon -- and a choice of five series
matched to varying lifestyles.
    "Focus will appeal to a wider array of customers than ever before" says
Jim O'Connor, Ford vice president and Ford Division president.  "Buying a
small car doesn't have to mean making compromises -- in comfort, roominess,
appearance, driving character, safety or value.  Focus combines these elements
so there are no compromises."

    Leading the Way
    Focus is based on an all-new platform.  Thanks to a streamlined
development process and a customer-centered way of operating, the platform has
provided attributes that make Focus stand out from the competition.  Among

    -- The most spacious interior in the class -- with room to seat five
       adults comfortably
    -- More legroom in both the front and rear than the competition
    -- Stiffest body structure in the class -- and one of the lightest -- for
       class-leading driving dynamics
    -- Independent multi-link rear suspension -- for improved ride, handling,
       stability and NVH
    -- Low-friction steering and suspension -- for improved steering feel and
    -- Driver and passenger airbags as well as available head-and-chest side
       air bags
    -- ISOFIX child-safety seat attachments in the rear -- one of the first
       small cars to offer them
    -- Advanced safety belt system, including pre-tensioners and load-limiting
    -- Battery saver that automatically switches off lights left on after
       10 minutes
    -- Extensive comfort and convenience features -- usually found only in
       more expensive cars -- including theater dimming and flip-up rear seat
       cushions that "flat fold" for easy storage

    "Smart Design"
    One of the key objectives set for the new Focus was a best-in-class
package with intelligent use of space, as well as ergonomics.
    The car's design started on the inside -- around a new generation of
customers, who are taller than ever before -- to provide more cabin space,
interior comfort and roominess.
    Focus' high roofline, raised seating positions, tall, wide doors, and long
wheelbase work together to provide more interior passenger room than any
competitor.  They also provide more leg room and aid ingress and egress.
    Ergonomically, the Focus' interior features are logically placed and
provide easy-to-use controls.  For example, audio dials are large in size for
ease of grabbing, while placed higher on the dashboard than the heater control
because they are used more frequently.  Similarly, all rotary knobs are
rubberized, while push/pull buttons use silicon pads to help drivers easily
and tactilely distinguish between controls while driving.
    On the outside, Focus' appearance is designed to be progressive,
adventurous and distinctively different from the softer, more traditional
proportions and silhouettes of other small cars.
    Focus' bold, innovative use of Ford's "New Edge" design -- with its
combination of rounded shapes, crisp edges, sharp intersections and taut lines
-- brings a new look to the class.  The athletic stance underscores the
dynamics and technology under the skin.
    "We wanted to create an all-new appearance, a progressive design that
unmistakably signals what's under the skin," says John Doughty, Focus' chief
designer.  "Design never stands still.  The design had to communicate the
car's dynamic attributes and lead the small car market into the new
    Focus' design also was driven by maximum functionality.  The car's low
hood line and shape couples superior aerodynamics with maximum crash
    Focus is available in three body styles -- sedan, wagon and 3-door -- and
five series: "Focus" and ZX3 (3-door); LX (sedan) and SE (sedan and wagon);
and a high-series ZTS sedan.  Each has separate, distinct personalities
designed to appeal to different niches in the broad small car market.
    The sporty three-door is bold and unique with curving arcs created by the
roofline and high-mounted taillamps that were designed for safety and reduced
repair costs.
    The four-door sedan combines a progressive front-end, deep luggage
compartment in the rear and comprehensive safety systems.  As the high series,
the ZTS sedan represents the image leader for the Focus line-up with the most
standard features, such as the 16-valve Zetec engine and antilock brakes
(ABS), for the most demanding customers.
    The Focus wagon demonstrates optional versatility defined by extended rear
side-windows and full-width tailgate, which, at 37.5 cubic feet, provides the
largest load area in the class.

    A Major Step Forward in Driving Dynamics
    The mission for the dynamics team was clear from the start: Make Focus
ride and handle better than any car in its class had done before, including
being more stable, easier to drive, more reassuring, rewarding and fun for all
    To achieve the objectives, Focus is based on an all-new platform and
features the stiffest and -- one of the lightest -- body shells in the class.
The highly rigid, yet lightweight platform, architecture provides the best
possible base and mounting points for Focus' next-generation low-friction
steering and front suspension and fully independent rear suspension.  With
zero offset front suspension geometry and fully compensated dampers, Focus'
chassis provides superior ride and handling quality equal to and even better
than larger and more expensive cars.
    The fully independent, multi-link rear suspension provides greater
longitudinal compliance for superior ride quality.  Lateral stiffness and
better wheel control greatly improve stability and active safety --
particularly in extreme cornering or heavy braking situations.  The system
also delivers substantially reduced NVH and package benefits.
    Intrinsic stability is boosted by an advanced braking system that provides
new levels of driver reassurance.  New friction materials and larger brake-pad
area reduce stopping distances, while helping to maintain a progressive and
uniform reaction to pedal effort.  The latest four-channel anti-lock braking
system (ABS) is available as an option.  Power rack-and-pinion steering is

