First spy pics of next-generation small SUV, first showcased as a concept car at Detroit motor show

These are the first spy pics of the all-new Ford Kuga, a car first previewed as a concept at the Detroit motor show in January.

Dubbed Vertrek, the new car is based on the Focus platform and is designed to show how Ford’s small SUV could become another ‘global’ model.

See the pics of the Vertrek concept, plus new spy pics of the Kuga

It's likely to be sold in Europe as the Kuga, but would become the Escape in North America and the Territory in Australia (although Ford is said to be considering dropping the latter name in favour of the European badge).

The company claims the Vertrek combines “European kinetic design and driving quality” with “cargo space, trailer-tow and off-road capability for North America”. It has not revealed any dimensions for the car, although the increased overhangs beyond the Focus platform would indicate it is larger than the current Kuga.

The concept has an Audi Q7-like profile, particularly at the nose. Ford claims its styling is around five per cent more aerodynamically efficient than that of the current Kuga.

Read about Ford's other Detroit star, the Focus Electric

The Vertrek has a dramatic combination of sheet metal and glass in its roof, but this is almost certain to give way to a more conventional panoramic glass roof on the production model. Other exterior details include a carbonfibre rear diffuser and camera-based side mirrors.

“The Vertrek is inspired by contemporary compact sport utility customers,” said J Mays, Ford’s vice-president of design and its chief creative officer. “It unites stylish design, world-class craftsmanship and outstanding capability to present a fresh vision we believe will resonate globally.”

The cabin has a large central ‘floating tunnel’, underlit to brighten the rear area, and a fascia that builds on the current Fiesta and latest Focus. Dashboard architecture is thought to be close to that planned for production.

Read the Autocar road test of the current Ford Kuga

The concept is powered by a 1.6-litre Ecoboost engine with stop-start technology. Ford claims this combination could deliver “class-leading economy”, and is keen to push the motor’s efficiency in the petrol-focused US. The most popular choice for Europe would still be a 2.0-litre turbodiesel, though; 96 per cent of Kugas sold are diesels.

The production Kuga could be at the Frankfurt motor show this autumn, and on sale in early 2012. Ford is also planning a baby brother for the car: a crossover based on the Fiesta platform.

John McIlroy

See all the latest Ford Kuga reviews, news and video

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