All things to most men, and women

With no specific customer profile given the wide range of the market for Focus-sized cars, Ford aimed to provide ‘maximum interior space’. From the driving position to the rear tailgate, the car has been designed to accommodate a wider range of passengers than normal: all but the shortest 5% of women and tallest 1% of […]

With no specific customer profile given the wide range of the market for Focus-sized cars, Ford aimed to provide ‘maximum interior space’.

From the driving position to the rear tailgate, the car has been designed to accommodate a wider range of passengers than normal: all but the shortest 5% of women and tallest 1% of men. The tallest person in this range will not bang his head on the open tailgate while the shortest will still be able to reach it to close it.

Extensive use has been made of Ramsis human modelling software to model stress in the joints of passengers getting in and out of the car.

Ford claims the longest wheelbase in the class plus the best amount of space in the class for driver, rear passengers and luggage.

A higher-than-average seating position and roofline makes entry and exit easier, improves comfort, headroom and legroom and provides a more commanding driving position.

Interior design manager Brian Osman says: ‘Traditionally, designers want to get the car looking low. We decided we could make a good looking car higher so as not to compromise space.’

But the higher roofline had knock-on effects for the stylists and aerodynamicists. Aerodynamically, the Focus’s Cd of 0.32 is only slightly better than average. ‘The aerodynamics of the Focus are difficult,’ says Christoph Hofmann, aerodynamics supervisor. ‘It’s short, tall and with a cross section bigger than the Scorpio.’

Styling-wise, Ford’s approach contrasts with Vauxhall, whose new Astra adopted a conservative design intended to reflect a more sophisticated image, and VW’s ‘no change’ policy for the Golf. The Focus designers’ brief was ‘to reflect the driving dynamics of the car, and bring edge design into the mainstream’.

Focus chief designer John Doughty says: ‘Initially we looked at following the Escort look, with a bustle back. That didn’t work it looked visually small. The silhouette is very high for its class: early designs looked narrow and tall.’

Eventually the team evolved the current design, in which the line of the windows and a waist feature line appear to stretch the profile.

Of the edge concept, Doughty says: ‘The Ka was a breakthrough. We got out of the mould of market research and asking people what they want. But this was different a high volume product. We were confident we could repeat the success of the Ka in that market.’