The Ford Escort nameplate is back – as a new concept car partly styled by Ford Australia designers and set to become a key model for the US car maker in the world’s biggest car market.
Ford has unveiled the Escort sedan concept at the 2013 Shanghai motor show, previewing a four-door small car that looks near production ready and a strong contender to be one of the company’s 15 new vehicles to go on sale in China by 2015.
The Ford Escort concept revives a once-popular name that hasn’t been seen in Australia for decades, and one that was killed off by Ford of Europe when it introduced the Focus in 1998.
If confirmed for production, the Ford Escort will join the Focus in the Chinese market to target a slice of the 5.5 million small cars sold there that account for a quarter of the market.
China has been an exception to Ford’s One Ford strategy of building a single model per vehicle segment, with the Escort designed to appeal to the different tastes of the world’s most populous nation.
“By listening to our customers in China, we have developed the Ford Escort Concept to serve a new class of compact car customers,” said Ford’s executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “These are customers whose needs are not being completely met by existing compact cars. They are discerning, modern families, who want uncompromised functionality, quality and safety for themselves and the ones they care about.”
Ford Australia’s design and engineering teams continue to kept busy by projects around the world, including China. The company told CarAdvice the Escort concept was “a global design with input from the company’s design team in Melbourne”.
The styling of the Escort is said to respond to market research that revealed Chinese customers sought “a vehicle that is stylish – but not one that is arrogant or pretentious”.
The tautly designed Ford Escort concept still carries plenty of cues – including a front end with hexagonal grille – that is clearly related to the next-generation Mondeo that showcases the company’s modern styling DNA.
There are also fancy LED exterior lights and a pillarless side window treatment.