Torque Vectoring Control sounds like something out of Iron Man or the Star Trek series. In this case it actually refers to a new system on the 2012 Ford Focus that simulates a limited slip differential. It is also a safety feature that many parents—and adults—will be happy to have on-board. From our recent first drive experience in the hills of southern California we can attest that it works, but is it a good thing? Is Torque Vectoring Control magic or just another illusion?
Here is what you need to know: Torque Vectoring Control uses the braking system to apply slight braking force to one side to increase stability while cornering. You might have seen our article about this corner-carving technology back in December. Ford believes that this class-exclusive feature will serve as a confidence-builder for novice drivers. They also believe it will “please” driving enthusiasts who are looking for the feel and grip of a limited-slip differential. It sounded good on paper, but we wanted to experience this one in person and experience it we did.
When it comes to car control technologies, I am always on the fence. It is a man versus machine proposition. In this case, the 2012 Ford Focus is a nice balance of machine/electronic intervention and driver control. Torque Vectoring Control is noticeable when it is working and when paired with the traction control the Focus will rein you in pretty quickly if you get over exuberant. What I like about the system is that you can use it to your advantage if you pay attention—back to the whole simulated limited slip. For a driver it becomes a tool to have more fun and for the average or novice driver it becomes a safety feature that they can’t turn off and may not even know is there. Yes, your read right—you can’t turn it off. Traction control, if you can find it in the center menu between the gauges, can be turned off, but not Torque Vectoring Control. Why? For the majority it is something that helps keep you and your family safe, so why turn it off. For the racing enthusiast Ford believes it will actually make them faster. Win, Win.
“This is a technology that has been offered on high-end sports cars, yet Ford is making it standard on their new small car.” Said Rick Bolt, program manager for the Ford Focus. This makes the point that seems to echo through everything we have experienced with the 2012 Ford Focus, bringing technology to the common man. Henry Ford would be proud and after spend 120 miles behind the wheel we have to say that we wouldn’t be surprised if this car makes this years Car and Driver 10Best.
Bottom line—this feature is no illusion; it helps keep drivers safe and lets you have more fun all at the same time.