Ford Focus (14-): Driving Assistance

  • Our Focus is laden with clever technology
  • Much of it makes life easier for the driver
  • Find out which we rate and which we could do without

I’m a fan of technology. While I love driving, I do rather a lot of it, and anything that can take away a bit of the strain is a good thing in my books.

With that in mind I was thrilled when I saw the spec sheet of our new Ford Focus. It’s rammed with equipment – both standard and optional - aiming to assist the driver, so I thought I’d take you through them to suss out what’s hot or not.

Probably the thing I use most is the cruise control. This is operated by a set of controls on the steering wheel as you can see in the below picture:

But it’s not the most sophisticated I’ve ever used because it isn’t adaptive. Many manufacturers now offer a system which will adjust your car’s speed up to your desired maximum, which means you’re able to follow the car in front without having to use the throttle and brakes. The Volkswagen Golf is available with such a system – and that’s one of the Focus’ main rivals.

That’s not to say the cruise control in the Focus doesn’t work, though. You just have to manually govern speed rather than the car doing it for you. It’s an easy thing to control using the left thumb. It features a speed limiter too, which could come in handy if you don’t want to stray over the limit.

This car also has the optional £450 Driver Assistance Pack installed. This nets you a lane-departure warning system and lane-keeping aid (activated via a button on the left-hand indicator stalk) which will warn and then steer you back if you begin to drive out of your lane. The pack has a traffic sign recognition system as well, which I’m finding a very useful feature on unfamiliar roads. Put simply, it displays the speed limit of the road you’re driving on, so you don’t run the risk of finding yourself on the wrong side of the law.

The final two systems featured in the pack are a driver alert (which detects fatigue) and automatic high-beam headlights – which work better than many I’ve tried. A lot of similar systems don’t pick up on some lights and others take too long to dip the headlight beam upon sensing an on-coming car, but the Ford set-up has obviously been well-developed in this regard.

Another optional extra on this car is the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), which illuminates an orange light in the wing mirror when a car is sitting in your blind spot. No more craning your neck around to check ‘manually’, then? Not exactly: I do it as a natural part of my driving, so this £525 option seems a little lost on me. I’d probably spend that extra cash on Ford’s attractive Deep Impact Blue paint scheme instead.

One standard feature I’m glad I haven’t had to use is the Active City Stop function. This will stop the car automatically at low speeds if the car detects a crash is imminent, and slow it down at higher speeds to mitigate the effects of an unavoidable collision.

And while this car has a rear-view camera for parking, I simply find myself using the mirrors and looking backwards. There are front and rear sensors that provide an audible warning if you're close to something, so a combination of these things enables perfect parking without the camera. There's an automatic parking system installed too, though I'll be going through that in more detail in another update. It's really rather good, you see. 

I’m loving Ford’s keyless entry and start system on the Focus too. I simply leave the keys in my pocket now. The door opens with a touch of a handle and the push-button start simply requires a quick prod while you've engaged the clutch.

One final nod to automation – the automatic headlights and wipers are brilliant. I just hope I can remember that not every car will do this for you!

Mileage: 5,029

Fuel economy: 48.7mpg