Ford starts road-testing an Escape plug-in hybrid prototype

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Ford has started testing a prototype of an Escape Plug-in Hybrid, and may have the model ready for the public as soon as late 2018. The last time the Blue Oval went down this road, it was presenting a small batch of Ford Escape PHEVs for a California utility to try out about a decade ago. This version, however, would be for the general public, Inside EVs reports.

No details have been released about the price, range, or performance of the prospective Escape PHEV, but the SUV would likely replace the C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid in Ford’s lineup. Ford will likely start selling the new plug-in in time for the 2020 model year. Inside EVs says Ford may also be working on plug-in hybrid versions of the Explorer, Focus, and Transit for both North America and Europe, where the Escape is known as the Kuga.

Ford has already picked up some momentum with its green vehicles this year, so adding a plug-in SUV makes sense. Through May, Ford sold almost 41,000 hybrids and plug-ins, including 4,350 Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrids and 3,444 C-Max Energi PHEVs. In all, Ford’s green-car sales have surged 56 percent this year.

Back in 2007, Ford reached a deal with Southern California Edison to pilot-test a small batch of Escape Plug-in Hybrids as fleet vehicles. That trial version had a 30-mile all-electric range. That fleet was kept to less than two-dozen vehicles.

For those keeping track, Ford through May sold almost 130,000 Escapes, up 2.7 percent from a year earlier. In fact, the Escape is the Blue Oval’s second-best selling model, trailing only the world-beating F-Series pickup trucks.

[Source: Autoblog]

We take a ride in the 2016 Ford Focus RS

We’re excited for the Ford Focus RS, a car that in previous iterations Ford wouldn’t bring to the United States. That was either due to some crazy hierarchy that said the Mustang should be the only performance car on the market here, or fears that sales wouldn’t justify the cost of federalization.

That’s no longer the case. With the 2016 model year already in production and headed to showrooms this spring, the United States finally gets the high-performance Focus found in the rest of the world. And that global product plan is part of the credit for this car. By selling the same version in every market, the development cost is spread throughout multiple regions. The result: more Ford performance goodness for everyone.

Global performance is a formula proven by the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, two other hot variants of everyday Fords that we never would have seen before the Alan Mulally era. And like the Fiesta ST, the RS uses turbocharged power. That’s about the only similarity, since the RS is all-wheel drive. As we explain in the video, the AWD system is not just about sending power to all four wheels, but making the car handle better on track. And yes, it even drifts. Check out the video, and stay tuned for our First Drive.

Man hauls huge truck on top of Ford Focus

It may be small, but this video shot last week in Spain shows just how versatile a Ford Focus can be. The video was shot by a passing motorist in an industrial area in Segovia, just north of Madrid and was posted on the YouTube account ZamoraNews.

Shooting video while driving is technically distracted driving and it seems that motorists in this area have a lot to distract them on the roads already. The white van is precariously perched on top of the tiny sedan with nothing to secure it. As the driver filming the balancing act passed he shouted “You have to be from Zamora!” at the driver of the Ford Focus, according to the Telegraph. The driver with the van just smiled proudly as the filmmaker passed him.

The van eventually ended up in a scrap yard. But that’s not the end of the story. Both drivers, the one performing the incredibly dangerous balancing act and the amazed driver who filmed him, were identified by Spanish police. Both are expected in court to defend themselves against reckless driving charges. They face a fine of at least €500 or about $536.

2016 Ford Focus RS may yet be AWD, US sales likely

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When it comes to forbidden fruit, few vehicles are spoken of in as hushed a tone as the Ford Focus RS. The turbocharged, five-cylinder hot hatch could only be seen from afar by American customers as it tore up the roads of Europe. And while it’s safe to say that Ford’s Yankee fans are quite happy to now be on equal footing with drivers in the old country thanks to the Focus ST, we doubt there’d be much protestation over a successor to the RS arriving stateside.

Of course, we’ve seen images of the new RS undergoing testing, but a new story by Road and Track aims to fill in some very large blanks in our knowledge of that car, thanks to a pair of mysterious insiders at theFord. Chief among those is this – the RS will almost certainly make its way to the US, albeit in limited quantities. It gets better, though.

Under hood, the new RS is unsurprisingly expected to borrow the 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder from the 2015 Ford Mustang and 2015 Lincoln MKC. While that twin-scroll turbo produces 310 horsepower in the Mustang and 285 ponies in the MKC, R&T expects the RS to deliver quite a bit more firepower – 325 to 350 hp, with preference going to the higher output due to the limited-edition nature of the RS. This roughly fits with previous reports.

