Yesterday we were invited to the launch of the Ford Focus ‘Rabaa’ (friends or buddies in Khaleeji dialect) Rally. The rally is part of the overall 2012 Ford Focus launch campaign. Paul Anderson, Ford Middle East’s regional director of marketing, besides introducing us to Ford’s Rabaa Rally; started highlighting that a whole new model line up from Ford will be revealed later this year & the unique features of the new Ford Focus.
The rally is a 10 day, 4000 km drive going through all 6 GCC countries; starting from Al Reem International Circuit in Riyad and finishing at Burj Khalifa, Dubai. The teams are composed of three members riding in 6 Ford Focus vehicles, each representing 1 GCC country. The teams are composed of one team captain, who is a celebrity from each of those GCC countries, accompanied by a couple of team members. The event will hold a series of challenges that each team will need to achieve to earn points.
Each member of the winning team will get a brand new Ford Focus. The event will be covered via Ford Middle East’s social media; all the information for getting involved is being posted there. Registration will be open from March 7-29 for team members; who must be GCC nationals holding a valid driver’s license.
After the introductions which included the attendance of Radio 1’s Danny Neville along with the 6 celebrities from each GCC country; we were split into 2 groups.
Our group was first taken behind Autodrome’s Paddock to test the Focus on a mini autocross course; later on we were driven around the track and got a chance to test the Active Park Assist feature of the Focus.
The car did grip, respond well & felt quite balanced; you can confidently push it around. It was fun to take around the cone course. The 6 speed auto-manual was pretty smooth, it probably would have been more exciting with a manual we believe.
After getting a feel of the car, we rushed to Mr. Paul Anderson and had a small chat with him about the future of driver’s cars. We asked him about the electrical throttles, electro hydraulic power-steering & smart auto transmissions. He did understand our concern and rather told us that nowadays the obsession in fuel economy is pressuring such technologies into cars along with the high demand on automatic transmissions.
We pressed with the question of whether the manual transmission will ever become extinct and what will happen to drivers’ cars in the future, the reply was: that there will always a place and demand for the manual transmission as a matter of fact there are plans to bring the Ford Focus ST, to the middle east in the near future.
As a final thought we really liked the location of the Ford’s cap-less fuel door: