Ford's plans to streamline its compact SUV models in concert with the One Ford strategy are beginning to coalesce. About four months ago the company unveiled its Vertrek concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but there was some confusion as to whether this vehicle would replace the European Kuga as well as the Escape sold here.
It's now clear that a new production model SUV based on the Vertrek will succeed both Ford's Escape and Kuga models. Our master spy photographers at Carparazzi have snapped pics of pre-production cars undergoing testing and, according to Carparazzi, the C250, as it is codenamed, will be marketed as the Ford Escape when it goes on sale globally, either at the end of this year or during the first quarter of next year.
In style, the new SUV will follow the general looks of the Vertrek, but Carparazzi advises that the new vehicle won't be far removed in size from the current Escape.
Boxy camouflage at the rear conceals the shallow rake of the D pillars and tailgate for the new vehicle. Tail lights are an angular design, according to Carparazzi. Apparently too, the frontal styling incorporates cues from both the Vertrek and the US market Ford Edge.
The bonnet seems quite high and lends the car a VW Tiguan air. In addition to meeting aerodynamic targets, the frontal styling is undoubtedly aimed at improving on the Kuga's already admirable three-star pedestrian rating -- as determined by Euro NCAP. New pedestrian safety regs in Europe are scheduled for implementation in 2013 and the C250 will be developed with those in mind.
This particular vehicle is believed to be a high-spec 'Sport' or 'Titanium' variant and was riding on alloy wheels wrapped in 235/50 R18 Continental ProContact tyres. Carparazzi has also spotted other pre-production vehicles getting around on steel wheels with lesser tyres.
It's anticipated that the new vehicle, which is based on the C1 platform that also underpins the third-gen Focus, will launch globally from very late this year or during the first quarter of 2012.
Rumours that have reached Carparazzi's ears suggest that the new SUV will do away with V6 engines and rely instead on a 2.5-litre four, with an EcoBoost alternative for high-end models. At this stage it's unknown whether the forced-induction and direct-injection engine chosen for this application will displace 2.0 litres or 1.6. In line with Ford's commitment to hybrid-drive technology, there will be a petrol/electric model available not long after the vehicle is launched.
There's little word as yet concerning how the new SUV will be handled when it arrives in Australia. It will replace a car that has been on sale for a long time and is well overdue for replacement, but precisely when the new model will arrive here remains uncertain. The Carsales Network contacted Ford Australia's Product Communications Manager for SUVs and LCVs, Peter Fadeyev for further comment. In response, he said that the name for the new SUV was "yet to be determined" and "timing of its arrival in Australia is currently unknown".
"The usual process of developing the production car is well under way, but we're some way off from knowing when the car will be launched in Australia."
"Obviously the North American and European markets will be keen to secure that model first."
Thanks to: Car Point