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2011 Ford Focus auto parking test

We get behind the wheel of Ford's 2011 Focus and test out some of its tech toys.

The Ford Focus has been a familiar sight on Britain’s roads for the best part of a decade. Undeniably one of the most popular cars in the UK, the Focus is well known for value and reliability but isn’t famous for being at the forefront of in-car technology.

Ford is hoping to change these perceptions with the newest version of the Focus, which has more technology as standard than a luxury BMW 7-series. We headed up to the Magna Science Centre in Sheffield, originally the home of Templeborough steel works, for a hands-on test of the gadgets inside the car.

Driver assists

Possibly the most impressive piece of technology fitted to our test car was the Active Park Assist function. This is an option on the Titanium and top-end Titanium X models, and means the car can now take over if you have trouble with parallel parking.

The video below was filmed in 3D. To watch it with 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 the driver 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 using. Of course, driving out again is entirely up to the driver.

Even if you prefer to park without assistance, the optional Park Pilot detection system helps prevent knocks and scrapes. A three-stage audible and visual warning system lets you know if you’re getting too close to another car or an obstacle.

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