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back to article 2011 Ford Focus

With Ford’s consumer research showing that drivers regard its cars as fun to drive and reliable to own but not particularly hi-tech, it’s playing the technology card heavily with the third-generation Focus. The new car comes loaded with sort of driver assistance kit that just a few years ago would only have been found on a high- …

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I hate to admit it but...

As a German car fan I hate to admit it, but looks like a solid step forward for Ford. Not going to make me trade in my Audi, but it's certainly raising the bar for its level and clipping at the heels of some more expensive brands.

I just hope all this tech isn't bringing on a generation that can't actually park their own car unassisted.

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Coat

Of course not.

The Focus will actually make you indicate before changing lanes - can't be having that!

(Mine's the one hanging next to the crash helmet.)

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RE: Of course not.

"The Focus will actually make you indicate before changing lanes - can't be having that!"

That'll be why you won't see this technology on a BMW or Audi. As we all know, the indicator lenses on those cars are for styling purposes only.

(if they had bulbs in there I'm sure we'd sometimes see them used by the drivers)

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Technology reliability

It certainly does have some impressive kit on board, but my concern is what happens when this kit starts to go wrong. Obviously that won't be a problem when its new and under warranty but could cost a fortune to a second hand owner.

Will it render the car unsaleable? Will we see unscrupulous car dealers doing the equivalent of "removing the airbag light from the dash"?

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Terminator

"...won't be a problem when it's new and under warranty..."

Yes it will, because the failure may result in property damage (goodbye no-claims discount) , injury or loss of life. That would suck.

Terminator, for obvious reasons.

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Anonymous Coward

removing the airbag light

Doing so will earn you a fail at the very next MOT when they check it lights up for a few seconds after turning the ignition on. Owning a small fleet of retros, it's always amusing to harass the youngsters who haven't professionally encountered a vehicle without airbags come test time.

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Airbag Light?

Fairly sure that's not part of the MOT.

If it is then mine would be a fail every time since it doesn't go out!

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@AC

>Doing so will earn you a fail at the very next MOT when they check it lights up for a few seconds after turning the ignition on.

Usual method is to add a resistor in crappier cars or simply disable them via the ECU. 12 of the bloody things in my car, most of which have to be disabled as my usual rear passengers are still in child seats. [air bags + babies/toddlers = death/injury]

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IT Angle

Eh ?

Has the Reg moved into Top Gear territory now ?

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Go

It's got computers in it

Innit?

Go... obviously...

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WTF?

re: Top Gear

At least the Focus can be sensibly described as hardware. About half the current reghardware reviews are for Android and iOS apps.

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Innit tho?

I look forward to next week's review of my washing machine. It's also got computers innit in it innit.

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Happy

Dare I.....

... suggest that the depths of Ford's marketting department budget means they can "encourage" a non-auto website to run a puff piece on their new "hi-tech" motor?

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Gates Horns

Sync Naming

In the US, when Ford introduced Sync, it was always called 'Microsoft Sync'.

For the past year, they've dropped the 'Microsoft' part of the name - apparently MS is not a name that increases car sales.

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Anonymous Coward

Sync

Are you sure about that? I recall it was Ford Sync powered by Microsoft. I don't remember it being called Microsoft Sync since Sync is Ford's technology on top of Microsoft's embedded Windows CE for autos.

FWIW, the current US version is a huge improvement over the North American version(minus Mexico and Latin America who were getting the Euro-version) the US was getting the past few years. It is much more similar to the car reviewed here.

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Sync

The underlying technology is actually called Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive, which could be enough to strike terror into the hearts of some people. Which is possibly the reason I've only ever heard the final product referred to as Ford Sync, certainly for as long as Leo Laporte has had them as a sponsor on his network.

As for this bit...

"To prevent the system mistaking deliberate lane changes for accidental meandering the indicators cancel the system."

...forget add-on packages, that should be a standard feature on ALL cars. It might just discourage all those selfish cocks who think it's OK to change lanes at the last second without indicating or checking their blind spot.

If that works, the next step is a system that won't let a driver leave a roundabout until they've signalled their intent to other road users. We can't all be Derren fucking Brown you know. Some of us need a visible CLUE as to what you might be going to do next.

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Joke

Wait until Service Pack 2 before buying this car!

... if it's got anything Microsoft in it!

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Coat

That might prove interesting...

"will get you from standstill to 62mph in 7.9 seconds and then to 138mph."

Until you install SP3, after which it will take five minutes to start the engine, do 0-60 in 79 seconds and go on to a top speed of 13.9mph...

V.

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Sync

At least Sync is a better name than Fiat's MS tie-up "Blue And Me" which sounds like a Nickeloden Jr. cartoon about a blue cartoon dog.

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Go

What @TheFamousGrouse said... and then some...

Everything as said by "The Infamous Grouse".

It isn't clever, funny or even worthwhile being a moron who cannot be arsed to indicate when changing lanes or at roundabouts. I mean seriously, it doesn't really cost you anything (unless a fractional bit of wear measured in some tiny unit matters that much), and we would all get home safer, easier and with less messing around (and hey, we'd prob end up being able to save the planet better by avoiding extra slow downs because we think you're about to do something you aren't doing, which is better for the general environment if you think about it).

