Right Car, Wrong Time: Why the Ford Focus Was the Best Small Car in the Blue Oval but Arrived Too Late to Challenge the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 and Mazda3 – Car News

Ford has a long history with small cars dating back to the Cortina, Escort and Laser. But it appears that the current focus will be the end of the line, with sales plummeting and the Blue Oval is no longer seen as a major player in the small car market.

Which is a real shame, because the latest generation Focus is the best small car Ford has made in a very long time. It arrived in late 2018 and offered a wide range that should have attracted many different types of buyers. There was a wide spread of variants that included the Ambiente, Trend, ST-Line and Titanium as well as hatch and wagon options, as well as the high-ride active crossover.

This was a small car group that tried to reckon with anyone interested in a traditional passenger car rather than an SUV. At least, the latest Focus range was supposed to give buyers pause before they buy a Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30 or Mazda3. Instead, potential customers seem to have ignored the Ford pickup.

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In its first full year with the introduction of a new generation model in 2019, Ford sold just 3,682 Focus models, while Toyota led the small car market with more than 30,000 sales.

By June of 2020, Ford had dropped its Ambiante, Trend, and Titanium sedans, as well as wagons, with the exception of the Active. Not surprisingly, this negatively affected sales, and in the same year Ford sold only 1,878 Focus cars, which was slightly more than the Hyundai Elantra (1520) and Subaru WRX (1399).

In October 2021, the Active and the ST-Line were also dropped, leaving only the red-hot ST focus aperture to bear the hopes of the blue oval small car.

Arguably the decision to drop the Laser name in favor of the Focus played a role (as Nissan can attest, dropping a customer-familiar name isn’t good for small car sales), but even so, the focus has been around for nearly two decades in Australia, so it’s not Sorry the car failed to fire.

This latest Focus may not be a major market leader, but it’s hard not to believe it should have done better. In fact, if Ford had acted faster and introduced models like the Focus Active earlier, it might have helped the company expand its legacy of small cars.

The popularity of the Corolla Hybrid shows that Ford also missed the mark with the latest addition to the Focus lineup — in Europe at least. For the 2022 model, Ford introduced a mild hybrid powertrain that resets an economy rating of just 5.5 liters per 100 kilometers. While not as good as Toyota’s claim of 4.2l/100km for the Corolla, it would have given the Focus Group an option not available on the i30, 3, and Cerato.

Ultimately, the biggest problem for the Focus is that despite having a very good small car on merit, it arrived at a time when SUVs are dominating the motoring world.

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