These are the first public pictures of the new 2005 Ford Focus, set to be officially unveiled at the Paris Motor Show next month.

The new Focus shares its platform with the Focus C-Max, the Mazda3 and the Volvo S40 and V50.

Available in three- and five-door hatchback form initially, with the estate following a few months later, the new Focus is said to offer improved cabin and luggage space, thanks to an increase in the overall length of nearly 170mm, 25mm of which is in the wheelbase.

Luggage space for the hatchback models rises by 35 litres to 385 with the seats in place, and 1,245 litres with the seats folded. The estate offers 475 (seats down) and 1,525 litres (seats folded).

Safety should also benefit from the improved packaging, with increased crumple zones helping Ford to achieve the five star EuroNCAP rating they so badly need (the current Focus only scored four stars).

Four petrol and two diesel engines will be available in Europe to start with. The petrol range starts with a 1.4-litre four-cylinder unit developing 79bhp and 91lb/ft of torque. It’s enough to push the Focus to a 101mph speed, with the 0-62mph dash covered in 14.1 seconds. Economy is 42.7mpg on the combined cycle.

Next up are two 1.6-litre petrol units. The first, with 99bhp and 110lb/ft, tops out at 111mph and completes the 0-62mph run in 11.9 seconds with identical economy to the 1.4-litre unit – 42.7mpg. The second features Ford’s Ti-VCT system helping it to achieve 114bhp and 114lb/ft of torque. Top speed is 117mph with 0-62mph in 10.8 secs. Economy on the combined cycle is 43.8mpg.

The largest petrol power-plant for now is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 143bhp and 136lb/ft, capable of a 127mph top speed, 0-62mph in 9.2 secs and 39.8mpg.

A 1.8-litre power-plant with 118bhp will follow some time in 2005, as will a much hotter ST version, possibly using the 217bhp 2.5-litre V6 from the Mondeo, although rumours have also suggested that Volvo’s 2.5-litre five cylinder turbocharged unit producing 220bhp could be used.

The diesel units feature the latest common-rail technology with particulate filters, and will meet Euro IV emissions regulations and therefore avoid the additional three-percent tax liability. The 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit offers 108bhp and 177lb/ft, while a 2.0-litre unit provides an impressive 133bhp and 236lb/ft. Performance figures for the 1.6 are a 116mph top speed, 0-62mph in 10.9 secs and 58.9mpg, while the 2.0-litre goes on to 125mph, 0-62mph in 9.3 secs and 51.4mpg.

Transmissions are five-speed manual boxes, six-speed on the 2.0-litre diesel, and an option for a CVT unit on the 1.6-litre petrol and diesel units.

Expect much improved cabin quality levels, with superior materials to the old model and less stingy kit. There’s more adjustability, too, with more travel on the telescopic steering wheel and the option of adjustable pedals to follow later.

Equipment levels are yet to be set, but we’d expect to find electric front windows, CD player, air conditioning, multiple airbags and remote locking as standard, with the usual fashionable items such as adaptive forward lighting, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity on some higher models.

The new Focus should hit showrooms in the UK in January 2005, with prices expected to start around the £11,500 mark.