    Focus is powered by a choice of two 2.0-liter engines and a choice of
manual or an all-new electronically controlled automatic transmission.
    The lightweight, high-efficiency 2.0-liter 16-valve DOHC Zetec I-4 engine
delivers 130 horsepower at 5,500 rpm.  Peak torque is 127 pound-feet at
4,250 rpm.  The Zetec engine uses a cast-iron cylinder block and two
belt-driven overhead camshafts running directly into the aluminum head.  A
ladder frame is sandwiched between the crankcase and oil pan, helping to
reduce powertrain noise and vibration, as much as 30 percent compared with
earlier versions.
    The 2.0-liter SOHC I-4 split-port induction (SPI) engine delivers 107 hp
at 5,000 rpm.  Peak torque is 122 lb.-ft. at 3,750 rpm.  The SPI engine has
been significantly upgraded to improve NVH and reduce weight.  The engine
utilizes a siamesed bore cast-iron cylinder block to increase displacement and
improve NVH, with a split-port cast aluminum cylinder head.  Weight savings of
5 percent have been achieved through the use of die-cast aluminum pistons,
powder metallurgy forged connecting rods, weight-reduced valve train
components and cast aluminum Front End Accessory Drive (FEAD) bracket and
structural oil pan.
    The SPI engine is available with the latest Ford improved IB5 five-speed
manual transmission.  It features external stiffening ribs on the transmission
and clutch housing to resist powertrain bending forces more effectively and
reduce NVH in the engine/transmission assembly.  The final drive gears and
bearings also are strengthened for greater durability.
    The Zetec engine is available with Ford's MTX75 manual transaxle.  The
adoption of a low-inertia hydraulic clutch and a cable-operating gearshift
eliminate two direct acoustic paths from the powertrain to the passenger
compartment, providing significant reductions in NVH.  Both controls also
offer superior precision for greater accuracy and ease of operating, together
with greater durability and weight savings.  Low-friction, needle-roller
bearings and low viscosity mineral oil aid fuel economy.
    Both engines are available with an all-new, light, compact four-speed
automatic transmission, which features overdrive and a lock-up torque
converter.  The transmission's electronic synchronous shift control module
works in conjunction with the electronic engine controls, using information
from 18 different engine and transmission sources to calculate the best
possible shifting strategy for multiple operating conditions.  Fuel economy
and performance are improved, while shift quality and speed of response sets
new standards for small cars.  The transmission is exceptionally quiet in
operation, is sealed for life and requires no scheduled maintenance.

    Next-Generation Safety and Security
    With the stiffest body shell -- and one of the lightest -- in the class,
Focus provides structural integrity that significantly aids passenger safety.
The car's development team took a "whole car" approach to safety to develop a
vehicle with intrinsic stability -- that helps avoid an accident in the first
place -- and an ultra-stiff passenger safety cell with crumple zones as well
as advanced restraints to provide optimum occupant protection in case of a
    Before any prototypes were built, Ford harnessed its industry-leading
computing power to evaluate crash scenarios and develop the optimum bodyshell
construction for occupant protection.
    More than 100 computer simulations were performed to provide accurate
predictions of how the car would perform in a real-world crash.  This gave
engineers the ability to design, test, redesign, refine and re-test the car's
body structure and restraint systems in scores of different crash modes, even
before the first prototype car was assembled.
    The ultra-stiff body structure is engineered to achieve maximum
crash-energy absorption through controlled collapse, minimizing impact forces
to the passenger compartment.  Front and rear bumpers are designed to resist
low-speed impacts of up to five miles per hour with minimal or no damage.

    Inside the car, fully integrated advanced restraint systems further
improve occupant protection.  The systems include:

    -- Optional front seat head-and-chest side-impact air bags, which reduce
       the potential for severe head and chest injuries in a side impact
    -- Safety belt pretensioners and load-limiting retractors, which are
       calibrated to work in harmony with the car's air bags to better hold
       passenger in place during a collision.
    -- For rear passengers, a three-point center safety belt and ISOFIX child
       safety seat mounting -- one of the first small cars to offer such child
       protection in the industry.
    -- Advanced anti-lock brakes (ABS) are available.

    For security, Focus is equipped with Ford's SecuriLock(TM) electronic
engine immobilizer system.  The passive anti-theft system makes it virtually
impossible to start a car or truck without the properly coded key.  Each
SecuriLock key can be programmed with any one of more than 72 quadrillion
codes.  Without the key, the engine cannot be started.

    Environmental Stewardship
    Environmental compatibility and recycling were designed into Focus from
the beginning.
    All Focus models will meet low-emission vehicle (LEV) requirements, which
exceed U.S. Federal emission requirements.  Beyond offering excellent fuel
economy and low emissions levels, the car's lubrication oils, coolants and
other fluids were chosen with the environment in mind.  Besides CFC-free
refrigerants, all friction materials and insulation are asbestos-free.
    Recycled consumer goods -- such as old plastics, carpets and even denim
jeans -- are used to make Focus components, including battery housings,
heating components, sound-deadening materials, air filter housings and fuse