Too much of a FocusBy Kenneth M. del Rosario
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A car loaded with features is one thing. But it’s a totally different story when a vehicle is fitted with advanced technological features that actually work—those that make the driving experience all the more fun and exciting.
The all-new Ford Focus has many of the latter.
In fact, the latest iteration in the Focus line has features that become available in the Asean market (or for its car segment) for the very first time. These include the Active Park Assist and the Active City Stop systems-both of which are poised to make the driving experience of Filipino motorists much safer and simpler.
“It’s very much a driver’s car. It’s very pointed and precise. Yet with the many features we’ve added to it, the all-new Focus still has that same Ford global DNA that gives it a consistent look and feel,” said Ashwani Kumar Galhotra, Ford Motor Co.’s vice president for product development in Asia Pacific and Africa.
To further demonstrate how the new Focus inspires confidence in driving with its unparalleled quality, Ford invited select members of the motoring press (this writer included) to Krabi, Thailand, last week for a test drive and exhibition.
The test drive in Thailand came days after the new Focus was unveiled to the country’s automobile reporters at the Rockwell Tent in Makati City.
The class-exclusive Active Park Assist system is a feature that allows the driver to automatically park the car—totally hands-free—in just under a minute. Once activated with a simple touch of a button, the system begins scanning for an available parking space.
When an ideal space (as tight as 1.2 times the length of the Focus) has been identified, the system calculates trajectory using its powerful sensors and steers the car into the slot as if by magic.
“The Focus effectively takes out the stress of parallel parking. With this system, the driver is left only with operating the accelerator and brake pedals,” said Chris Harrigan, the company’s driver assistance technologies supervisor for Asia-Pacific and Africa.
The Active City Stop, on the other hand, is a system that helps mitigate low-speed collisions by automatically applying the brakes when the car’s ultrasonic sensors recognize that impact is imminent.
With this system, drivers will see the Focus stop some 12 inches from the car directly in front of it so long as the speed does not exceed 30 kph. While this may reduce the severity of accidents with cars or even avoid them totally, drivers should remain alert at all times as the sensors only detect cars (not animals or motorcycles).
“It’s a compelling product that has a wide array of technologies generally found only in larger, more expensive vehicles. It’s a game-changer in the mid-size car segment,” said Galhotra.
The new Focus is a key element of the Ford product portfolio in the region. It will be produced at the Ford’s new $450-million, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Rayong, Thailand, which will supply the entire Asean region as well as other export markets.
Distinguished by its sleek and sporty design, the latest in the Focus range introduces a new look, four-tier model line-up that includes the entry level Ambiente; the mid-series Trend; the dynamic Sport and Titanium; and the high-tech luxury Sport+ and Titanium+ models.
The Sport and Sport+ models are available in a five-door hatchback bodystyle while the Titanium and Titanium+ models are available in a four-door sedan version.
In the Philippines, the price of the sedan version of the Focus ranges from P859,000 to P1.199 million, while the hatchback models have a price tag of between P929,000 and P1.199 million.
Aside from the aforementioned features, the new Focus has a host of other practical and useable features such as the Smart Keyless Entry, which allows drivers to lock or unlock the door without having to take out the key out of the bag or pocket. It also has the Ford Power Start button that fires up the engine with one touch.
Of course, there’s also the award-winning Ford SYNC system powered by Microsoft, which enables drivers to make calls or play music using voice commands.
Out of the 4 million units sold so far with the Ford SYNC system, the new Focus is the first vehicle in the Asean region to have the system built-in, according to Rodney Phillips, the company’s SYNC engineering manager in Asia Pacific and Africa.
“The goal of improving the SYNC with its impressive voice-command capabilities is to have the drivers’ hands on the wheel, eyes on the road so as to lessen the distraction from what he or she is primarily supposed to do so—to drive,” Phillips said.
But the list of striking features does not end there.
Ford engineers managed to enhance the Focus’ cornering agility and stability with the Torque Vectoring Control system that constantly balances the distribution of torque between the driven front wheels.
The system uses minute-breaking force, which results in better grip in cornering, becoming more evident when vehicles accelerate through a curve. It’s a welcome addition both to experienced motoring enthusiasts and newbie drivers looking for added confidence booster.
But since it’s a Focus, it’s not just a looker. It’s a monster when it comes down to its powerful engine.
The new Focus comes with a new Duratec 2.0-liter Ti-VCT engine that combines high-pressure gasoline direct injection (GDi) and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) for enhanced performance and fuel efficiency.
“The engine that comes with the new Focus is one of the most refined engines we’ve ever offered. It is 20 percent more powerful than the last Focus yet remains beautiful to look at and effective in fuel economy,” said Jon Buttress, Ford’s C Car Segment chief for Asia Pacific and Africa.
Depending on the model, the new Focus also comes with rain-sensing wipers, Active Grille Shutter (vents that automatically control airflow), powered sunroof, and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which alerts the driver whenever a car enters its blind spot.
With over 10 million units sold since its introduction in 1998, the new Ford Focus is expected to continue to become one of the consumer favorites as it is expected to be sold in more than 120 markets.
Galhotra said: “With a truly global team, we have put together what we have learned from the past to make sure the new Focus is centered on the safety and convenience of both driver and passengers. It truly represents the best of what Ford has to offer.”
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