The Sound of Science: Ford Focus ST Features Active Sound Symposer

May 23rd, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Discerning sports compact drivers not only want their engines to sing, they want them to roar. Ford engineers made sure the new Focus ST does both, with the help of a new twist on an existing technology.

Ford engineers added a special sound tube – called a sound symposer – to amplify the throaty frequencies enthusiasts crave in performance cars. Engineers worked to naturally amplify the specific lower range of engine frequencies found between 200 and 450 Hz that are most pleasing to performance enthusiasts through the use of a composite “paddle” that vibrates with intake air pulses.

While the sound tube concept has been used on Mustang in the past, the sound symposer used in Focus ST is unique because of its electronically controlled valve that opens and closes based on driver inputs – engine speed, accelerator pedal position and gear selection. In lower gears, the valve is mapped more aggressively, while in higher gears the effect is dialled back to enable quieter cruising. This isn’t possible with conventional, passive sound tubes. Part of the reason Ford made these changes is that on Focus ST, for the first time, the symposer is attached directly to the intake manifold (as opposed to between the manifold and air intake).

“For ST drivers, it’s not enough to have a car that is fast or feels fast. It also has to sound fast,” says Christopher Myers, Air Induction System engineer. “Part of this is the design of the exhaust, but we went further and engineered the symposer both to dial up the nice sounds the EcoBoost delivers under the hood but dial back the interior sound volumes at part throttle.

“The turbo gives us great power across the rev range, but it presents a special challenge from a sound perspective as it absorbs much of the beautiful engine music,” Myers adds. “The symposer helps us bring the throaty sounds that drivers love.”

The secret to getting this right was developing the perfect paddle to naturally amplify the ST’s great engine sound. Ford engineers tested several different paddles. Eventually, the supplier developed a paddle with the correct stiffness that yielded the best acoustic response and ultimately, the best “flutter” and low-end frequency sound.

An international team from suppliers of the intake manifold, battery tray, electrical hardware and software, and electrical connectors came together with Ford to accelerate development of the symposer. All in all, 30 engineers from five countries had to balance NVH, materials, manufacturing and assembly considerations to bring the symposer to life.

“The sound symposer gives the Focus ST an aural split personality,” says Lisa Schoder, Ford Focus ST Marketing manager. “In everyday driving, the car is composed and refined. But under full throttle, we unleash the sonic hounds. It’s a beauty and a beast.”

Among the more visible options will be the Tangerine Scream metallic colour that will be offered exclusively on Focus ST as well as race-inspired Recaro seats with matching colour accents.

Ford Kuga Titanium 2012 Review

March 8th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

It’s about time we got the Kuga, but I didn’t used to think that. To be honest, I was wondering whether we need yet another compact SUV. Now I’m certain we do. The Ford Kuga entered into my world last week, put a smile on my face within 30 seconds and now I want one.

It’s not something I say often about the cars we get to drive. A car is a personal decision and of all the cars I’ve driven (many hundreds) there are probably only 15-20 that I would consider based on performance/value/gut feeling. Notable examples include the Lotus Elise, the Audi S5 and FPV’s F6. They are cars which also made me smile, and the fun derived from the dollars spent comes in great surpluses.

Why is the Kuga favourable to me, then, given that I don’t need all five leather-clad seats (the front two of which have 5-stage heating), I only drive 3km to work on 50kph roads and with my child-free life I rarely need to carry anything more than some light shopping? It’s because Ford has captured some of the visceral essence of the fun of driving in a car that screams practicality.

Take the Continue reading “Ford Kuga Titanium 2012 Review” »

Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Double Cab 2012 Review

December 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Utes are a fantastic invention. Serving duty for all manner of tradespeople, farmers, hardcore dudes with motocross bikes, and more, they’ve made life convenient for those that need to transport filthy stuff without hitching up a trailer, and without getting grubbiness in the driving compartment. They (mostly) drive better than a van, and with the right tyres can deal with some really rough terrain.

However, they have a dark side. Leaf spring suspension is less than ideal on the road, they’re often noisy and rough, you don’t have the luxury of a boot to hide valuables in, and for all the convenience they give you, the manufacturers are acutely aware that price is a huge factor when you’re buying a work vehicle. They’re less of an emotive purchase therefore they’ve often been lacking in features that car drivers take for granted just to keep the price down.

The new Ranger challenges this, though. It’s an improved model that’s making some of the other utes look decidedly 1999. Four things set this ute apart from the others:

Gearbox: The gearbox is a six-speed manual which has (in ute standards) a very short throw. Whereas many ute gear changes feel like you’re rowing a boat, this reminds me of my old WRX STI – notchy, needs a bit of a firm hand, but very satisfying.

Looks: Channeling the brawn of its bigger American brother, the F150, the Ranger makes many other trucks look, well, puny. Check it out next to the Mitsubishi Triton in the photo gallery and you’ll see that the Triton looks like it was starved as a child. I caught other ute drivers giving it the eye on numerous occasions.

