Speaking at an exclusive event the night before the Geneva Motor Show, John Fleming – the head of Ford of Europe - announced two new Focus models. The big news for enthusiasts was that there will definitely be a hot version of the Mark Three Focus.
He refused to give many details, but the new car will be developed by a global performance team under the legendary Jost Capito, the man responsible for the current Focus RS. It will be powered by the new Ecoboost engine, probably in 2.0 litre form. Power output is expected to be at least 250 bhp, but it is not yet clear if the new Focus will be more like the current ST or the current RS.
Fleming also unveiled the next Focus estate. It looks like a slightly smaller, better looking version of the current Mondeo estate, which is no bad thing. Ford says that the estate will make up one-third of European Focus sales. In total, Ford expects to be making 2 million cars a year based on the Focus platform by 2012 in six body styles: five door hatch, estate, off-roader (i.e. the next Kuga), five seat MPV, seven seat MPV (i.e. next C-Max) and saloon. Only the launch date of the three door is still under wraps - it is expected to be more sporty than the current three door, but it is still unknown if it will be a true coupe in the style of the VW Scirocco.
The Focus will be sold worldwide (as indeed it will have to if it is going to meet its sales targets). Unlike medium sized Fords in the past, each market will get the same basic design, with 80% commonality worldwide. Currently, Ford has the bizarre situation that the Mark Two Focus is sold in Europe, but Americans still get a lightly modified version of the original 1998 Mark One model.
Obviously, no journalist has been allowed to drive the new car yet, but we spoke to one person who had managed to get a passenger ride in a prototype. The word is that the next Focus is another big step forward: the huge sales volume of the new design has allowed Ford to invest a lot of money in the chassis and engine of the new car.