Monday, September 5, 2011

Ford Focus 2012

This is the all-new 2012 Ford Focus. From our perspective it's one of the greatest automotive comeback stories in a long time. After too many indifferent refreshes it's finally, and awesomely, everything enthusiasts have been begging Ford to build.

When the Focus first debuted, it was a breath of fresh air, resetting opinions of what small, American cars could be. It was light on its feet with a brilliant chassis, a zippy and frugal Zetec engine, a crisp manual transmission and enough personality and quality inside and out the cars sold by the boatload. Then things started to go downhill. Materials quality was reduced, cost cutting removed sound deadening and the car began to feel chintzy. The 2005 refresh turned an interesting car into an ugly one and then in 2008 Ford really stabbed enthusiasts in the heart. While the European Focus was winning nearly every award on the continent, they shoveled a hideous, cheap feeling, coarse, terrible driving vehicle wearing the Focus name. The car boasted fantastic new technology unprecedented in the segment, but it was a disappointment to say the least.

This 2012 Focus is not a disappointment. It's absolutely everything enthusiasts have been asking for. It's a global car with at least 80% content shared across the globe. It's once again daring in its styling, sleek and rather sexy, polarizing and above all interesting. They've managed to create a sedan as attractive if not more so than the hatchback, oh, and they're bringing back the proper hatchback. There are clever details throughout; The hatchback's fuel door is camouflaged behind a diamond-shaped panel under the passenger tail light. The Z-shaped "Zorro Clip" as the designers call it, is a not-so-subtle character line on the front door. It also points to how confident Ford is about their tolerances and hinges, if any part doesn't measure up, it'll show.

Inside it's much the same story. The new Focus has a packed with high technology and handsome shapes, grippy seats, excellent door coverings and with plenty of room all around. It's got the Sync system of course but also the new MyFord system and Sony audio, passive keyless entry, rain sensing wipers, a park assist system, and rear camera. The car rides on an all-new chassis made of high-strength steel and designed with Ford's Trinity crash structure. They're targeting award-winning ride and handling and doing it with electric power steering, dynamic cornering control and a torque vectoring differential. You'll be able to get a huge set of 235/40R19 tires, that's plenty of grip.

Under the hood there's a direct injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder with twin independent variable cam timing producing "better than 150 HP." It's paired with a manual six speed or the Powershift dual clutch automatic. Of course we're frothing at the mouth fat the prospect of these cars getting an Ecoboost four cylinder making an easy Focus RS or SVT. Ford, thank for finally, finally reuniting the Euro Focus with the US model, and doing it with some swagger. We look forward to tossing it into a corner and hopefully coming out on the other side grinning ear to ear.

Toyota Yaris 2011

Meet the next Toyota Yaris! These are the first official pictures of the next generation Toyota supermini which will arrive in the UK in September 2011. The pictures show the Japanese market car, which is called the Vitz, but the Yaris will look much the same when it arrives here.

Toyota claims that the newcomer was designed under the words agility and sophistication. As a result, the new supermini features a more angular design than its predecessor, with a more sculpted bumper and pointy headlights adding extra attitude. The Yaris has also been designed to be more efficient, and boasts a competitive coefficient drag value of 0.285.

The new car is 100mm longer than the current car, with the extra 50mm in its wheelbase designed to improve cabin space, particularly in the rear. It’s also a useful 30kg lighter than the outgoing model, thanks to a host of minor weight-saving tweaks like only having one windscreen wiper, and tips the scales at a nice, round 1,000kg.

On the inside, Toyota claims to have improved comfort and refinement thanks to improved seats and better noise insulation. The centrally-mounted speedo has also been ditched in favour of a more conventional dash layout.

The engine range includes two petrol motors: a 68bhp 1.0-litre and a 1.33-litre with 93bhp. The larger engine gets stop start, helping fuel economy climb to 74.9mpg . The Japanese models get a CVT gearbox and even the option of four-wheel drive. However, in the UK the Yaris will be fitted with a manual as standard, and just front-wheel drive will be available.

There is a larger, 1.5-litre engine available which could make it to the UK at a later date, joining the diesel and hybrid models which should arrive here in 2012.