Ford Australia was given the honour of hosting the Asian media launch of the facelifted Focus. Journalists from many Asian Pacific countries were flown to Adelaide to drive new Focus and sit in on multiple in-depth presentations. Ford’s head office is obviously keen to show off the strength of the Australian Ford operation. We were amongst the Aussie journalists included in the invitation.

Sadly, Ford will cease manufacturing cars in this country next year, instead becoming a full importer. So it’s important to show Australian car buyers the company will be very much alive and well in the years to come. Hence the focus on showcasing the latest Focus to overseas media.

Ford Australia engineers and designers continue to be a major part of the global Ford empire and our local guys and gals had input into the new Focus and are known to be working on many other future Ford models.

Though Ford referred to this latest Focus as, “the new Focus” during the design and engineering and styling presentations it’s actually a solid facelift of the model that first went on sale here in 2011.


Every visible component in front of the windscreen has been changed. The most noticeable change is probably the sharper squared-off shape of the front foglight housings, but also note the slimmer headlights and the slightly sleeker slope of the bonnet. Ford’s signature trapezoidal grille has also been modified with a sharper look.

The rear-end follows the lead of the front, with slimmer lights and modified lines that give the car a wider look when viewed rear on.

Inside, the basic shape remains but detailed changes to the instruments, controls and trim give it a slightly more elegant look and feel. Ford has been into high-tech automotive communication for many years now and Focus infotainment system in Focus is the latest Sync2 unit. This lets the driver operate the audio system, satellite navigation and a linked smartphone with voice commands. It also accesses the climate control air conditioning.

Aiming to give the Focus a more upmarket image Ford Australia has taken the interesting decision to drop the lower cost Ambiente model – the range now starting with the Focus Trend that was previously a mid-range contender. Focus continues to be sold as a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback.


Ford Australia has rationalised the Focus range, pulling the turbo-diesel off the import list and replacing the non-turbo 1.6-litre petrol powerplant with a new design 1.5-litre turbo-petrol, EcoBoost in Ford speak. This engine produces 132 kW of power, and 240 Nm of torque with a huge spread that’s runs all the way between 1600 and 5000 revs.

Also new is a conventional torque converter six-speed automatic transmission, this replaces the dual-clutch unit that has proven rather troublesome according to our contacts behind the scenes at Ford.

A six-speed manual gearbox is offered as a price leader, but only on the Focus Trend hatchback. Because Ford Australia is endeavouring to push the Focus upmarket sales of the manual may be slower than before – which is the way of the world these days as automatics get better and traffic gets worse.

Ford Focus is built in many factories globally, back in more favourable times it was even considered for manufacture in Australia. Our Focuses come from a factory in Thailand. Build quality was fine on the cars we reviewed, then road tested during a comprehensive drive program out of Adelaide.

Turbo lag is minimal thanks to the compact design of the cylinder head and exhaust manifold, some delay is inevitable but once the little Ford powerplant gets up to speed and into its torque band it has decent performance.

The new automatic transmission works nicely and quickly senses the driver’s needs. Which is just as well because manual overrides are by way of a silly little vertically mounted switch on the gear lever that’s not easy to use.

We didn’t get a chance to drive the Focus Sport during this introductory drive program, but enjoyed our time in the Titanium and Trend.

Handling, always a strong point of the European designed Fords, is excellent, with more than enough road grip for almost all drivers and unobtrusive electronic assistance should they make a mistake. There’s a lovely feel through the steering wheel and the car can be steered by way of the throttle if you’re into enthusiastic driving.

Considerable work has gone into further reducing sound and vibration in the cabin and this small-medium Ford has the sort of interior feel of quiet, smooth progress that would have required a Fairlane or LTD a couple of decades back.

We have long said the Ford Focus deserves at least a podium place in its class in the sales race, but has struggled for reasons we really can’t fathom. Will this latest model improve its standing? It certainly has the credentials to do so.

The complete 2015 Ford Focus range is:
Trend 1.5-litre five-door hatch: $23,390 (manual), $24,390 (automatic)
Sport 1.5-litre five-door hatch: $26,490 (manual), $27,490 (automatic)
Titanium 1.5-litre five-door hatch: $32,690 (automatic)
Trend 1.5-litre four-door sedan: $24,390 (automatic)
Titanium 1.5-litre four-door sedan: $32,690 (automatic)
Note: Prices do not include government or dealer charges. Contact your local Ford dealer for driveaway pricing.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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