Ford Focus appears to be making headway in its intended market — the Orient-oriented west.

While West Coast juggernaut Honda Motor Co. Ltd. says its Civic is outselling Focus by a 2:1 margin in California, the Japan-based auto-maker admits Ford Motor Co. is making progress. Civic had been outselling Focus 3:1.

Nationwide, Civic outsold Focus 306,748 to 286,166 in 2000, the year Focus was named car of the year in both Europe and North America.

News of the sales surge comes on the heels of the New York Auto Show debut of Focus S2. Designed for the young performance enthusiast with its European-tuned suspension and based on the ZX3 hatchback, S2 is the latest “statement edition” Focus unveiled by Ford.

Due out this summer, S2 won't be the last Focus variation, Ford says. Other renditions will follow the showroom debuts this fall of a five-door hatchback and the 170-hp, 6-speed SVT Focus.

But Honda is not taking Ford's forward push lying down. It has tweaked its “Si” heritage for 2002 when the storied badge will appear on an all-new hatchback version of Civic. Aimed at the “tuner” crowd targeted by Ford, Si features a close-ratio 5-speed transmission with its gearshift mounted, rally-style, on the center dashboard.

No pricing has been announced for the Si, which will be built in Swindon, England.