Ford brings its small game in a big way
Ford unveils production models of its Focus and Fiesta ST in Geneva, as well as its first ever all-electric model.
The Blue Oval is bringing its A-game here at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
Most notably, Ford is showing a pair of new production-ready performance hatchbacks with its Fiesta ST and Focus ST derivatives, as well as an all-electric version of the Focus midsize hatch. The Focus Electric is Ford's first all-electric production car. Promising zero tailpipe emissions and a range of 100 miles, the Focus electric is just that — promising.
There's also an all-new Kuga crossover SUV, known stateside as the Escape. It has a trick "kick" tailgate — simply swipe your foot under the bumper and the rear door opens.
Ford Fiesta ST
What is it? The Fiesta ST is the second hot, production-ready Ford being showcased here at Geneva — the other being its bigger brother, the Focus ST. We like the look of it. A lot. It's a scalding hot version of the U.K.'s best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta. Featuring a 1.6-liter turbocharged Ecoboost engine, the Fiesta ST promises to pack a greater punch than the slightly insipid previous version of the automaker's smallest hot hatch.
What's hot? The Fiesta ST gets a host of chassis revisions, turning what is already a nippy little supermini into a B-road banzai special. Tuned suspension geometry, a lowered ride height and 17-inch alloy wheels with accompanying low-profile tires mean the ST should have plenty of grip.
What's not? The Fiesta ST has been developed under the "One Ford" global product strategy. We're not convinced that this works and hope that the ride and handling hasn't been compromised too much to please other territories.
How much and when? The new Fiesta ST will go on sale in the first half of 2013, aiming to tempt U.S buyers into the hot-hatch market. Expect full pricing and specification info closer to the car's launch.
Anything else I should know? The car's 1.6-liter Ecoboost engine churns out 180 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, so the Fiesta should be sprightly enough: zero to 62 mph in less than seven seconds, according to Ford. Top speed is conformed at "more than 136 mph."
Ford Focus ST
What is it? This pumped-up hot hatch is what we've been waiting for. The production-ready version of the Ford Focus ST, here in both 5-door hatch and estate variants, looks like it means business. This is the latest in a long line of fast Fords, so we're hoping the new Focus ST builds on the company's history of exceptional accessible performance. If the chassis of the cooking 5-door Focus is any sort of benchmark, it should be a riot to drive.
What's hot? Gone is the old warbling 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-pot of the old car and in comes a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo unit. The new engine means a 50-horse increase in power, too — the new ST produces 250 horsepower — meaning the ST is wading into the VW Scirocco R's territory.
What's not? The aural pleasure derived from that characterful 5-cylinder motor has been replaced by a more conventional 4-pot sound. Anodyne? Those who mourn the loss of the old engine will say so, but progress is progress and an extra 50 horses is a welcome addition.
How much and when? The Focus ST is Ford's first global performance car under its "One Ford" world car strategy. That means the ST will be launched worldwide at the same point this year. However, Ford is yet to confirm pricing and specifications.
Anything else I should know? No performance stats for the new ST are available as yet, but expect zero to 62 mph in around six seconds. Even with a 10 percent increase in power and torque, the new ST is said to improve efficiency by 20 percent — now at 39 mpg combined city/highway.
Ford Kuga (aka Ford Escape)
What is it? Ford has unveiled its brand-new Kuga, badged as the Escape in America. Just like nearly all of the automaker's offerings here in Geneva, the Kuga is a "One Ford" affair, as the company looks to sell the same vehicle worldwide. The new model tightens up the existing car's design but, more importantly, improves things under the skin.
What's hot? The updated Kuga sports some clever technology, including Ford's Sync system and Torque Vectoring Control. Sync is an in-car connectivity package that can even sense when an airbag has been deployed and phone for help; Torque Vectoring Control shuffles power around the 4-wheel-drive system through a bend to improve stability.
What's not? We were hoping for a more radical redesign — something along the lines of the EcoSport baby-SUV concept, with its scowling headlights and purposeful front grille.
How much and when? No word on pricing yet, but because the new Kuga is bigger and more fuel-efficient and packed with more tech, expect it to be more expensive than the current car's $36,500 entry-level 4-wheel-drive model. The new car will go on sale in late 2012.
Anything else I should know? Engine choices will include Ford's 140-horsepower and 163-horsepower versions of its 2.0-liter turbodiesel, as well as 150-horsepower and 183-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged gas variants. No performance stats from Ford yet, however.
Ford Focus Electric
What is it? There's no doubting the Ford Focus' versatility. With 5-door and performance-oriented ST models here, and 3-door and estate body styles likely on the way, there's a car for all audiences. That group now includes the environmentally minded motorist, with the new Focus Electric. On the outside it's a plain-Jane Focus 5-door, but under the skin things get interesting. You won't find a conventional combustion engine; instead, an electric motor drives the Focus' front wheels.
What's hot? Combine all of the attributes the standard Focus offers — decent handling, strong practicality, low running costs and eye-catching styling — replace the standard combustion engine with a superefficient zero-emissions electric powertrain, and you have an appealing real-world "green" car.
What's not? The Focus Electric will employ Ford's advanced voice control, device integration and Sync connectivity interface system. However, we can't help but wonder whether using all this gear on the move — along with the car's electric power steering and other systems — will significantly shorten the car's range.
How much and when? Ford hasn't revealed any pricing information, but the Focus Electric is due to go on sale next year.
Anything else I should know? The "fuel-free" Focus has a range of up to 100 miles. Ford says a full recharge can be completed in three to four hours "when connected to an appropriate charging facility." That doesn't include your plug at home.
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When's the Escape with the 163 HP TDI going to be available at my local Ford dealer for a test drive?
What's that you say??????????
He is a tow truck driver.
We both got a good laugh over that.
I've ALWAYS bought American ! Y'all can have your Crap Japanese cars and trucks ! In fact, you can move to Japan and be surrounded by your beloved Toyos and Hondas to your heart's delight ! Bye Bye !
But I have to say, all of Fords cars are starting to look alike. These look like the new Fusion, only smaller.