Ford has redesigned its US-market FOCUS for the 2008 model year but is still using the original platform rather than the redesigned underpinnings introduced with the redesigned European model a couple of years ago.

The US range will now consist of a four-door sedan – completely different from the European version – and a new two-door coupe, which is designed to attract new and younger buyers in the growing small car market.

The three-and five-door hatchback and five-door wagon variants offered currently won’t carry over to the redesigned line when it is launched next autumn as Ford says the sedan and new coupe cover 80% of the market segment.

Small cars make up the largest vehicle segment in the US today, and growth is expected to continue, Ford said in a launch statement.

“We’re expanding our commitment to small cars, as that is where many of our customers are headed. The new Focus is substantially upgraded, and it’s the start of several new small cars coming from Ford in the next several years,” said Mark Fields, the automaker’s president of The Americas.

With fuel efficient two-litre engine and approximately 60 pounds less weight, the new Focus is expected to deliver real-world fuel economy similar to today’s model, despite added content and a stiffer body.

The interior has higher quality materials, silver metallic finishes and details such as an optional ‘ambient lighting’ package – also seen in the latest Mini – that places tiny LEDs inside the front and rear cupholders and in the footwells. The LEDs can highlight the cabin in any of seven different colours.

The 2008 Focus has a new acoustic windshield, thicker side glass in the front doors and additional sound deadening materials throughout the cabin. A “top-of-dash” display – positioned at eye-level on the centre console – has a message centre that is easier to read when driving. A standard auxiliary audio input jack and two power points are also included.

So-called ‘Ford SYNC’ will also be available. Developed in association with Microsoft, Sync is a new factory installed, voice-activated in-car communications and entertainment system for mobile phones and digital music players.

Sync connects to cellular phones and downloads personal features, such as phone books and ring tones. Using voice recognition software, drivers can place and receive calls and receive text messages using the vehicle’s audio system.

Sync also offers hands-free, voice-activated control for most digital media players and most USB storage devices. MP3 files saved on flash memory sticks can be played by inserting the stick into the system’s USB port.