New Ford Focus feeling the heat

Available in both hatchback and estate body styles, the Ford Focus will be unveiled to the world at the Paris Motor Show in September before it arrives in UK showrooms in 2011.

In recent weeks the Focus has been undergoing stringent testing including towing loads up steep inclines in the Swiss Alps and driving across frozen lakes.

Now the car has travelled to Southern Spain to test its reaction to heat exposure. With temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, Ford was able to test the car’s EATC (Electronic Automatic Temperature Control) system which is designed to cool or heat occupants depending on the outside temperature.

Ford systems engineer Klaus Schuermanns said: “We are doing a subjective and an objective evaluation of the EATC system so that we can finalise its calibration.

"We take the data from the EATC, compare with how we feel inside the car, as well as with objective data from the cabin, such as the breathing level temperature. We then make adjustments to fine tune the system.”

To test the car’s reaction to intense heat, two test models were left in the direct sunlight and then driven for 30km until the temperature was said to be ‘comfortable’ again.

Schuermanns has been driving up to 500km a day in the new Ford Focus and uses over 200 sensors to monitor a wide range of data during testing.

The best-selling car in its segment in the UK, and the second best-seller overall after the Ford Fiesta, the Ford Focus has been given a facelift for the 2011 model which includes exterior styling tweaks, a more premium interior and a range of more efficient engines including the petrol EcoBoost unit.

The Ford Focus is also expected to inspire a high-performance version similar to the RS model based on the current generation model.

Designed using Ford’s ‘kinetic’ design philosophy, the new Focus will be Ford’s first European production car to feature an electric drivetrain when it joins the Ford Transit Connect Electric in the UK in 2013.