Tuesday, 26 March 2019

New model’s Focus on potholes could pay off

New model’s Focus on potholes could pay off

HENLEY motorists must gnash their teeth at any mention of the word “pothole”. The word has to stir up almost as much bile as the
B-word itself (no prizes for guessing what that is).

But while leaving Europe may present its own unique set of problems in years to come, potholes are the scourge of British roads right now (including those in South Oxfordshire).

The statistics are alarming. A study by the AA has found that potholes in Britain’s roads are costing drivers and insurance companies a total of £1 million a month in repairs.

Ford has produced a clever piece of technology that could give drivers a less than rocky ride on our roads where potholes are concerned.

This week’s drive, the Ford Focus ST-Line X, was packed with technological features.

But the one that interested me was an option called Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD) that operates on the independent front and rear suspension systems.

Now this CCD system, which includes Selectable Drive Mode (more of which later), will cost you £650 as an optional extra. But as far as I could tell by driving the all-new Ford Focus, it works well and could be worth the money. I did not exactly aim the car at the biggest pothole I could find to test CCD, but driving normally — and therefore frequently encountering potholes — the ride seemed to be smoother and more controlled.

I think what is important about CCD technology is that it definitely does alleviate any really damaging encounter with a pothole and therefore adds to the driver’s peace of mind (and ultimately helps his or her finances).

This is how CCD technology works: it detects the edge of a pothole and adjusts the damper so that the wheel doesn’t fall as far into it.

Because the tyre and wheel do not drop as far, they do not strike the opposite side of the pothole as harshly.

The rear suspension can respond even faster, says Ford, with a signal from the front wheel providing a pre-warning to the rear wheel well before it reaches the pothole.

Ford says the Focus’s CCD technology is so advanced that every two milliseconds it monitors suspension, body, steering and braking inputs, and “adjusts damping responses for the best ride quality”.

The Focus, which I found a well-turned out car that was a pleasure to drive, has been developed from the ground up.

The CCD system also supports Selectable Drive Mode technology. Normal, Sport and Eco modes are offered for the first time on a Focus, enabling drivers to immediately adjust throttle pedal, eight-speed automatic gearbox, Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) and ACC characteristics to match the driving situation.

When equipped with CCD, the Focus is also offered with Comfort and Eco-Comfort drive modes, and will adjust the suspension character accordingly.

As I said, this is a thoughtfully produced car that deserves its many fans. This new version is bound to follow the Focus’s successful past.

Indeed, Ford has sold almost seven million Focus cars in Europe and more than 16 million around the world since the first generation Focus was introduced in 1998.

Another first on this Focus is that it is the first Ford vehicle in Europe to offer a head-up display (HUD), which helps drivers keep their eyes on the road by projecting driver information into their field of vision. The Focus’s lighting technologies include an Adaptive Front Lighting System that adjusts the headlight beam angle and intensity to match the driving environment and glare-free high beam that removes the guilt of accidentally dazzling other drivers while helping users see more of the road ahead at night.

Additional technologies designed to help Focus drivers avoid accidents and distraction include:

• Evasive Steering Assist, designed to operate at city and motorway speeds, which uses radar and a camera to detect slower-moving and stationary vehicles ahead and provides steering support to enable drivers to manoeuvre around a vehicle if a collision is imminent.

• Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, which warns drivers reversing out of a parking space of vehicles that may soon be crossing behind them and can for the first time now apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions if drivers do not respond to warnings.

It may well be that this car with its “pothole-beating” technology appeals to you. That is entirely understandable. But the new Ford Focus is also a soundly produced and comfortable car that is easy to live with.

Words: Nigel Wigmore

Factfile

Ford Focus ST-Line X five-door

Test car price on the road: £32,495

Combined mpg: 47.9

CO2 g/km: 133

Top speed: 129mph

Standard key features include: 5x2-spoke 18in Matt Black alloy wheels

Optional extras on test car include:

CCD technology including Selectable Drive Mode in lieu of sports suspension (£650)

LED headlights (£750)

Head-up display (£400)

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