I swear you should have this as standard, and while we're at it, some sort of gunfire from the rear car after a few seconds warning to shoot you if you cannot get a grip of the basic concept of not parking your car on my rear bumper but keep a sane distance "just in case" any of us have something suddenly needing some rapid slow down (you know, like cocks who undertake AND don't indicate and then just dive right on a roundabout from the left filter lane all in a few seconds.

(The only flaw with the grouses roundabout suggestion would be how you'd "indicate" to signal "straight across" ... of course if everyone did just indicate properly we'd know what the lack of indication meant too.

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Joke

What do you mean it doesn't cost you anything? It could bloody well cost you

the spot you were about to move into! Don't you know ANYTHING about city driving?!

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Have they found some boot space in this one?

My one and only Focarse experience was picking one up as a hire with three other people to find that it's measly rear storage wouldn't accomodate four laptops and overnight bags. Cue two hours on the motorway with colleagues bitching about having bags underfoot.

For some reason, all the hagiographic reviews at the time managed to overlook that Ford's class-leading rear legroom had been achieved by removing all the luggage space. They'd also managed to gloss over the fact that the interior trim was of Ford's usual crap standard[1] on all but the highest specced vehicles and that the seats were from Ford's usual supplier, the Spanish Inquisition.

Never trust an independant Ford product review. Ford are the largest advertising spender in the automotive sector and are well-known to pull advert placements at the merest hint of a less than glowing writeup. That's the justification I got when I asked a freelance Motoring Journalist why the industry's collective tongue was so far up Ford's cleft anyway.

[1] i.e. The sort of hard plastics that the Korean manufacturers always get criticised for. One law for them and all that.......

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Happy

Surely a seat to Spanish Inquisition standards...

... would be a comfy chair?

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Boot space

There will doubtless be a fusion or a cmax with the same spec package soon.

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A comfy chair?

A comfy chair?

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boot space

I haven't need to pack the boot of any variant of Focus, but I remember the Telegraph's review stating that the Mark 2 Focus had a huge boot capable of taking a folded wheelchair and thus improving the chances of UK Motability customers choosing it.

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Not my experience

I owned a Focus - it was one of the best cars I ever owned (a list which includes Jags, Audis, BMWs, Alfa's and Volvos) and it had one of the highest interior to exterior space ratios of any car. It was also possibly the most fun car to drive ever.

Drove that car for almost 180k miles and even after that the interior materials were in good shape and squeak-free. As far as the quality of materials, the plastics weren't any harder than BMW's or Volvos and they held up better than Jags, Audi's or Alfa's. Sure, Audi had slightly better materials (hard plastics, but painted with wear prone soft touch...), but the base price of the vehicle is 3x the Focus...

I don't know what your benchmark is, but I would buy another Focus in an instant and probably will when one of my current vehicles is due for renewal.

Chris.

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Go

aye

Ive owned a fair few focus and mondeos, prefer mondeos myself (more room). Have an smax at the moment and if all this kit made its way into an smax or mondeo then I would trade up in a shot.

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Boot space

My Mk 1 ST170 is a little light on boot space but that's partly because of the woofer on the left hand side. It's still not bad though.

The wife's Mk 2 (post 2008 re-style) Titanium has a HUGE boot though. I'm sure it was biggest in class at the time.

The Mk 3 is a little smaller apparently. Should still be decent though but not experienced it myself.

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Standard

So does all this amazing kit come as standard, or must one go up the model range or start attacking the Options list in order to actually get it?

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options....

I'm under the impression from other reviews that almost all of the driver assistance type tech are only available as rather expensive options even on the titanium X.

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Troll

Budget cars with lots of technology

Budget cars with lots of technology and electronics = a recipe for endless niggly faults.

Nice if you're getting a new car as a company car but it's going to make a 4yr old one of these stupidly expensive to keep running.

The new super eco engine also have a growing habit of lunching themselves on loose bits of eco tat (i.e. swirl flaps in diesels).

How green is a car if it is only going to last 100k miles or 4 yr before it becomes uneconomical to maintain?

I doubt we'll see many of these doing the 500k-1M miles that simpler cars of the early 90s are still doing while being maintained by their owners.

I always think it notable that eco arguments always involve buying something new and not keeping what you already have running.

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Tech is useless...

The only question worth asking is will it make my penis look bigger or should I stick to saving up for a BMW?

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Anonymous Coward

Amazon,

linked at top of page as a supplier, only have a selection of parts for same. Although perhaps with ingenuity one might fabricate the missing components using the rest of their stock? I've always thought there's a place in modern vehicles for novelty inflatable seating.

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Boffin

Parking

Parking in "a gap only 20 per cent longer than the car itself" - Any competent driver should be able to do that with ease. The first things that both my dad and my driving instructor taught me were (1) any idiot can drive fast in a straight line, to be a good driver I need to have complete control in all situations including tight maneuvers at low speeds (2) The skill to be able to reverse park into any space that allows me to squeeze out the doors, and parallel park in a space no more than 6 inches / 15cm either side (for a small hatchback) .

