For Ford drivers, life in the fast lane has become life in the quiet lane as engineers raise the bar for refinement by cutting noise and improving soundproofing.
However, for hot hatch drivers, engine roar is an integral part of the driving experience, and Ford engineers have come up with a unique electronically controlled solution that delivers a sporty soundtrack or a more peaceful journey, depending on driver inputs.
“Focus ST drivers want to hear the engine sing when they put their foot on the gas,” said Bjoern Boettcher, Ford of Europe’s vehicle sound quality expert. “Our cars are engineered to be quiet inside the cockpit, so we have to pull out a few tricks to give enthusiastic drivers the sound they crave – and that’s where our Sound Symposer comes in.”
The Sound Symposer amplifies the sound produced by the engine and channels it along a pipe to the dashboard panel where it is easily audible to the driver.
“Even racing drivers appreciate refinement on the road, but when the flag drops, a rich engine note like the Focus ST’s is one of the best noises you can hear,” said professional racer Tom Chilton, who drives a Ford Focus EcoBoost in the World Touring Car Championship. “Not only is an on-song engine easy on the ear of any performance car fan, but it also delivers valuable information about what’s happening under the bonnet and provides an important reference for drivers who need to use all of their senses at the wheel.”
The system developed specially for the new 250 PS 2.0-litre EcoBoost Focus ST triggers an electronically controlled valve to open under heavy acceleration that can as much as double in-cabin volume levels. It remains closed at times when the driver is likely to appreciate a more peaceful environment, such as under more moderate acceleration.
“If you take away the symposer you get close to zero engine noise in the cabin under acceleration – it’s that effective,” said Boettcher. “It is actually quite a surprising experience when you are driving a powerful car like the Focus ST.”
“Getting the right sound for the right vehicle is to a certain degree a case of trial and error and attention to detail. After developing the right position for the Symposer in the sound lab, we took it to the track and kept refining it until we really felt we had a match,” said Boettcher. “The final version fits the ST’s DNA perfectly; quiet enough to make daily driving a pleasure, yet loud enough when you want to have some fun.”
The new Focus ST is on sale in Europe now, available as a 5-door hatchback or wagon version.