The cars we loved.
Many of us associate Pininfarina with sleek Ferraris and other expensive European cars. While it’s true that the Italian firm has been responsible for some of the most beautiful automobiles with the prancing horse emblem on them, the company gets its hands dirty with cars that border on the everyday- abet with more flair than usual.
One of those cars was the Ford Focus. Not just any Focus, a special coupe-cabriolet model that was available only in Europe. The ideal of a modern convertible Focus started with a concept in Geneva in 2006, then went into production shortly after. Another concept at the same auto show two years later would introduce Europeans to a newly restyled Focus cabriolet with Ford’s New Edge styling.
In fact, the 2008 Focus Coupe- cabriolet as it was called, combined Ford’s current design thinking with that of its design partner Pininfarina. It was easy to see who influenced what as the front end was clearly Ford dominated, while the rear and to some extent the interior had Pinininfina’s trademark elegance.
The juxtaposition of styles was further complicated by the fact that the coupe retained the side panels, doors and mirrors of the previous Focus, yet appeared fresh and modern with its hybrid look. The coupe was easily Ford’s most elegant design in years, which might be why they commissioned Pinininfina to build it. Its handsome side profile was enhanced with the 17in wheels that came with the Sport and Titanium trim lines. In Titanium trim, the added bright work gave the Focus the unusual distinction of being a near luxury car – at least in appearance.
Under the hood it was more like the rest of the non ST Focus line. Variations of the 1.6 or 2.0 liter Duratec four cylinder engine were the only choices. The most powerful, the 2.0 produced a normally aspirated 143 hp. Another popular option, a turbo diesel has about 10 less horsepower, but comes with the instant torque typical of oil burners. 236 pound-feet of torque at 2000 rpm is sprightly, but the cabaret was not a performance car per se. Like the Mazda 3 from the era, the European Focus was based on the C1 platform, so it was no slouch in the curves. Its ride was compliant, yet well-tuned for spirited driving due to responsive steering.
Ford was beginning to offer advance technology in cars with relatively small price points, although the Focus cabriolet cost more than any of the other Focuses save for the ST and RS models. Bluetooth/USB and navigation systems were starting to form the basis of what would later become Ford’s stab at voice activated entertainment systems. Ford would experiment with various schemes in Europe as well as America before rolling out a more comprehensive system with the 2011 restyle. That restyle did not include a coupe in any form.
The 2008 to 2010 Focus cabaret remains one of the few small Ford coupes. One of the last, the Ka Street was also designed by Pininniferina. The elegant refined look of the Focus no doubt moved Ford a bit upscale in the minds of some Europeans. Unfortunately, in America, Ford had allowed the Focus to stray with an attractive but flawed coupe, sedan and wagon based on an earlier platform.
In a two Focus platform world, the US car lacked what made the C1 based Euro car so special. Given the choice many of us would have traded the stuck on chrome side vents of the US Focus for the Pinininfina styled cachet of the European coupe.
The coupe-cabriolet apparently did not fit in with Ford’s global car aspirations for the Focus. When it was redesigned for the 2011 model year in Europe, no cabriolet or coupe for that matter made the cut. A coupe- cabriolet seems more like a natural extension of the current Focus line up because it’s never looked more upscale. A small coupe would be a nice counterpart to the now globally available Mustang convertible.