R&T has it from two sources that the RS will use an all-wheel-drive system, which we imagine will be a must with so much power. The system will be totally distinct from Ford’s other car-based AWD systems, and will feature torque-vectoring for even sharper handling. This system should, according to R&T, trickle down to other applications (AWD Focus ST?).

While this all seems like excellent news, as is always the case, we’d caution against counting your chickens, at least until the new model hatches. Skepticism aside, what do you think of this news? How much would you be willing to shell out for a 350-hp, AWD Focus? What other features would you like to see from Ford? Have your say in Comments.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford Focus ST diesel estate in track showdown with Focus ST hatch

Diesel hot hatches are still a concept that’s gaining ground. Obviously, there are none for sale in the US, but European buyers have the choice of at least the Volkswagen Golf GTD and Ford Focus ST Diesel. What better way to find out how the new, high-performance oil-burner really stacks up than for Ford to stage a race against the gasoline-fueled Focus ST?

On paper, the ST Diesel is at a big performance detriment here. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 182 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque compared to 247 hp and 266 lb-ft for the gas version in this race. However while not a factor for this race, the oil-burner does offer better fuel economy and produces less CO2, which makes a difference for European buyers.

Ford skews the race results by giving the ST Diesel Estate a two-second head start for this one-lap battle around the Castle Combe Circuit. Also, this is a video from the Blue Oval, which is going to further minimize the appearance of weakness for its vehicles. Still, both STs really get to show off their strengths, and it’s worth seeing how the sibling rivalry shakes out at the finish line.

2015 Ford Focus in Portland at Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro

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Portland Ford Focus owners know why the Focus has been the best-selling nameplate for three years in a row now. If you’re in the market for a car for sale in Oregon, you can find out too! The 2015 Ford Focus is for sale in Tigard at Dick’s Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro. For more information, please contact us at (800) 783-0863.

The Ford Focus, for sale in Oregon, adopts the new face of Ford for 2015 with a bold exterior and interior redesign and more advanced technologies that enhance driver comfort and convenience. The available, award-winning new 1.0-liter EcoBoost® engine is projected to raise the competitive bar for fuel efficiency, while the new model comes with a standard rear view camera and available driver-assist technologies including a lane-keeping system and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert.

“We have taken the title of world’s best-selling nameplate to impressive new heights with the redesigned Focus,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford executive vice president and president of The Americas. “Its combination of compelling, modern design and the high-tech interior will appeal to contemporary customers who desire a small car with very sophisticated features. What has always made Focus so attractive – being great to drive, having exceptional fuel economy and value, and offering leading-edge in-car technologies – is amplified with the new model.”

Award-winning 1.0-liter EcoBoost
The new Focus will offer the remarkably efficient and fun-to-drive 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine with a six-speed manual transmission. This EcoBoost powerplant is the first engine to be named International Engine of the Year three years running.

“The 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine is proof that excellent fuel economy and performance can come in one package,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “Focus is already known for bringing together efficiency and fun, and our latest addition will bring customers a whole new level of enjoyment – on the road and at the pump.”

The smallest engine in the company’s growing EcoBoost family will increase the choice for Ford customers in the United States, as Fiesta is already available with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost.

In Europe, where it is available on five nameplates, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost accounts for 32 percent of sales of the current-generation Focus and 26 percent of Fiesta sales this year. Robust demand for the 1.0-liter in Europe has prompted Ford to double production capacity at its state-of-the-art plant in Cologne, Germany, to more than 1,000 engines a day.

EcoBoost technology combines smaller-displacement engines with turbocharging, direct injection, variable valve timing and proprietary Ford software to bring customers outstanding performance and efficiency. Ford EcoBoost engines can deliver significantly better fuel economy than larger-displacement gasoline engines with comparable output.

Stylish new Focus
Focus will arrive with a bold new look. It features a restyled hood, grille and trunk lid, available LED signature lighting for headlamps and taillamps, and new rear lamp clusters. Sedan and hatchback versions will be available in the United States.

Inside, colors and materials have a clean, modern look, with satin chrome detailing, new seat trims and switches, and an available heated steering wheel. Storage is improved with a new center console incorporating adjustable cupholders and an easier-to-access glove box.

Advanced technologies
A package of sensors brings a new level of convenience for compact car customers by adding driver-assist technologies including a rear view camera, available BLIS with cross-traffic alert and a lane-keeping system.

