Ford wants you to know that it’s more than just commercial vehicles and cars. It wants to be seen as a technology innovator too. Of course, the Detroit automaker has long had a friendly relationship with technology, what with its Sync infotainment platform, its support for third-party apps and, obviously, its investment in autonomous vehicles, its certainly heading in the right direction.
Earlier today, a handful of prominent influencers and media – myself included – were whisked off to the less traveled but scenic routes of Durban, towards Port Shepstone, to experience the all new Ford Focus ST as it launches. While we at SA VIBE play more emphasis onto the technology that these beasty cars are made off, its evident that Ford’s new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto must be doing well.
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On the same breath while we (South Africa) regularly get Ford’s latest cars, we haven’t been so lucky with Sync. South Africans typically have to make do with the basic version rather that is MyFord Touch. At today’s launch event I was glad to notice that locals won’t have to settle when the 2015 Focus ST rolls out on dealership floors this week, though. The sporty, redesigned car will bring Sync 2, which is effectively MyFord Touch under a new name; drivers get a similar 8-inch touchscreen interface with sophisticated control over the climate system, media playback and helpful browsing through your smartphone’s message and call logs. The 2015 refresh brings a few welcome tech upgrades no matter where you live, including optional blind-spot detection and lane warnings.
As previously mentioned, the Sync 2 features a much brighter touchscreen with sharper graphics and other multi-touch functions. It also sports larger onscreen buttons and high-contrast fonts to minimize driver futzing. The interface has been completely redesigned with three zone choices on the home screen: navigation (not available in SA), audio and phone. To streamline all of this Ford has redesigned the new Focus ST interior for a more intuitive layout that is also simpler, with a clearer visual connection between the key components and significantly fewer buttons in the cabin,
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The system was designed to be used primarily with voice control, however, and now accepts much more conversational commands. For example, a driver can just say “Play ‘Coffee'” to hear the Miguel song off his latest album, without having to enter more specific info as before.
When conceiving its second-gen Sync system, Ford polled customers who said the most urgently needed improvement was (yep) more speed, though we could’ve saved them the trouble. As such, it added a much faster processor and other improved hardware. Kuda Takura, Ford’s Brand Manager told me that it wanted the Sync 2 to have benchmarked performance, “so that the system could be as fast as a tablet or smartphone, especially in terms of touch and voice responsiveness.”
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From my brief, hour long experience with the Sync 2 system as passenger and driver its evident Ford has been putting a lot of time to make this a centralised system that users – not only the driver but the passengers as well – can use with ease and fosters concentration onto whats more important; the road. First time users are urged to at least spend a good quality of time familiarising themselves with the system and its controls before hitting the road. While we’re yet to get our full detailed review of the system, it comes standard on the Focus ST3 model which retails for R421 900. If that doesn’t sit well in your pocket, the Focus ST1 is set at R381 900 – minus the Sync 2 features.