The history of the Ford Focus

First unveiled back in 1998, the Ford Focus has been an unbelievable success for the blue oval and is still among the most highly regarded models on the road today. But what are the successes behind this humble compact model? Here, we look back at the history of the model and how it has continued to prove appealing in the automotive market for more than two decades.

How it all began

The Focus was originally designed as a replacement for the Ford Escort, and considering it has been such a popular model for over 30 years, this new Ford car certainly had big shoes to fill following its launch. It was initially launched in three versions: a 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan and 5-door wagon, as well as a 5-door hatchback being introduced in 2002.

The Motor Company ran into a spot of bother upon the launch of the Focus, after the German publishing company Hubert Burda Media moved to block the name because one of its publications was already called ‘Focus'. This dispute went up to the wire in a Cologne Court, eventually being resolved and so the Ford Focus was allowed to hit the market to critical acclaim; among the many awards the Focus mk1 won that year was the 1999 European Car of the Year. The first Focus is still considered a benchmark of affordable motoring today, recently being named as one of the 50 greatest cars of the last 50 years by CAR Magazine

Changing to keep consumer appeal

The mk1 remained a top-seller in the European, American and Asian markets (in the latter it was given the alternative name of the Ford Laser), with drivers bowled over by the fantastic handling, great performance and outstanding value for money. These were all attributes that Ford implemented into the second generation Focus, which came in 2005 along with a refreshed body shape and host of new technologies.

It is a model praised for its safety credentials, with five stars for adult protection, four out of five stars for child protection and two out of five stars for safety protection, plus full marks on the front impact test. These are best ever EuroNCAP ratings in its class - seeing off the Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf and other rival models.

While the aesthetic changes are clear to see, among the raft of technical improvements include a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, adaptive front lighting and a solar reflect windshield - all of which culminate to offer a pleasant experience for both driver and passenger alike.

The Focus today

The most recent model - the mk3 - was released worldwide in 2011 and its continuing endeavour to bring the height of power and technology to drivers make it a popular choice in a competitive market. A reason behind its renewed acceptance was the inclusion of the revolutionary Ford EcoBoost engine, a power source which combined superb power with almost unbelievable levels of engine efficiency; it's one of the reasons why the Focus remained the best-selling car in the world in 2012.

It also helped Ford make tracks into a previously unknown market, with the Ford Focus Electric paving the way towards a far greener future from the Ford Motor Company. The Focus Electric is powered by a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, offering an impressive range of 100 miles and a top speed of 84mph.

Raw power from the RS & ST

Part of the success of the Focus is its ability to appeal to a wide spectrum of drivers, from being a reliable family transporter to a model built for speed that harnesses the full racing experience. The latter was first offered in the form of the Ford Focus RS in 2002, a model which saw the first Rallye Sport badge since the modified Escort. Coming with a 2.0-litre Ford Duratec engine, the overall output was propelled to 212 bhp. Made in a limited run of just 4,501, Ford famously said that they lost almost £4,000 on each model as 70 per cent of the original Focus had to be replaced to conform with the RS' specifications. Their rarity makes them one of the most sought-after Focus models in the world.

Then came the Focus ST, with the Duratec ST 2.5L 5-cylinder engine encased under its bonnet producing 225 bhp and helping to govern a top speed of 148mph. The changes around the body show that it's a model built for speed, with the unmistakable rear spoiler designed to not only look fearsome, but also reduce drag and lift. It's these touches and the mind-boggling power that have made the ST an icon among fans of a speedy hatchback.

If you are looking to discover the secret of the Ford Focus for yourself, why not contact Foray Motor Group today? Operating Ford dealerships in Hampshire and other areas across Southern England, they are the perfect people to contact for any vehicles in the award-winning Ford fleet.

This content was written by Ben Edwards. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.

Image Credits: GabboT, HighTechDad (Flickr.com)