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by Tim Beissmann

Ford Motor Co. has unveiled the Ford Vertrek compact SUV concept at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, revealing a further evolution of the brand’s global kinetic design language.

Inspired by the Ford Kuga sold throughout Europe as well as the new Fiesta and Focus models, the Vertrek gives an insight into the global compact SUV that will replace both the Kuga and the Escape.

Key exterior features of the new design language include the familiar three-piece, lower trapezoidal grille; slimmer headlights and taillights; and a more muscular bonnet with an FPV-style bulge.

The roofline is ‘faster’ and drops away towards the rear for improved aerodynamics and a sleeker overall presence, while the beltline and wheel arches are bold and give the vehicle’s profile a sharp, solid appearance.

Ford announced the production vehicle based on the Vertrek concept would be powered by the brand’s new 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder EcoBoost engine and would feature Auto Start-Stop technology and regenerative braking to improve efficiency.

A 2.0-litre Duratorq TDCi will also be available, and will be paired with a six-speed transmission. The inclusion of a powerful yet highly efficient diesel in the range will be crucial for Ford, with 96 percent of the current generation Kugas sold with a diesel engine in Europe.

Ford says the Vertrek combines European styling and driving quality with the key North American qualities of high cargo capacity, towing ability and off-road capability to produce what it believes is a vehicle that meets the needs of compact SUV customers around the world.

Ford Motor Co. global marketing, sales and service vice president, Jim Farley, said the Vertrek concept would allow Ford to fine-tune its upcoming global compact SUV.

“Customer demands are converging globally toward a compact sport utility vehicle that is stylish and great fun to drive while at the same time providing the package, capability, engaging technology and fuel economy they expect,” said Mr Farley.

“The Ford Vertrek concept will allow us to hear directly from these customers about trade-offs they are prepared to make as we look to deliver a future production model that brings to life all these attributes.”

The panoramic roof is likely to remain a concept-only feature, along with the sleek chrome side mirrors and lower LED strip at the rear.

The interior includes its own ‘never-gonna-happen’ concept features like the seats and materials, but also has some components that seem almost too tame, especially the small central screen high on the dashboard.

The new vehicle will go on sale in North America and Europe by 2013, with other markets, expected to include Australia, to follow later.




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