There are always radical choices to be made when you’re charged with creating the second generation of a well-designed car. Do you stay with the original formula or do you opt for totally different styling? In the case of the Focus, Ford has decided to abandon the design trend it introduced in the Nineties and to do so in a way that makes the new family saloons on the Ford stand at the recent Paris Show look amazingly conservative.

Claudio Messale, Exterior Design Manager for Ford Europe’s Segment C models, explains why. “The design of the first Ford Focus was certainly ground-breaking, but we wanted the new model to be more universally pleasing. Essentially, we want to hold onto our substantial base of Ford loyalists, while at the same time winning over new customers who would never have considered a Ford among their options”.

So what does the new Focus have in common with the original? “Quite a lot, including the shapes of the glazing and the wheelarches, which we have made even more pronounced. And since you find all sorts of styling in Segment C, we wanted our new car to be recognisable as a Ford. A bit like the Golf: the first model was ground-breaking and all its successors retained that Golf look”.

Even so, Focus II is very different from Focus I and not just because it is less adventurously styled. The silhouette, for example, is distinctive thanks to the new version’s steeply raked rear window. “We already had the deeply sporty C-Max and now we needed to distinguish between the three and the five-door, while making the boot more capacious. So we retained the rear overhang from the C-Max, but opted for a rear window with a more dynamic, fastback shape which has created a coupé effect”.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 149

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