NICE, France – Some of the technologies featured on the high-performance ’13Focus ST will find their way to the rest of the auto maker’s vehicle lineup, Hau Thai-Tang, vice president- engineering, Global Product Development, says at a media event here.
Electronic power steering is one. Although mostvehicles already feature EPAS, the Focus ST’s unique setup could prove beneficial to other models, he says, citing torque-steer compensation as an example.
Torque steer is a common problem among high-powered front-wheel-drive cars, causing the vehicle to swerve upon acceleration. Ford’s more-aggressive tuning allows drivers to accelerate at full throttle yet still find grip. The system detects torque steer and communicates that to the EPAS software, which corrects the problem.
Most of Ford’s FWD vehicles don’t produce the 252 hp and 270 lb.-ft. (366 Nm) of torque made by the Focus ST’s inline 4-cyl. direct-injected EcoBoost engine. But the torque-compensation technology fits into the auto maker’s long-term plans.
“Torque steer has always been a limitation to how much power you can add to FWD vehicles,” Thai-Tang tells WardsAuto. “Torque-steer compensation is a lot more than just the normal nibble compensation, so we’ll be applying that as we go to more and more EcoBoost engines with higher torque.”
Some Ford competitors ignore torque-steer issues as they keep adding horsepower to their FWD vehicles, he says. While that strategy allows them to advertise higher horsepower and torque figures, it diminishes the driver’s experience.
“Some of our competitors have more advertised horsepower, but when we drive the vehicles we notice there’s a lot of torque steer, so it’s not really usable,” he says. “As a driver you would have to back off the power because you’re not able to deliver it in the path you want.”
Another technology likely to migrate to other Ford products is overboost, which is designed to extend the peak torque of the Focus ST’s 2.0L direct-injected turbocharged 4-cyl. engine for 15 seconds at a time when at full throttle.
Torque normally begins to dial back as the wastegate starts to bleed off boost pressure at 3,000 rpm. Overboost extends the peak another 1,500 rpm, squeezing nearly 10% more torque – and attendant acceleration – from 3,000 to 4,500 rpm, Ford says. Fuel cutoff is set at 7,000 rpm.
“With all our EcoBoost vehicles we can control the waste gate, so we can apply (overboost),” Thai-Tang says. “EcoBoost engines will be available on over 90% of our products, so (overboost) will migrate across the vehicle lines all around the world.
“We’ll use the technology as a way to deliver performance as we downsize the engines.”
Curve control also will play a larger role in Ford’s lineup. The technology senses when a driver is taking a curve too quickly and rapidly reduces engine torque. It also can apply 4-wheel braking, slowing the vehicle by up to 10 mph (16 km/h) in about one second.
Ford says the system is effective on dry or wet pavement, and is useful when drivers are entering or exiting freeway ramps with too much speed. When a car enters a curve too fast, the system responds to the driver’s steering input by rapidly reducing torque and increasing brake pressure to help keep the vehicle under control.
Curve control works by measuring how quickly the vehicle is turning and comparing that with how quickly the driver is trying to turn.
When the car is not turning as much as the driver is steering – also known as “pushing” – the system activates, applying the precise amount of braking required on each wheel to enhance the traditional stability-control system.
“By using the electronic curve control, we’re able to use the brakes and get the vehicle to yaw and distribute the torque to the side that can use it,” Thai-Tang says. “That’s another technology we’ll migrate into other production vehicles.”