The Australian-designed Ford Escort has debuted at the Beijing auto show ahead of its impending launch into the Chinese market.
The small- to medium-sized sedan built on Ford’s global C-car platform (shared with the Focus) is the product of a collaboration between Ford’s Australia-based Asia Pacific design team and the car maker’s research and engineering division in Nanjing, China.
The production version is almost identical to the Ford Escort concept that was revealed at last year’s Shanghai auto show. The official unveiling follows recent spy shots that captured Ford Australia engineers fine-tuning the Escort’s drivetrains, suspension and steering on local roads, as well as the car testing in the snow in Sweden. CarAdvice exclusively reported in January that Ford Australia spearheaded the design and engineering of the new compact model.
Ford says the Escort has been designed specifically to meet the needs and preferences of consumers in China, claiming high practicality and generous interior space and storage.
China’s highly lucrative compact car segment accounts for more than 25 per cent of the country’s total market, and is expected to grow to 7.2 million vehicles by 2017 – bigger than the total automotive market in France, Germany and the UK combined.
The Escort will be produced by the Changan Ford joint venture, becoming one of 15 new models the car maker will introduce to China by 2015.
The front-wheel-drive Escort is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and utilises Ford’s electric power assisted steering system.
Six airbags are standard, as is a docking station at the top of the centre stack that allows drivers to integrate their smartphone’s audio and navigation applications into the car’s basic infotainment system.
The Ford Escort won’t be sold in Australia, though has been rumoured to be introduced to other developing markets following its Chinese release.
The Escort is the latest in a growing list of affordable models developed by Ford Australia for emerging markets, following the 2005 Fiesta and 2010 Figo city cars.