Ford's new MyKey system, which enables drivers to limit the top speed of selected vehicles using a programmable key, is a "first step in the right direction" when it comes to driver safety limitations, the company says.
The MyKey technology is a programmable smart key that enables owners of compatible vehicles to limit the top speed, prevent stability control from being turned off, and disable the entertainment unit unless the driver's seat belt is fastened.
The MyKey system also enables a fixed speed warning alert at 70 kilometres per hour (km/h), 90km/h and 140km/h speeds.
Speaking at the lifestyle and tech media launch of its new Fiesta ST hot hatch, the first car in Australia to come with the MyKey feature, Ford's James Stewart says the system is the first of its kind Down Under.
"There's nothing similar that I'm aware of, everything I've looked at there's been bits of it where they've looked at limiting, but nothing like this".
"There's cars that have been designed so you can't turn stability control off, though there's codes you have to know to go through, like three pumps of the brake pedal, or three handbrakes, for example. But there's nothing that's evolved like the MyKey system that limits speed."
Stewart said the debut of MyKey in Australia should prevent consumer backlash, easing the feature in at a default speed limit setting of 140km/h.
"The big part is setting the speed limit to 140km/h to start off, it's an ease into it. I think there would be a backlash of some people saying 'oh I'm not going to get that car if it's only going to limit me to 100km/h".
"You can set the limit to 140km/h or 160km/h because it's European based, so autobahns and things like that come into it. It's the first step in the right direction."
"You've also got the warning chimes at 70, 90 and 100 from there, and that's basically a big part of the system too."
Ford Australia's brand communications associate, Martin Gunsberg, said while the MyKey technology is currently only available on the Fiesta ST, it will soon make its way to other Ford vehicles in the future.
"It's a really great technology and you'll see it coming out to other Fords in the near future."
"You can limit the top speed of the vehicle, very importantly you can prevent the stability program from being turned off. If you're the owner of that car and you are going to lend it to a friend, or perhaps to a younger driver, you would certainly want to make sure that they're not switching that on and off."
In addition to the speed limiting and stability control features, the MyKey system on the Fiesta ST can log kilometres.
"It [MyKey] also logs the kilometres, so if you lend the car to a friend who's just supposed to take it down the road, you can actually go in and have a look at how many kilometres it's travelled."
The Fiesta ST also includes an Emergency Assistance system that will automatically call 000 if you're involved in an accident, as long as a Bluetooth mobile phone is connected to the SYNC audio system.
The Fiesta ST hatchback is powered by a 1.6 litre EcoBoost engine that produces 134kW of power and 290Nm of torque.
Other features include 17in alloy wheels, push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, daytime running LEDs, Recaro sports seats and what Ford describes as a "trapezoidal" front grill that's borrowed from the larger Focus ST.
The Fiesta ST is available now in Australia and is priced at $25,990, plus on-road costs.