Ford will soon add a new version of its North American Focus coupe, which has been updated for the 2009 model year with a sporty new look, improved performance and a revised interior. The Focus has been a strong seller for Ford, with sales rising an astonishing 88% in the past year alone no doubt on the back of the car’s impressive 35mpg fuel economy rating.

The latest revision comes after months of interviews with small-car customers and Focus enthusiasts in the U.S., especially those customers and potential customers born between 1980 and 1995. Researchers concluded that most customers wanted a sportier look and thus the Focus development team directed their efforts towards designing new front and rear fascias for the car.

Key changes include the new front bumper, which sports a similar intake to Ford’s global arch design, integrated fog lights fitted as standard, a darkened grille with chrome accents around the headlights, 17in alloy wheels, a rear spoiler and a new roof profile.

The range-topping SES coupe features more power and a sportier exhaust note as well as a new 4.2 final drive ratio in automatic versions for quicker off-the-line acceleration. A new option for 2009 is electronic stability control.

The 2009 Focus Coupe is equipped with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that delivers 143hp when mated to a five-speed manual and 140hp when equipped with an auto. Also on offer is a 130hp unit that achieves a 35mpg rating when equipped with a manual.

The new model will make its official debut on Wednesday night’s episode of American Idol before going on sale in the middle of the year with a starting price of $15,920.