12 January 2005

Ford’s Fiesta supermini has acquired some serious attitude, forming the basis for this concept car revealed at the Detroit Motor Show. The Synus would become Ford’s smallest model on sale in America if it made production, a decision Ford bosses will consider after assessing public reaction in Detroit.

Although there are numerous concept car-only features such as a 42-inch LCD screen, internet access, bulletproof glass and a combination lock on the driver’s door, Ford is testing the water ahead of plans to launch the smallest model in its US range. With growing urban populations, Ford says the US will soon be ready for smaller city cars.

Unveiled at the Detroit show, the ‘urban tough’ exterior has been inspired by bank vaults and armoured cars, and there are strong hints of the American-market Honda Element in the square profile and the vehicle’s size.

The small windows on the flanks and roof are bulletproof and when the car is parked in secure mode, it deploys protective shutters over the windscreen and side windows. Entry is achieved via a dial mounted on the driver’s side B-pillar, while the rear hatch is opened by a vault-style four-spoke wheel.

The cabin has been designed to provide accommodation for four, with features such as a steering wheel that folds away beneath the dashboard to create more room. The front seat bases rotate to allow the occupants to face each other, and the rear bench seat can fold flat to accommodate luggage or to afford a better view of the 42-inch LCD screen that fills the rear doorframe.

This screen can be used for surfing the web, watching films or – via externally mounted cameras – to display the area around the rear of the vehicle. When the Synus is in motion, the screen doubles up as a rear window.

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The MacPherson strut front/semi-independent rear suspension set-up is borrowed straight from the Fiesta, although the Synus’s track is wider and the concept wears 18in alloy wheels with 225/50 tyres. Power comes from Ford’s 2.0-litre Duratorq diesel engine, which develops 134bhp and 236lb ft of torque.

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