The Ford Focus - 21 years on

A look back at the history of a British motoring mainstay

As of July 2019, the Ford Focus has been around for just over two decades. In that time, it’s become one of the UK’s most popular motors, as a family hatchback that balances style, space and economy.

It also has a market for the go-fast motorist, with the sports-tuned Focus ST and Focus RS. The new ST is set to hit our roads in the next month, while an even-madder take on the RS is expected sometime next year.

To mark the car’s anniversary, here’s a run through some of its milestones.

1990s

The Mk1 Focus launched in ’98, and the following year made a rally debut with Colin McRae’s Focus RS WRC.

The Mk1 Ford Focus - image from uk.motor1.com

Image from uk.motor1.com

It was also voted the European Car of the Year in 1999, beating the Vauxhall Astra – another solid family hatchback – to the title.

The foundations had been laid for what would become one of Britain’s most recognisable vehicles.

2000s

Ford’s first high-performance version of the Focus appeared in 2002. Fitted with a sportier bodykit, 18-inch alloys and 212bhp, the three-door Focus RS opened up the model to new audiences.

The first Ford Focus RS - image from evo.co.uk

Image from evo.co.uk

Although it pales in comparison with the current RS’ near-on 350bhp, the original model was one of the quicker hatchbacks available at the time.

The second-generation Focus was released two years later in 2004, with this edition entering the British Touring Car Championship in 2009. You should spot a recurring theme here.

Despite it being a family motor at heart, it was also proving a capable car on the track. It’s not hard to see why the sportier variants are so highly anticipated in 2019.

2010s

The third-gen model of 2011 was the first model to be designed under Ford’s then President Alan Mulally and his “One Ford” plan.

The All-New Ford Focus launched in 2018 - image from carmagazine.co.uk

Image from carmagazine.co.uk

Through this, the American carmaker aimed to create vehicles that are suitable for all markets, with only minor tweaks needed for each. Prior to this, the North American version of the Focus was a standalone model.

A year later, the Mk3 was a worldwide bestseller.

Last year saw the launch of the fourth-gen and current version. In the first six months of production it picked up 12 awards, including two Car of the Year titles and ten category wins.

2020 and beyond

Joining the new ST at the top of the Focus tree, next year’s RS is expected to break 400bhp – at least 50bhp more than the current model.

Autocar's render of how the 2020 Ford Focus RS could look - image from autocar.co.uk

Image from autocar.co.uk

It’ll use a petrol engine and mild-hybrid tech to reach that figure, along with more favourable emissions and fuel economy scores.

As one of the UK’s best-loved motors, the future of the Focus couldn’t be more certain. Whether it’s being used as a spacious, safe family car, or being ragged sideways around a circuit, the Ford Focus is about as solid as they come.

 

www.lookers.co.uk/ford/new-cars/all-new-ford-focus

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