Back-of-the envelope calculation for my old car (1st-gen Fabia) of around 4m long and 1.65 m gives a diagonal of 4.275m, so parking into a space 30cm longer than the car is possible and a space 40cm more (10% of the cars' length) is easy for a skilled driver. Parking into a space 20% larger than the car is quite impressive for a new technology but it's frankly pathetic for a human driver to be unable to do better.

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Happy

20%

Hm, ancient VW camper parks easier than that.

Air bag and stuff ? nah - the crumple zone is my legs.

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20%

I can't do that in my alfa. The turning circle is pretty poor. I can easily do 140%, but 120% would be a serious shuffle, and with the poor corner visibility and the cost of the paint I'd not bother.

What am I saying? Approach at 60, handbrake, full lock, dab-and release and go in sideways. That'd do it.

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Joke

5%

Excellent, with skill you can get into a space 5% larger than the car....

Then have to hang around until someone leaves to get it out again! :-)

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FAIL

Another step back

The improved Mk1 focus hasn't been matched since they retired it in 04/05, these newer ones all fail on the same basic issues. The power sockets are the wrong side of the gearstick so any GPS you use has a cable getting in the way of the gearstick/handbrake, there are no scuff protectors so the first shopping trolley/car door heading your way will leave scratches, the mk2 bottle holders were useless as you couldn't get a bottle under the huge arm rest. Also the mk2 comes with an AUX connector in the glovebox, trouble is there is no power source in there and you can't actually close the glovebox with an aux cable plugged in which is not very useful for your passenger (the mk3 improves this I believe). I had hoped that things would improve but it appears not much!

Fail

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Anonymous Coward

Title

>>> I can’t overcome the fear that excessive dependence on technology is removing the responsibility for driving safely from the driver to a black box under the bonnet.

Agreed. Drivers can be lazy and therefore dangerous enough as it is, but relying on technology to do a lot of things the driver should be doing is a bad thing IMO. If you're not concentrating enough to know when you're drifting out of your lane then you need to stop driving.

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WTF?

Let's all live in the Dark Ages, get Bubonic Plague and die!

Or: "I just hope all this tech isn't bringing on a generation that can't actually park their own car unassisted." Why stop there? Let's go back to typewriters and tippex. Let's go back to leeches and saws. Let's go back to powder and muskets.

I mean, how much longer are people going to keep trotting out this kind of thing every time the Reg has an article mentioning motor vehicle automation? Nothing personal, but on principle, WHY? Just WHY?

For fornication's sake this is a *technology* website? You know? Where boring, speculative, fiddly, repetitive tasks - such as road safety and car control - are offloaded to far more suitable hardware than a human brain.

I got my full UK driving licence the hard way, but if I could have taken a simplified test entitling me to drive only semi-automated vehicles, I would have. Yes they are expensive now, but prices will come down over time.

Humans walk instinctively, with a little bit of thinking. That, ideally, is how driving would be.The government should extend the automatic car licence paradigm, reduced entitlement if you pass your driving test in an automatic, as technology marches on. The day we can throw our licences in the bin and tell a clever car where to go can't come too soon!

Let the military have "real" driving, they're welcome to it :)

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Can't do that

Last typewriter factory just closed:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2384314,00.asp

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Dependence on technology?

I would prefer to see less fatal accidents as a result of drivers falling asleep or drifting into the path of oncoming traffic due to distraction. The technology aids are primarily there to enhance safety for those brief moments where they can make a worthwhile intervention.

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Over-reliance to follow

Alternately drive safety and better, stop looking over at your passenger, stop p*ssing about with your mobile phone or sat nav. Pay attention to the road and conditions, drive less aggressively. Take a break if you feel tired.

Also, you may have ABS but the person behind might not?

No technology is going to stop you mowing down kids, cyclists and pedestrians. At least not reliably anyway.

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Nice car

Just a shame Ford has continued to row back from the radical styling of the original Focus towards something much more mainstream.

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American dealer "techs"

I give it a month before the wrench monkey at the dealership f*cks all the fancy electronics. They couldn't even handle the ABS on my Camaro w/o breaking it.

And what's up with the awful puke-green color?

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Totally Agree

Ford has reinvented itself and started making good cars again, however here in the UK they are totally let down by their truly awful dealer network.

Over priced, rude and incompetent.

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Finally ...

The non-US/Canada version of the Focus/Escort was always more appealing and interesting to me. I'm glad the styling has been harmonized worldwide for this particular car. This Ford Focus looks really nice.

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Harmonised Styling

The styling for small-medium cars seems to have become harmonised across brands over the last five years too. This could be a Mazda, or a Subaru, or is it a Kia, or an Opel?

I just looked up the North American Focus. Hahaha, blech!

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Stop

In my day...

... the ability to do all these things myself was a pre-requisite for actually getting a driving license in the first place.

Oh yes, the car is pretty damn fugly too.

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