Ford Focus (14-): SYNC or swim

  • We put Ford's SYNC2 multimedia system to the test
  • Find out which bits we love and which we hate
  • Are its drawbacks enough to put you off buying it?

Every Focus from Titanium grade upwards gets Ford’s latest SYNC2 multimedia system, and since ours is a top-spec Titanium X, we're well-placed to examine its highs and lows.

Voice control

Many of the functions of the system work either via the touchscreen or by voice control, accessed by pushing this button on the steering wheel:

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve not had a huge amount of success with the voice control. My main issue isn’t anything to do with the car, though. It’s my phone – or more precisely, the way my phonebook is arranged in my mobile.

The car picks up exactly how the entry has been input into the phone, but over the years my phones have changed and so has the way they've stored contacts. This means I need to read out exactly how the car reads the contact, which very often doesn’t relate to how I think of them.

For example, if I want to call ‘Home’, I need to remember my phone has stored it as a work number and say “call home work”. While I know that now, my contacts list is rather extensive, so there's no simple way I can remember each number's format every time. Often I still have to pull the car over and park up if I want to make a call.

Still, answering calls is as simple as using the pick-up and put-down buttons flanking the voice control button.

 

Layout


The basic format of the system involves four corners: phone, navigation, entertainment and climate. There’s also a trio of graphics in the middle at the bottom of the screen which are for information, the home screen and settings.

They’re always displayed on the screen, which makes accessing each part of the system very easy - touching them enters the menus for the various functions of the system.

 

Screen

The eight-inch touchscreen installed in the dash is clear and easy to read; being set back slightly helps shield it from glare, but in mid-summer I’ve still had a few instances where it's been difficult to read. 

My main issue with it is the distance it is away from the driver’s seat. It means a stretch for me. That’s because Ford expects you to use the voice control system instead, though, so it’s difficult to be too critical.

I’ve found fingerprints to be a small annoyance too as the screen seems to pick them up worse than most. 

 

Navigation

In the main, the sat-nav system installed in the Focus’ SYNC2 system is very intuitive and simple to operate along with an unusually accurate estimated time of arrival. The live traffic updates help in this respect and it’ll even send you on a different route if it thinks it’ll be quicker.

My only real issue is one of speed; when entering a postcode the menu defaults to numbers first rather than letters, which doesn’t work for UK postcodes. It's not alone in this 'fault' but it's frustrating that it requires multiple menu swaps to finish postcode input.  

I do like the ‘My Home’ function though. Two screen presses and the car will guide you to the home you’ve entered from anywhere in the country - though it's worth remembering this is a classic giveaway for any car thieves looking to break into your home too (especially if you have your house keys on your car's key ring). 

 

Music

There’s a choice of normal radio, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth music streaming, CD player, USB connection, SD card and line-in connections; you’re not going to be left wanting for choice.

My personal preference is usually Bluetooth streaming, because it allows me to beam music from an online service direct to the car and play in real time. It means I’ll never need to have to carry CDs or USBs again.

 

Mileage: 6,507

Fuel economy: 48.9mpg