2015 Ford Focus
The car that launched a product revolution at Ford is now old enough to warrant its own revolution of sorts. The 2015 Ford Focus, debuting ahead of the 2014 Geneva auto show, marks the compact car’s first significant update since the 2012 model kicked off the One Ford strategy. That plan made common the nameplates, architectures, powertrains, and styling of Ford vehicles sold around the world and this refreshed Focus closes the disconnect that opened when the Fusion mid-size sedan and the Fiesta subcompact adopted the brand’s latest design language. Look past the hexagonal grille to the unchanged body sides, though, and you’ll realize that this 2015 model is more of a refresh than a true revolution. While there is a new, optional engine and the interior receives an overhaul, the 2015 Focus is a moderate update, rather than an all-new car.
The base engine is unchanged for 2015. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder currently makes 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque and we don’t expect any significant changes in those figures. That’s fine by us, because the engine does a fine job straddling the thin line where reasonable performance and impressive fuel economy meet. We are disappointed, though, that Ford hasn’t addressed the Focus’s compromised transmissions. The five-speed manual is missing a gear and the six-speed dual-clutch automatic suffers from slow, slurred shifts. When asked if Ford had any near-term plans for a new gearbox, vice president of product development Raj Nair simply reminded us that Ford is currently developing a nine-speed automatic with GM.
In addition to revised front and rear fascias, the Focus sports a new hood, front fenders, and tailgate. The headlamps are more angular and the taillamps are squatter, yet the addition of chrome to the front end suggests a more grown-up Focus, not a sportier one. While it doesn’t take much imagination to envision the same changes applied to a four-door, Ford will pull the cover off the sedan and we’ll momentarily pretend to be surprised at the 2014 New York auto show in April.
The revisions inside are similarly restrained, yet they could be the biggest improvement over the outgoing car. While we haven’t actually spent any time in the car, the center stack looks far more functional and intuitive. Moray Callum, vice president of design, describes the new cabin as “less frenetic” thanks to audio and climate controls with a more conventional look and layout. There’s also a new steering wheel and a small cubby ahead of the shifter for cell phones with a USB port that we’re told will charge devices two times faster than the old one. A backup camera will come as standard equipment, relayed through either a 4.6-inch display or the eight-inch touch screen that comes with the MyFord Touch infotainment system. Lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring will be optional.
The more sensible interior addresses one of our key complaints about the current Focus, yet the carryover transmissions already felt inadequate when the third-generation Focus arrived four years ago.