The new Ford Focus is equipped with advanced driver-assistance functions (Photo: Ford)

Touting a new version of its Sync connectivity system, Ford unveiled a new Focus model at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona last week.

The carmaker also introduced a range of new driver-assistance features, showing clearly that high-tech functions are part of the competitive landscape  in both the premium and the volume segments.

Next to the familiar active park assist function, Ford is now offering park-out assist, a hands-free option to steer the car out of a tight parking spot. Similarly, the carmaker unveiled an expansion of its blind spot detection system, which now also recognizes approaching cross traffic.

Other new features include active city stop, which reduces engine power and applies the brakes when approaching a vehicle ahead too quickly. And the new Focus uses different colors on an in-car display to indicate whether the distance to the car in front is sufficient for safe driving.

Ford's new Sync connectivity system has a high-resolution color touch screen, enhanced voice recognition and a navigation system that provides more detailed map information and views.

Separately, Ford showed a Ford Fusion based connected research vehicle that demonstrates the driver-assistance features of tomorrow's cars. Ford stressed the research vehicle is not an autonomous car. "This vehicle is capable of automated operation under the supervision of a human driver," said Pim van der Jagt, managing director, for Research and Advanced Engineering for Europe."

Van der Jagt said Ford sees new technologies as key to reducing accidents. Said the research boss: "The focus today of our automated technology is simply to significantly reduce human error in driving."