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Opinion: ‘Buzz of sports car beats romance’

The bright lights of getting a buzz in the Ford Focus RS research car. Picture: Ford

The bright lights of getting a buzz in the Ford Focus RS research car. Picture: Ford

Ford

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, unromantic motoring editor Andy Russell asks what would give you the biggest buzz – a passionate kiss or driving a sports car?

Driving a sports car daily can give one of the best buzzes. Picture: Ford Driving a sports car daily can give one of the best buzzes. Picture: Ford

It’s Valentine’s Day on Wednesday and the highlight for me will be gettingmy motorcycle serviced ready for warmer weather and sunny summer days.

You might have guessed I’m not the world’s greatest romantic, more like the least, but it’s something my wife and I agree on. Each year, we question if we are “doing Valentine’s” and agree with a unanimous “No”.

Nothing wrong with Valentine’s Day but it’s not our thing, not just after 30 something years of marriage but ever.

I once bought my wife red roses, early in our married life for Valentine’s Day, and she asked what I had done wrong and was apologising for before the date hit home. Husband one, wife nil... and I’ve traded on it ever since!

Only riding a roller coaster surpassed driving a sports car. Picture: Ford Only riding a roller coaster surpassed driving a sports car. Picture: Ford

Should I ever get a Valentine’s Day gift for her again, it’s going to be... a sports car – hope she’s not reading this!

Forget romance, fine dining or an epic boxset binge – new preliminary research from Ford reveals there’s a real buzz about a sports car. Driving one everyday is one of the best ways to boost your sense of wellbeing and emotional fulfilment.

The study measured ‘buzz moments’ – peak thrills that play a vital role in our overall wellness – as volunteers cheered on their favourite football team, watched a gripping Game of Thrones episode, enjoyed a passionate kiss with a loved one or took an intense salsa dancing class. Only the occasional highs of riding a roller coaster ranked higher than the daily buzz of a commute in a sports car.

Working with neuroscientists and designers, Ford brought the research to life with the unique Ford Performance Buzz Car – a customised Focus RS incorporating wearable and artificial intelligence technology to animate the driver’s emotions in real time across the car’s exterior.

Dr Harry Witchel, discipline leader in physiology, said: “A roller coaster may be good for a quick thrill, but it’s not great for getting you to work every day. This study shows how driving a performance car does much more than get you from A to B – it could be a valuable part of your daily wellbeing routine.”

Study participants who sat behind the wheel of a Ford Focus RS, Focus ST or Mustang experienced an average of 2.1 high-intensity buzz moments during a typical commute – compared with an average of three buzz moments on a roller coaster, 1.7 on a shopping trip, 1.5 each while watching Game of Thrones or a football match and a big zero while salsa dancing, fine dining or kissing.

Ford worked with Designworks to create the Buzz Car – from concept, design and installation to software development and programming, it took 1,400 man-hours. Each ‘buzz moment’ experienced by the driver – analysed using a real-time ‘emotional AI’ system developed by empathic technology firm Sensum – produces a dazzling animation across almost 200,000 LED lights integrated into the car.

The Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, is already looking into how vehicles can better understand and respond to drivers’ emotions. Researchers are investigating how in-car systems may one day be aware of our emotions – as well as levels of stress, distraction and fatigue – providing prompts and warnings, and could even take control of the car in emergency situations.

That reminds me of my wife – and they say romance is dead!

Do you get a buzz out of driving a sports car? If not, what’s your thrill? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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