Standard on Focus for the first time, the rear view camera will appear on either a 4.2-inch screen or the available 8-inch screen that comes with MyFord Touch®-equipped cars.

BLIS uses two multiple-beam radar modules packaged in the rear quarter panels, one on each side, to detect vehicles where the driver may not be able to see them. The radar identifies when a vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone and illuminates an indicator light on the corresponding sideview mirror, providing a warning that a vehicle is approaching. When backing out of a parking space, cross-traffic alert can detect coming vehicles that may not be visible from the driver’s seat.

Should a Focus driver start to drift out of the current lane above 40 mph without a turn signal on, the available lane-keeping system provides a warning through a series of steering wheel vibrations that mimic a rumble strip. If the unintended lane departure is not corrected by the driver, the aid function of the system actively applies steering torque to help the driver direct the car back toward the center of the current lane.

SYNC AppLink
2015 Focus drivers will have access to powerful capabilities thanks to a host of new functions developers can integrate as they modify their apps to communicate with enhanced SYNC® AppLink.

Android and iOS smartphone owners can download more than 60 AppLink-enabled apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

New functions include:

  • Connected apps can access a variety of real-time data such as vehicle speed, acceleration, odometer and location information that can be used to further customize and personalize the user experience. For example, access to the in-vehicle GPS signal can enable more precise and accurate location-based services than phone sensors
  • More consistent user experience thanks to voice pass-through capability. This enables developers to use on-device or cloud-based voice-recognition systems to evaluate driver commands, meaning drivers can use the same set of voice commands to control an app when connected to the vehicle as they would use when not connected
  • Notifications read aloud as a driver enters the car, with no need to touch the phone. Best of all, alerts are available any time a mobile device is connected to SYNC AppLink, even if the app is not currently active. This means a driver could get an alert about a traffic jam ahead while listening to the radio or using another app

The new Focus also will benefit from suspension and chassis upgrades. These include a new shock absorber valve design providing improved interior quietness, a new electronic stability control system with less intrusion and improved comfort, and a change to the rear suspension to give drivers a more connected feel to the road.

 

2015 Ford Focus First Drive

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Sitting down at the pre-drive briefing with Ford engineers ahead of sampling the refreshed 2015 Focus, water bottles clinked as we wet our whistles before Q&A. While pouring a glass, we noticed something stamped on the bottle label: “1L.” One liter. We were palming the exact displacement of the EcoBoost engine our group was about to drive. This was undoubtedly coincidence (such bottles litter every conference and dinner table in Europe) but it served to drive home just how small the total swept volume of Ford’s wunderkind powerplant really is. It’s tiny.

Of course, this isn’t our first run-in with the little triple – we’ve sampled its turbocharged charms before in Ford’s smaller Fiesta. At that time, we found it had plenty of poke for the subcompact, but the larger C-segment Focus carries around another 450 pounds or so and pushes a wider profile through the air. Would the three-cylinder have the stuffing to make the most of the Focus’ athletic chassis, or would it be a letdown? Would it be the same as it was when we tested it in a Euro-spec Focus a couple of years ago? There was nothing left for it but to head out on the bucolic roads surrounding Versailles the day after the Paris Motor Show and find out for ourselves.

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We can’t go much further without noting the Focus’ much-updated appearance. Gone is the 2014 model’s polarizing mouth-breather look, binned in favor of the trapezoidal son-of-Aston grille treatment and narrower headlamp look that’s spread throughout Ford’s passenger car lineup. It’s a comprehensive rethink that includes a wholly different front fascia, light fixtures, fenders, hood, and even a relocated and resized Blue Oval emblem. Out back, the old car’s v-shaped license plate pocket has been smoothed over and a pair of reshaped, somehow duller taillamps now bookend the hatchback. Overall, the new look is much more refined and svelte, but to our eyes it somehow lacks the brashness and distinctiveness of the previous car.

Regardless of what you make of the exterior changes, the interior rework is likely to be more welcome. The outgoing cabin featured a high-tech aesthetic, but it also felt cluttered and button-heavy. Not so with the new one, which features a sporty three-spoke wheel and a slimmer, nicely rationalized center stack an arm’s length away. The latter is a major improvement, with more traditional and user-friendly climate and infotainment controls and a handy phone bin with adjacent USB and 12V plugs. MyFord Touch remains the resident interface on navigation-equipped models like our Titanium-spec tester, and while the system is improving, it’s still far from our favorite. Material choice and observed fit-and-finish on these early-run cars was very good, as was seat comfort.

