HI-TECH COMES INTO FOCUS
Ford’s imminent hatch gets unique night vision
Ford has unveiled a small car that can see around corners at night — even before it gets to them.
Unlike other cars that rely on steering to change the beam of the headlights, the world first technology on the new Focus uses cameras in the windscreen to scan the road ahead to detect corners and roundabouts up to 65 metres away. At night the car will adjust the headlights to enhance drivers’ vision in turns without dazzling oncoming traffic.
Ford says the camera uses lane markings and roads signs to “pre-adjust headlamp patterns for improved visibility by monitoring bends in the road and — for the first time in the industry — road signs”.
The technology does not end there. The new Focus — due in Australia late this year and reverting to German rather than Thai manufacture — also will prevent drivers from accidentally driving the wrong way on a freeway.
The “Wrong Way Alert” uses a windscreen mounted camera and information from the car’s navigation to provide drivers with “audible and visual warnings when driving through two ‘No Entry’ signs on a motorway ramp”.
It will be available initially in Germany, Austria and Switzerland but other countries are set to follow.
In Focus automatic versions, the humble gear shift lever has been replaced by a rotary dial, as in the latest Jaguars and Land Rovers.
The Focus will have improved “lane centring technology” when the car is driven in semiautonomous mode, with radar cruise control.
In top-end versions, drivers won’t need to touch the pedals in the daily grind. Ford says the latest generation of its “stop and go” tech will bring the Focus to a complete halt in stopstart traffic — and automatically pull away — if stopped for less than three seconds.
If the halt is longer, the driver pushes a button on the steering wheel or gently applies the accelerator to pull away.
European versions will be available with speed sign recognition tech that detects signs rather than relying solely on navigation data — which can become quickly out of date and does not account for road works zones. The tech is yet to be confirmed for Australia. Another claimed first is the “glare-free” high-beam that illuminates the road ahead without dazzling other drivers while the latestgeneration autonomous emergency braking can detect cyclists and pedestrians, as well as stopped traffic.
Final details of the line-up will be revealed closer to the on-sale date in November.
A range of new engines is available in Europe. Australia-bound models are set for a big change under the bonnet, with a pair of 1.5litre three-cylinders replacing fours.
The base engine is matched to a six-speed auto. Dearer grades will come with a turbo triple matched to an eight-speed auto.
Ford also unveiled the sporty “ST-Line” as the successor to its ST hot hatch, due in showrooms at least 12 months after the mainstream Focus range.
In Europe, Ford will sell an off-road style version as a rival for the Subaru XV, although it has not been confirmed for Australia.