The valve-popping wail of a turbocharged 252-hp inline four may not be for everyone. But thanks to a new tech in the 2013 Ford Focus ST, Ford hopes drivers will be able to have a quiet, practical car and a fire-breathing demon all at once.
Dubbed Sound Symposer, the system is designed to amplify engine growl once the driving inputs get more aggressive. While the BMW system plays simulated engine noises through the stereo to beef up the sonic experience, Ford's is more organic. Under normal driving, the vehicle's soundproofing reduces everything to a dull hum so the Focus isn't roaring like a lion during your morning commute. But push the car hard and a valve opens on a pipe connecting the engine bay to the cabin, channeling the sound directly from the induction manifold to the dashboard. The system is customizable, so drivers can modify when the system kicks in, or fun-haters can turn it off altogether.
Amplifying the Focus ST's turbo engine at speed makes sense. Hot hatches are supposed to be functional and comfortable on runs to the grocery store, but shouty, loud, and nimble on the track. The extra noise might provide a little more incentive for drivers to get slightly indiscriminate with the throttle inputs once in awhile. It remains to be seen whether amplifying the real engine's growl—rather than piping noise through the speakers—allows the Focus to escape the scorn of critics (like ) who blasted the BMW system for inauthenticity.