With 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, there’s little doubt that Ford’s upcoming Focus ST hot hatch will be fast. That’s not enough for Ford’s engineers, who have gone to some extraordinary lengths to ensure that the Focus ST sounds fast, too.
Ford is equipping the Focus ST with what it calls an “active sound symposer,” meant to transmit just the right engine sounds into the cockpit, under just the right conditions. Don’t think of this as a low-buck sound-tube, as used on the Ford Mustang, certain Volkswagen GTI models and the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe, either.
The problem with sound tubes is that they can transmit too much droning noise at highway speeds, since they’re generally not very sophisticated. The sound symposer used on the Focus ST, on the other hand, uses valving and a composite “paddle” to amplify and transmit the desired sounds only at the desired ranges.
Mat the accelerator in lower gears, and you hear the roar of the EcoBoost four as it builds speed. At a steady cruise with partial throttle, the amplified engine sound is muted to create a quieter cabin, reducing driver fatigue.
Christopher Myers, air induction system engineer for the Focus ST, says of the system, “we went further and engineered the symposer both to dial up the nice sounds the EcoBoost delivers under the hood but dial back the interior sound volumes at part throttle. The symposer helps us bring the throaty sounds that drivers love.”
While we’ll admit to being a bit impatient about the Focus ST’s delayed launch, the sound symposer has us wondering. If Ford paid this much attention to how the car sounds, just imagine how much effort it put into how the Focus ST goes.