Ford has just chosen a curious place to unveil the next iteration of one of its most popular cars around the world: Mobile World Congress. The place is usually a hive of smartphones and tablets and related industry stuff, and so not where you'd expect to see a major car launch. But then, Ford did choose to unveil the Focus Electric at CES a few years back, so there is precedent.
What's new? Well, the exterior to start, though the changes are subtle for this refresh. We've been shown the five-door hatchback, which if anything is a bit more refined than the outgoing Focus. Headlights are more pronounced and the grille up front now looks even more like that on the Edge and the new 2015 Mustang, too.
Under the hood, buyers will be able to specify Ford's 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine, available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission in the US. Ford hasn't announced the full engine lineup, but presumably the current 2.0-liter engine will live on, though it remains to be seen when the 2.0-liter EcoBoost found in the Focus ST will return. While it won't match the ST for handling, the suspension is also said to be improved, with a new stability control system offering "less intrusion."
Given this is a technology show, Ford is also talking up some advancements in the car. There's a new, 8-inch display for those with MyFord Touch that will also include SYNC 2 functionality and the updated AppLink for smartphone connectivity. The new system will allow for more diverse and more natural voice commands, including the ability to say "I'm hungry" and get restaurant recommendations, and a new navigation interface that includes Michelin Guide reviews.
Driver aids have also been improved, including an enhanced Blind Spot Information System (which Ford has curiously labeled BLIS) that will warn you when you're changing lanes, but can also prevent you from backing out from a parking spot into traffic. Similarly, Ford's automated parking system has been modified to help you pull out of tight parking spaces safely and will even park you in perpendicular parking spots, not just parallel ones.
Finally, the company's City Stop feature, which automatically detects an imminent crash and tries to avoid it, has been enhanced. It now works up to 50kmph and will attempt to steer around an obstacle if it can't stop in time.
No pricing information for the 2015 Ford Focus is available just yet, but it will be shipping sometime in the latter-half of 2014 globally.