Before the Ford Evos concept was unveiled at Frankfurt, I attended the press event in Berlin. It was particularly useful because, unlike in the Frankfurt scrum, it was possible to pin down Ford’s design bosses on a one-to-one basis.
If you can ignore the impressive gullwing arrangement and the coupe layout, much of what’s left is Ford’s new Mondeo. The real thing will be unveiled at the Detroit show next January, where this car replaces the Mazda 6-based Ford Fusion on the US market.
Although the Evos is identifiably a development of the current Ford design language, it has also flipped some ideas through 180 degrees. Gone are the huge headlamps of Ford’s current models, (described in Berlin by Ford design global boss J Mays as being of ‘absurd proportions’) replaced by super-slim ‘laser cut’ lamps.
Much of the swooping surfaces on the side of the car, including the ‘light catch’ along the bottom of the door and the hump over the rear wheel, will make it onto the Mk4 Mondeo.
‘The market is littered with manufacturers of the mainstream, but the mainstream customer is visually premium’ Mays explained, also promising a ‘strong technical interior’.
‘Visually premium’ customers are those of us exposed to top-level product design such as that pioneered by Apple and now the minimum requirement for the world of digital media.
I suggest to Mays that Ford was guilty of chopping and changing its design language every few years. Ford was very influenced by the restrained ‘bauhaus’ design seen on the Audi TT and then on mainstream products such as the 1997 Passat and Audi A6. What he calls a ‘teutonic phase’ – which sired the Focus 2 and previous Fiesta – was ‘too rational.’
Kinetic design – which created the current Fiesta and Focus – was, he says, intended to reflect the much-admired dynamic abilities of Ford’s cars. However, Mays clearly feels that the current Focus probably goes a little too far. ‘Premium design doesn’t need to scream’ he told the assembled hacks.
The upshot seems to be that Ford’s new global design DNA is trying to carve a neat line between the quality signals given off by classic ‘teutonic’ styling and the desire to incorporate fluid, sensuous, surfaces. It’s interesting to see how, by contrast, Peugeot’s new 508 is going for the full Teutonic look to try and signal long-term quality. But then the French car isn’t designed to sell globally and has probably got more to prove.
Incidentally, while at the unveil, an amusing thought struck me. The name Mondeo was created from the Latin ‘Mundus’ which roughly means ‘world’. This is because the first, 1993, Mondeo was also intended to be a global vehicle. So calling this car a ‘global Mondeo’ is a bit like calling it a ‘global world’ car.