Early signs are good.
Ford's second most-important car in the UK, behind only the recently-launched new Ford Fiesta, is the Focus. It's a familiar sight across Europe, with almost a quarter of a million sold last year alone, but the current third-generation has never quite had what it takes to topple the Volkswagen Golf. Ford will thus be hoping next year's all-new Focus marks a return to form for what was once the freshest family hatch of all.
This rendering gives us our first look at how the all-new model may appear. It's based on recent spy shots and, here, is focused on the four-door saloon model, a version that will be built in China and won't be coming to Europe. However, other than the notchback at the rear, our hatchback and estate versions will be all but identical. So this is a revealing early impression.
First impressions? The Focus certainly looks to be going upmarket. The slightly jarring lines of today's model are gone, and in their place come smooth, elegant surfaces that seem much more cohesive. Lower and wider than today's model, it seems the Focus will be getting a more premium appearance that should make it better able to take on the sector's perennial favourite, that ever-present VW Golf.
We already know that inside, the Focus is to benefit from the touchscreen-centric look of the new Fiesta, with its Sync 3 screen placed stage centre. Higher quality materials should surround it, and expect the driving position to feel more natural, rather than the slightly MPV-like feel you get from today's car. Rear space will be ample, particularly in this saloon version, which gets a longer wheelbase. Perfect for China.
The hatchback will be revealed ahead of the saloon, and we can expect to see it early in 2018, perhaps in time for the Geneva Motor Show. While the new styling will be svelte, there will be fewer initial surprises on the engine front, which will be dominated by updated versions of today's Ecoboost motors. Don't be surprised if an all-electric Focus and even a plug-in hybrid follow in quick succession, though. Volkswagen has a multi-format engine range, and Ford will be wanting to make sure that anything VW can do, it can do too...