While Ford Sync is just now arriving in Australia (and we don’t have a set date for the technology to land in New Zealand yet) I was invited to experiment some of the advanced technology on board the current Ford Mondeo Titanium model available here.
This is obviously a different kind of car review. We’re not going into how much power you get out of the car, or how economic it is. Instead I will be looking at some of the technology available now for New Zealand drivers.
The first thing was the “delivery”. I visited a Ford reseller in Wellington and was pleasantly surprised with the knowledge demonstrated. The person showing the car around seemed to understand the gadgets in general and had no problems explaining functionality – including Bluetooth operation, which is in general one of the hardest thing to do.
The Ford Mondeo Titanium is indeed a beautiful car and a comfortable ride. Acceleration was smooth and silent with a pleasant power steering.
Walk to the locked car you will notice the wing mirrors are folded – sign that this car is locked. Those mirrors will always fold when you lock the car. Keyless entry and start work really well. Just pull the door handle and you open the door without pulling the key fob pout of your pocket. Sit, put your foot on the brake and you can start the car by pressing the big round Start button. With the key fob still in your pocket.
Because I always drive with lights on the best setting for lights was “Auto”, which basically will turn the headlights on when dark, keeping a courtesy driving light on all the time.
Other interesting things Ford has done with lights include the “Follow me home” system which basically keeps the lights on for a few minutes longer after you leave the car, and the cornering headlights that will illuminate the path your car will follow when you turn the steering wheel. This was most noticeable when getting home at night and turning into the driveway, which a lot more visible earlier than when driving our old car.
Taking the car out of our narrow driveway was a noisy mission, thanks to the parking sensors. This noisy feature alerts the driver of nearby walls, cars and obstacles. Very handy when parking in a tight spot on the street but I soon found out it was better to turn it off when backing out of our driveway.
Going down our hillside was uneventful. Perhaps because the power steering offers an effortless handling, or because of its dynamic stability control, a system that prevents the car getting out of control in corners by applying different brake levels to each wheel as well as reducing engine torque when needed.
And you don't even need to push the indicator lever all the way: a simple touch and it will blink for three seconds, perfect for those lane switch or going out of roundabouts.
The Sony stereo system with Bluetooth worked really well, with capacity for pairing up to five mobile devices. It automatically synchronises the phonebook with your car so you can later use either your voice or the control on the steering wheel to dial. As expected active calls will automatically turn down music volume for the duration of the call. And you can easily access a USB port inside the glovebox to connect a portable music player to the system.
The dashboard display comes with the instruments we expect, plus a digital display that provides current status, radio information, phone management, as well as setting controls for the many configuration options available.
You use the display to set options such as the distance you want to keep from a car in front of you when driving with the adaptive cruise control, a feature that will not only accelerate and reduce speeds when set, but actively keep the distance from cars in front of you. I used it a few times to drive from Wellington to the suburb where we live, and once you set the cruise control it is pretty much a hands only driving experience.
The rain sensing wipers performed as advertised and kept the windshield clean when rain started pouring, without me having to do anything. Also to note is the heated windshield. While not something I see being used much in Auckland or Wellington, it is certainly a feature for our South Island drivers.
The Blind Spot Information System is a cunning feature that alerts you of any other vehicle in a blind spot zone, invisible on the mirrors. Basically a very bright orange LED that will turn on when you are driving and a car is behind you in the blind spot where you can’t see it in the mirror. If you are used to cycle between front view and mirrors there’s no way to miss the LED when it decides to light up.
An interesting feature was the Lane Departure Warning . It basically monitors your progress on the road and if it senses the car driving over the markings it will provide feedback by vibrating the steering wheel. This is used mainly to wake up drivers who might be slowly getting off the road and need a “shake up”.
- overall embedded technology pretty easy to use
- the cornering headlights make it a lot easier to drive at night
- very comfortable heated leather seats
- very quiet motoring