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Powering away into the French countryside, if nobody told you there was an Evian bottle’s worth of displacement split among three cylinders determining your progress, you’d never, ever suspect it. Thanks to its Continental turbo that helps deliver the engine’s full 148 pound-feet of torque from just 1,400 rpm, the 1.0-liter EcoBoost behaves like a much larger unit – in fact, its power delivery characteristics are almost diesel-like in the way it delivers strong low-end performance but doesn’t like to rev much. Yes, the engine’s 123 horsepower arrives in full at 6,000 rpm, but peak torque packs it in at 4,000 rpm. Despite an indicated redline of 7,000 revs, an electronic limiter rudely cut in 500 revs early. Thankfully, you won’t often find yourself needing to rev that high, and besides, Ford officials promise the gauge markings will be corrected before the car arrives in the US later this year.

Fortunately, any questions of powertrain refinement quickly go out the window once you step on the throttle. This 1.0L is pleasant piece of work, with no dead spots, untoward vibrations or high volume levels to accompany its efforts. Counterintuitively, the engine features an old-school iron block and aluminum head – Ford engineers note that iron’s superior stiffness and quicker warm-up times as the prime reasons for going with the less-costly metal, and besides, with such a small engine, mass is less of an issue to begin with. The long-stroke design incorporates twin variable cam timing and charge cooling to boost low-end oomph and overall drivability.

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Interestingly, the Romanian-built 1.0L does without balance shafts – instead, the flywheel and crankshaft have been intentionally unbalanced to counter the action of the outside cylinders. It’s an elegant solution that works well – the EcoBoost may actually be more refined than the current Focus’ 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an engine that offers more horsepower (160) but less torque (146 lb-ft) at higher revs. That I4 will continue as the baseline for the 2015 model year, with the EcoBoost being available at extra cost (pricing hasn’t been released, but if the Fiesta’s option sheet provides any guidance, it’ll be around $995).

Ford has yet to release fuel-economy estimates for this new 1.0L, but figures ought to be pretty similar to that of its smaller Fiesta cousin, which nets 31 miles per gallon city, 43 mpg highway and a combined rating of 36 mpg. Even allowing for some degradation, those metrics compare very favorably with today’s Focus 2.0L manual, which manages 26/36/30, though as we’ve noted in previous road tests, we’ve often found it very challenging to net EPA test results with EcoBoost powerplants, even in everyday driving.

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The six-speed manual gearbox we sampled – the only transmission so far confirmed as available with the EcoBoost at launch – was a pleasure to use, with a light, direct action and a clutch pedal to match. With all that torque down low, you won’t feel the need for constant shifting around town (though first gear is a bit short). However, midrange and upper gears are all quite tall – there was one moment on the autoroute where we neglected to put it in sixth for several miles, such is the overall refinement of this package. In any case, the car never felt out of breath.

As is the way these days, electric power steering has been fitted to the 2015 Focus to improve fuel economy and better enable the availability of convenience features like self-parking, as well as new safety technologies like lane-keep assist (the latter of which relies on our preferred feedback loop – haptic – delivering warning vibrations through the steering wheel instead of a chime that alerts the entire cabin to your waywardness). Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert is also available.

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What few small, cobblestoned towns we trundled through revealed not only the Focus’ good low-speed ride quality on its 17-inch rubber, but also the merits of its well-executed stop/start system, which will come as standard fit on our car. We often tend to shut these systems off out of annoyance, but this one is refined enough to be tolerable.

The majority of our drive route was on the relaxed side of challenging, with lots of pleasingly undulating farm and forest vistas but little in the way of sharp corners, let alone mountain attack stages. Thus, final word on handling will have to wait until one of our California contributors can give it a proper canyon shakedown, but we observed a mature, well-damped ride from the Focus’ recalibrated suspension and pleasingly weighted steering with good accuracy and decent feedback for an electric system.

In fact, “mature” is a good way to describe this updated third-generation Focus all the way around – it’s traded in a modicum of its spunk and much of its youthful indiscretion for some added refinement and sophistication, not to mention higher-quality interior furnishings. We suspect it’s a tradeoff that will suit most buyers very well. Besides, the ST performance model will still be around to help us let our hair down with an altogether different recipe for EcoBoost performance: two bottles-worth of displacement.

[Source: Autoblog]