12 November 2004

Ford has confirmed that not only will the new Focus compete in the World Rally Championship for at least the next four years, but that there also will be a production version of the Focus-based Vignale concept, widely dubbed the Focus CC. The Blue Oval ripped the covers off this butch Focus rally concept based on the new hatchback last week, although the car won’t actually compete until 2006 as the current generation Focus will continue through 2005.

Ford says it has carried out a ‘comprehensive review’ of its motor sport involvement, the main casualty of which was Jaguar’s Formula One operation. Ford will also compete with the Fiesta in the Junior WRC, though, and the Focus will star in the new World Touring Car Championship.

But of more immediate interest is news that the stunning Focus Vignale concept, unveiled at the Paris Show in September, will spawn a production version in two years.

Ford says the car will be based on the Focus four-door, and lift engines from the top-end of the Focus range.

The company has roped in Pininfarina to both help with the design and build the Focus drop-top, which will follow rivals such as the Mégane Coupé Cabriolet, 307CC and the forthcoming convertible Astra by employing a folding metal roof. The Focus’ predecessor, the Escort, had a fabric-roofed cabrio version, but Ford didn’t chose to continue the trend with the first-generation Focus. This will be Ford’s first production folding metal roof.

The company will announce the name for its coupé-cabrio nearer to launch, and the car will be built at Pininfarina’s Turin plant that already takes care of production of the Streetka. The Italian coachbuilder is also working with Ford subsidiary Volvo on the next-generation C70, which will have a folding hard-top.

Paul Barker

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