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Performance and fuel efficiency used to be at opposite ends of the scale – it was either or, and you couldn’t have your cake and eat it. That was then, Ford’s Ecoboost is now.

Part of the engine downsizing trend, Ford’s EcoBoost engine technology combines turbocharging and direct gasoline injection to deliver up to 20% improvement in fuel economy and 15% less CO2 emissions without sacrificing the power drivers want, with driving performance compared to larger displacement engines. As Malaysia’s road tax is based on engine capacity, there’s added savings there, too.

Recently, Ford’s ultra-fuel efficient and spirited 1.0L EcoBoost engine was named the 2013 International Engine of the Year, one of the most prestigious global awards in the auto industry. This win marks the second straight year that Ford’s acclaimed three-cylinder engine has captured the coveted crown.

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In fact, not only did the 1.0L EcoBoost engine achieve the highest score in the awards’ 15-year history, the 2013 win also represents only the third time that a manufacturer has been given the title back-to-back. Additionally, the 1.0L EcoBoost retained its “Best Engine Under 1.0-litre” title, a pre-requisite to being shortlisted for the overall award.

The Ford 1.0-litre EcoBoost has also won the International Paul Pietsch Award 2013 for technological innovation at German magazine Auto Motor und Sport’s Best Cars Awards, the Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club in Great Britain, and a Breakthrough Award from American magazine Popular Mechanics.

The good news for Malaysians is that this award-winning powerplant will be coming to our shores next year, powering the facelifted Ford Fiesta that was launched last month with a 1.5L engine. Ecoboost engines also power the Ford Mondeo, S-Max MPV, Kuga SUV and Focus ST hot hatch in Malaysia.

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Many feel the need to stay connected in today’s fast-paced urban lifestyle, even when driving, but fiddling with your smartphone while on the wheel is a dangerous thing to do.

Ford’s in-vehicle connectivity solution to this scenario is called Ford SYNC. Developed with Microsoft, SYNC is an advanced software platform that allows consumers to operate digital media players and Bluetooth-enabled phones in the car via voice command. In Malaysia, SYNC is available in the new Ford Fiesta, Kuga and third-gen Focus.

SYNC includes many of the same features offered on mobile phones – caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, caller log, contact list and more – all conveniently located on the radio’s display screen. When paired with a Bluetooth-capable phone, SYNC can convert text messages and read them aloud. Drivers can choose to reply from any of 20 predefined responses.

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In addition, SYNC offers voice-activated, hands-free calling – keeping the driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Simply by pressing the “Push to Talk” button on the steering wheel and saying the name of the contact, SYNC will automatically connect with the names in the paired phone’s contact list. The voice recognition tech also allows users to browse their music collection on a connected digital music player, mobile phone or USB drive by genre, album, artist or song title, all via voice commands.

Ford estimates that by 2015, there will be more than 14 million vehicles worldwide equipped with SYNC, but the journey doesn’t stop there. Last month, Ford announced plans to acquire Livio, a Michigan-based software development startup that builds products and software tools to support smartphone and car connectivity.

In August, the carmaker announced the beginning of a three-year research project with St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia to analyse space-based robotic communications systems to aid in mobility solutions for vehicles, with the aim of reducing traffic accidents and ease congestion by enabling vehicles to communicate with each other, as well as with infrastructure such as traffic lights and buildings.

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Another smart and safe feature is the Ford-exclusive Curve Control technology. Launched in 2011, this pioneering tech is designed to help drivers maintain control of their vehicle when taking a curve too quickly. When Curve Control senses such a situation, it applies four-wheel braking to reduce vehicle speed by up to 16 km/h in approximately one second, giving the drive a better chance to stay on track and in control. Curve Control comes standard with the Ford Kuga in Malaysia.

From connectivity solutions and safety tech to powerful yet fuel-efficient engines, Ford is continuously reaching for new ideas and new ways to go further with game-changing technologies.

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