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 size?
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 it.
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.