Ford is finally expanding its Focus line-up with the introduction of a mid-sized people carrier (or compact MPV), the Ford Focus C-MAX, which makes its debut at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show. Surprises are few to anyone familiar with the Focus C-MAX Concept that was shown at the Paris Motor Show last September.

The model marks Ford out as one of the last entrants to a segment of the European market pioneered by Renault with its Magane-based scenic in 1996. Most volume makers in Europe now have a compact MPV in their line-up. It goes on sale across Europe later this year.

“The reaction to the Paris concept car convinced us that the C-MAX name summed up very neatly what this car is all about”, said Joerg Pfisterer, Ford of Europe’s Brand Manager for Medium Cars. ” First, it builds on all of the established strengths of the Ford Focus. Second, while ‘C’ indicates the market segment it competes in, it also points to its key attributes – Comfort, Confidence and Control. Third, ‘MAX’ is symbolic of what we aim to deliver in each case:

Maximum Comfort: well-shaped seats with good side support, ample legroom, and great ergonomics.

Maximum Confidence: dynamic and contemporary style, strong Ford identity, intelligent versatility, long list of interior features, Intelligent Protection System.

Maximum Control: predictable and stable, superior handling, steering and braking, good visibility”.

Some observers may, however, wryly comment that the Focus C-MAX doesn’t exactly max out on seating capacity. Industry insiders say that Ford nixed advanced plans for a compact MPV years ago when it learned that arch-rival GM had managed to fit seven seats in its Astra-based Zafira. Now, it has resorted to five seats anyway.