New Ford Focus
BLind-spot Information System (BLIS)
One small but very useful part of the Driver Assistance Pack is the blind-spot information system (BLIS). Its job is to make sure that you don't change lane in front of another vehicle when driving down the motorway.
Using BLIS, the car detects when another vehicle is directly in the driver’s blind spot and lights up a yellow LED on the corresponding wing mirror. The LED stays lit for a short time after the other vehicle emerges out of your blind spot. We tested the system on the motorway, but it will also work when overtaking on any road. The yellow light is unobtrusive but still very noticeable when driving, making it perfect as a gentle reminder to check over your shoulder before you make a manoeuvre.
While the Driver Assistance Pack is designed to make the car safer, the Convenience Pack (standard on the Titanium X and part of the £525 Convenience Pack on the Titanium model) is designed to make the car simpler to park and also comes with power-fold wing mirrors.
Auto Park Assist
The key feature of the Convenience Pack is Auto Park Assist, which lets the car automatically parallel park for you. The video below was filmed in 3D. To watch it on a 3D TV or monitor, click on the 3D button and select side-by-side. If you don’t have a 3D screen, you can still watch in 3D, but you'll need a pair of red and blue glasses. Click on the 3D button below the video and select the Red/Cyan option. Make sure the colours are round the right way using the options. If you prefer to watch in 2D, click on 'no glasses' then change the mode to 'left only'.
When the driver presses the parking button, sensors around the car start scanning the distance between parked cars. When a suitable space is found, a message appears on the screen in the centre console telling you to stop. With the accelerator and brake controlled by the driver, the car steers itself into the space, prompting when to change between reverse and first gear. Another message flashes up when parking is finished, which should help a lot of people get into spaces that they might otherwise avoid because of having to parallel park. Of course, driving out again is entirely up to the driver.
It worked flawlessly in our tests, but the downside of the system is that it needs a relatively large space to work - larger than a space that you could manually squeeze the car into yourself. This could mean that you could spend more time looking around for a suitable space than if you just parked the car yourself.
Rear Park Assist is included in the Convenience Pack, and helps you manually park the car, either parallel or straight into a space. Sensors in the front and rear bumpers detect how close the car is to objects such as cars, lampposts and bollards, and this information is relayed to the driver with ever-quickening beeps and a dashboard display showing where and how close the objects are. We liked the extra information on-screen, which is far better than the traditional audio-only warning. The system didn't pick up low kerbs, but for reverse-parking into a crowded car park we can certainly see the advantages of having it on board.
If you don't want to pay for Active Park Assist, you can get Rear Park Assist as part of the City Pack (£275 on the Titanium and £525 on the Edge and Zetec models).