I was one of the victims of the ash cloud and so ended up with a cancelled flight instead of a trip to today’s Beijing motor show.

A shame because I would have loved to see the Ford Start concept in the metal.

Full details and pictures of the Ford StartBut just from the pics it looks terrific. The most original design since the first Ka appeared in 1996 in my opinion. And the cabin looks like a big step forward for small Fords.

But just how significant is it? Well the three-cylinder ecoboost turbo engine is real enough. That will appear in the Fiesta from the middle of next year and it will be a mainstay in the next Focus too, replacing the 1.6-litre petrol. Interesting that the best selling Focus could be powered by a 3cyl turbo, isn’t it?

The notion of a global city car must be on the minds of Ford bosses too. Alan Mulally’s One Ford strategy hasn’t flitered down to so-called B-segment cars yet but it has to soon.

Especially when the all analysts predict that this is one of the biggest growth sectors in the coming years – not just in Europe, but in markets like India, China and South America. Maybe even the USA will start buying them (and you can imagine the Start as a baby Lincoln.)

At the moment, of course, Ford is making the Ka using a Fiat 500 platform in a Fiat factory and that can’t last beyond the lifetime of this car.

So a ‘global baby Ford’ must be just around the corner. This looks like an excellent Start in every sense.

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