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Auto Show:  2011 La Auto Show

Ford Gives a Taste of Focus ST in Advanced Driving Sim


author photo by J. Mark Sternberg November 2011

When the LA Auto Show opens to the public on Friday, Ford fans will be able to burn some rubber behind the wheel of a car that the company hasn't even released yet.

It's possible thanks to a new cutting edge driving simulator that the company has on display this year.

The machine is equipped with seats, three TV screens, a steering wheel and a set of pedals. The whole assembly is mounted on a series of lifts that are controlled by the driver's inputs. The platform rises, falls, tilts and shakes in sync with what is being shown on the screen.

The system was put together by Cruden which has developed driving sims for some of the most premier racing teams in the world, including Formula 1.

"This display is the most realistic simulator we have ever had," said David Tillapaugh who does auto show marketing for Ford.

Company reps say the simulator has been extensively tuned to accurately represent how the Focus ST will drive in real life. After an all too short stint behind the wheel, we can't find any reason to not believe them.

Climb aboard, slink into the sim's Sparco seats and lock down the racing harnesses. After the area has been cleared, the whole assembly will rise into the air as it prepares for the start of the race.

The first few moments are a tad unnerving, but we found ourselves forgetting all of the mechanical trickery and just focusing on just getting a fast time. In the turns the car feels very stable, only giving up a corner if you start asking way too much of the Focus ST's digital tires.

The simulator has seating for three, so two friends can ride along during a drive around the simulated circuit.

The track itself is make-believe, a hodgepodge of famous corners from other tracks around the world. The first two turns are from the Suzuka circuit in Japan, and half way through is a left-right kink on loan from the Spa-Francorchamps track in Belgium.

Ford says it's a great way to give show-goers a taste of the real life Focus ST. "ST is about a refined driving experience. Its not just about acceleration, it's about handling, it's about brakes, it's about feel," Tillapaugh said "That's what this is trying to do, it shows the package together. That way when you see ST at a stoplight, you know it's not just another trim package."

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Ford Gives a Taste of Focus ST in Advanced Driving Sim - Autotrader