Ford continues to improve its compact Focus model, all the while refusing to return the small car to our shores. The latest update sees a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine with a “mild-hybrid” starter-generator find its way under the model’s hood. It’s available with two levels of output: One unit that pumps out 123 horses and another that makes 153-hp.
Capable of producing 37 pound-feet of torque, the starter-generator is able to assist the gas engine and improve its efficiency, as well as add to outright performance. Power for the electric motor comes courtesy of a lithium-ion battery pack, which Ford hides under the driver’s seat of the Focus. A 48-volt electrical system enables the air-cooled battery pack to store and parse out electrical energy as needed.
While the low-end torque of the starter-generator certainly piques our interest, the setup is more than just a source of additional underhood grunt. Thanks to its ability to restart the engine in 350 milliseconds, the starter-generator improves the stop-start function of the Focus, as well. As such, the Focus EcoBoost Hybrid can shut down its internal combustion engine while the car is in gear and rolling to a stop at speeds of up to 16 mph—provided the clutch pedal to the six-speed manual transmission is depressed.
For better or worse, the Focus EcoBoost Hybrid is a stick-shift-only affair. That might inhibit its appeal to consumers in the United States even if Ford sold the latest Focus here, anyway. That said, we imagine the powertrain’s more powerful 153-hp setup could sway a few American consumers to take a chance on the Focus EcoBoost Hybrid. The lesser 123-horse unit, however, would likely struggle to find a footing in the U.S.
We are merely daydreaming, though, as there is no evidence Ford plans to reintroduce any variant of the Focus to the states in the near-term. Instead, we continue to lust from afar for the model, which in addition to its new mild-hybrid powertrain, welcomes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and Connected trim line to the mix.
As its name implies, the Focus Connected is, well, more connected. Credit standard kit such as a wireless charging pad, an in-dash navigation system, adaptive cruise control, and front and rear parking sensors.
Ford may believe American customers have lost their focus for small cars such as the Focus, but it at least continues to sell reasonably affordable compact crossovers to us Yanks. In fact, the Blue Oval’s stateside lineup includes the reasonably priced EcoSport, Escape, and upcoming Bronco Sport crossover SUVs.
Given the Escape—and likely the Bronco Sport—share its basic underpinnings with the Focus, it is possible the Ford crossover could receive the mild-hybrid powertrain of the brand’s compact sedan, hatchback, and wagon. Stranger things have happened, even if we would not bet on such an Escape variant making its way to the U.S.