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Small car, big sound: Ford shoehorns Sony system into 2012 Focus

Tiny cars don’t have to have tinny sound. Not all of them, anyway. The 2012 Ford Focus will be the first small car from the manufacturer to feature a custom-designed, 355-watt sound system from Sony. In a company press release, Ford described the eight-inch screen’s user interface as comparable to Sony home audio systems, and it will work with Ford Sync and MyFord Touch technology. Voice command and steering wheel controls are built in, as well.

One of the most innovative features Sony will bring to the Focus’ sound system is iTunes Tagging. The MyFord touch screen displays a “Tag” icon, which you can press to find iTunes information about a given song. That is then transferred to your iPod when connected to Sync. Once synced to iTunes, your tagged playlist is available and you can browse and purchase the songs you originally tagged. Anyone who has tried in vain to remember the name or lyric to a song you heard the last 10 seconds of can appreciate that.

Naturally, Sony and Ford are also emphasizing the sound quality from the system. Besides the typical HD radio upgrade, Ford claims “FM sounds like a CD and AM sounds like today’s FM broadcasts…digital broadcasts are less susceptible to interference, fadeout and other issues.”

The Ford-Sony relationship is going on 10 years now, and extending its reach to the company’s most popular small car lineup is a smart move. Allowing a new segment of Ford consumers to experience what Sony has to offer is in Ford’s best interest, what with the vehicle being a major source of revenue for the company. Car Magazine reports that chief engineer Jim Hughes recently claimed that, “The Ford Focus represents our best option for profitable growth.”

Although it’s not an electric car, Ford could see some competition from them. Models like the Nissan Leaf are starting to make headway with drivers, but it seems like consumers aren’t quite ready to take the gas-free leap yet and the Focus’s high fuel economy may seem like a comfortable compromise. The 2010 Ford Focus should be available in early 2011.