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Detroit 2011: Ford Vertrek concept
At the Detroit show Ford is trying the difficult trick of
building a common mid-size crossover that will reconcile tastes of American and
European drivers. Meanwhile VW is doing exactly the opposite, by admitting it’s
been a losing battle to do the same with a saloon.
So Ford showed the Vertrek concept which will produce a
single car to replace both the Kuga and the very different American Ford
Escape. And an hour later VW launched the US-made Passat, which is entirely
different from our one.
The US-market Escape is a boxy old crossover that sells big
but is boring and cheap-feeling. Our Kuga is more stylish and far better to
drive, but quite a bit smaller than the Vertrek. Replacing them with one car is a risk. Will the
Americans pay more than they do for a more premium car, and will the new style
frighten them? And will British and European Kuga buyers be willing to go up a
Ford is betting they will in both cases. Apparently Kuga
owners moan that the boot isn’t big enough, and the Vertrek has a definitely
more ample rump. And in the US, Ford has Found people will pay more if it gives
them a better car. F’rinstance, small Fords were pretty cheap and hopeless, but
now the fine new Fiesta is here, people are prepared to stump big dollar for
The Vertrek is a concept but it’s very close to the real
thing if you can ignore the show-car lights, wheels, mirrors and exhaust tips.
And the lack of door handles - they’ll find some of them in time.
Sadly the interior won’t make production. The seats are
wrapped in the leather from Lederhosen, and the floor’s woven leather too.
There will be a three-body rear bench in production, obv, rather than the
concept’s two chairs.
As the front-end style implies, the Vertrek is based on the
new Focus platform, though its wheelbase is longer than the hatchback. In
Europe we’ll get the excellent 1.6-litre turbo EcoBoost petrol engine and the
TDCI diesels up to 163bhp. FWD and 4WD will be available.