Ride and handling: the previous model was reasonably accomplished, but this seems better. We drove the top spec Wildtrak last time, and in this new model, which is the model down, at times I was under the illusion that I was driving a car. It’s never going to slalom like a Focus Sport, but for general cruising on the motorway and reasonable quality roads, you’re going to make smooth progress. My significant other even fell asleep in the passenger seat on the trip back fromThames where some of these photos were taken. We didn’t have any mud tyres and it was raining, therefore no off-road excursions were taken. However, it has some serious off-road specs comparing it to other utes available, so it appears that it could handle what’s thrown at it. Continue reading “Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Double Cab 2012 Review” »

Ford Focus Sport 2011 Review

November 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

I had a quick ride in an ancient Focus while I was testing the new Ford Focus Sport just to get my bearings on exactly what has improved. You tend to forget the pace of change in cars, and something that was perfectly fine 10 years ago now seems like it’s barely better than a carriage pulled by a flatulent horse.

That’s not saying that the vintage Focus should have been sent to the glue factory, but it just felt low budget. Enter the new Focus Sport, champing at the bit to prove it’s a cabello blanco and able to dance on its hind quarters.

The Focus Sport packs a 2-litre 125kW petrol engine that produces 202Nm of torque. It’s no racehorse, but there’s plenty to get it galloping along. You get 17-inch alloys which are shod in 215/50R17 tyres. There’s a space saver in the boot. Interestingly, the front brake discs on the Sport are smaller than on the Trend 2-litre diesel hatch, though this could be because of the diesel’s 1500kg towing capacity as opposed to the petrol’s 500kg. Continue reading “Ford Focus Sport 2011 Review” »

2013 Ford Mustang teased online

November 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2013 Ford Mustang is on its way and is widely expected to be put on show later this week at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. To get Mustang fans all hyped up the blue oval has dropped a teaser image showing some of the changes for the new model.

The four separate shots include cropped images of redesigned head- and taillights as well as upgraded instrumentation with Ford’s Track App display. The new Mustang is expected to borrow styling cues from the current Shelby GT500 model and this will mean more a more aggressive aesthetic.

Aerodynamics are also set to improve with the addition of a new chin splitter and rear spoiler. But for many fans, what’s in store for the new 2013 GT500 has them really excited. Continue reading “2013 Ford Mustang teased online” »

Ford reveals five-door Fiesta ST concept

November 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ford first previewed its upcoming Fiesta ST in concept form at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show with a three-door version of the hatch.

Now, Ford has a more production-ready model for the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show, it’s a hatchback-variant and will give Ford fans a better taste of the hot hatch.

In Ford’s official press release it states that “The five-door Fiesta ST Concept shows the promise for a globally available performance model.”and goes on to say, “The Fiesta ST Concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model [the Focus ST]. The potential for delivering the ST experience to an even wider audience is laid bare by this exciting new concept,” he added.

Despite these near-assurances Ford hasn’t officially confirmed production for the Fiesta ST.

Like it’s three-door stablemate the five-door concept gets the same styling treatment with a bespoke front end, aerodynamic bodykit, lowered suspension and flared wheel arches with 17-inch alloy wheels. Continue reading “Ford reveals five-door Fiesta ST concept” »

New Ford Ranger is first ute to earn 5-Star safety

October 28th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The latest round of Euro NCAP safety testing has revealed that Ford’s new Ranger is the first pickup to achieve the organisation’s highest five-star rating. The 2012 Ranger finished with an overall score of 89%, which is the best ever recorded by a pickup truck in the European testing.

To break it down, the Ranger scored 96 percent for adult occupant safety, 86 percent for child occupant safety and 81 percent for pedestrian safety. The pickup’s “safety assist” systems also achieved a 71 percent score. The most impressive figure here is the 81 percent for pedestrian safety, this is the best rating ever for pedestrian protection among the cars tested by the Euro NCAP since it was established in 1997. A surprising result for a high-riding ute.

Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen, said: “With such good pedestrian protection, the Ford Ranger is undoubtedly raising the bar of safety in the category of pickup trucks, which had until now not proven to be the safest.” Continue reading “New Ford Ranger is first ute to earn 5-Star safety” »

Ford Territory Titanium 2011 Review

October 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Since its release in 2004 the Ford Territory has become one of the success stories of the Australian car manufacturing industry. It’s found a home in the garages of many families here in NZ as well as across the ditch and has even performed duties as an emergency response vehicle. But after seven years cruising the streets how can the Territory stay desirable in a SUV market that’s packed with machinery from Japan and Europe? By offering a diesel engine option for the first time for starters, backed up by a modernising facelift, equipment upgrades and a greater emphasis on refinement. Has Ford’s $230 million dollar investment in the new Territory paid off? Car and SUV was certainly impressed by the 2011 Territory at its launch event earlier this year and got some more seat time to take a closer look.

Looks are a good place to start because in terms of styling the Territory has really shifted up a gear. The familiar proportions remain but there are now some calculated injections of Ford’s current kinetic design language. At the front there’s an all-new face with new upper and lower grilles, the headlights, bonnet and front bumper have also been replaced. These fresh touches give a wider and more muscular frontal appearance. At the rear Ford has deftly wrapped the three quarter glass around to the rear windscreen, hiding the D-pillar and giving it a slick look. New horizontal taillights replace the previous vertical design and also wrap into the rear guards. There are some more subtle general tweaks as well, like vents on the front fenders and indicator repeaters in the wing mirrors. Our tested top-spec Titanium model was dressed up further with chrome trim on the front grille, LED front lights, tinted glass and 18-inch Y-Spoke alloy wheels. In terms of design it’s a very successful facelift, the 2011 Territory looks ‘right now’ modern and dynamic while retaining its same staunch road presence. Continue reading “Ford Territory Titanium 2011 Review” »