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Fighting Civic, Cruze and Corolla isn’t easy. What are Ford’s 2016 plans for the Focus?

What changes will make it different?

When a manufacturer has a car as popular as this compact, careful consideration must be given to changing it too radically. The 2015 model year isn’t all new by any means, but it does represent a substantial refreshing. This is still the third generation of the Focus, meaning that in this modern world something entirely new should be on the horizon, though we doubt it will arrive in model-year ’16. What we might get is the new RS performance version, although there’s no guarantee that it will turn up on this side of the Atlantic…again.

Why should I wait for the 2016?

Model-year ’15 is about as close to an all-new car as there is without it actually being one, so the next model likely won’t be different enough to warrant the wait.

Should I buy a 2015 model instead?

Most auto experts agree that this is one of the top cars you can buy, especially in its class. The addition of the award-winning 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine and the cosmetic updating of the exterior and interior mean this is about the best model in the car’s history. If you’re presently shopping for a car in this segment, you can stop here.

Will the styling be different?

The model-year ’15 version has the very latest designs in Ford’s current portfolio, so don’t expect much in the way of further refinements. Still, the manufacturer generally does enough tweaking to differentiate one model from another.

Any mechanical changes?

The model-year 2015 Focus is up to date as far as Ford’s oily bits are concerned, and most of what is rumored to be in the automaker’s development pipeline is aimed at larger vehicles like the Expedition. While some people may love the idea of dropping in the manufacturer’s 10-speed automatic transmission, it’s still under development and likely won’t reach this segment for some time.

Will fuel economy improve?

Economy improvements are always on the table, which is one of the reasons why the 1.0-iter EcoBoost found its way into the ’15 model. Although some fine-tuning can improve gas mileage even more, the engine lineup is good as it is. Therefore, don’t look for any big boosts in fuel economy until the entirely new model comes around.

Will it have new features?

This is Ford after all, so you can expect at least some new features. Then again, the manufacturer has crammed in so many features already, it’s hard to imagine what it can do for an encore.

How will 2016 prices be different?

Ford’s EcoBoost technology is extremely desirable, and it comes at a price. In other words, the 1.0-liter unit will probably cost a bit more than we would like. Although many manufacturers are reluctant to raise prices at the moment, Ford has a track-record of tacking on at least a few hundred dollars for a new model year. Nevertheless, the cost should remain largely the same.

When will it come out?

A good bet is around August of ’15.

Best competitors

Chevrolet Cruze, Dodge Dart, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3

What change would make it better?

All we can really ask for is the introduction to the American market of the stunning RS performance version. The ST model is a tantalizing glimpse into what the RS badge brings to the nameplate, and the images we’ve seen make us want it even more.

Quick hit

In the 2013 calendar year, the Focus was the best-selling car nameplate in the entire world. If that doesn’t tell you something about the quality here, we don’t know what will.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]