Could the new Ford Edge be the car that reverses a decades'-old trend? For years now, the volume car-makers have been pushed downmarket by the vanity-badge appeal of the German premium three. And of course, by the generally high calibre of the cars that Audi, BMW and Mercedes sell.
Now if you’d walked into the head office car park of any medium-to-big business in the UK 25 years ago, the cars you’d have seen occupying the slots for the managing director, sales and marketing boss and finance director would likely have been Ford Granada Scorpios, Rover 800s, Vauxhall Carltons and the occasional BMW.
And as we all know, the route of the executive car market shifted down another segment, the BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-class and Audi A4 ending the dominance Ford and Vauxhall once enjoyed with Cortinas, Sierras, Cavaliers and Vectras. If you want people to know that you’re doing decently well in life while marooned on the M25, then it’s a 3-series you need and not a Mondeo.
But when Ford launched the S-Max a few years back, it uncovered a surprise chink in the premium brand’s armour. The S-Max offered something a little different, with its rakishly handsome MPV style, and proved a fine demonstrator of the fact that Fords have changed – considerably – since the days of the Scorpio.
They’re better made, drive well and are tastefully furnished. So much so, that 70 per cent of S-Max buyers spend a little bit more on the furnishings of their cars, and buy the high-end Titanium trim. And the £26,000-£31,000 that a Titanium S-Max costs propels it well into the premium heartland.
Which is one reason why Ford is feeling quietly bullish about its prospects for the new Edge, which it uncertainly calls a ‘crossover SUV’. There’s nothing uncertain about the Edge itself however, whose bold grille should certainly appeal to the drivers of bold SUVs.
Its neat styling is well proportioned, its interior elegant and well arranged and it has some intriguing equipment, not least its noise-cancelling hardware, the variable rate steering, sophisticated self-parking functions and a couple of forward-mounted cameras to prevent you running over the cat.
Most important of all, though, is that it will cost decisively less than its premium competition and with no product competence penalty – other than for those bothered by the Blue Oval badge.
But assuming it drives well, I suspect that many will find themselves able to look past that and see the value. And we may once again see a few Fords parked in the most coveted head-office bays.