The 2017 Frankfurt motor show has ended. Ford showed Kugas, Kas, Fiestas, Foci and Mustangs. Ten years ago, things looked not much different, now I come to think of it.
Chief among the novelties in 2007, Ford showed off a markedly re-styled Focus with virtually every panel changed. The show previewed the Kuga, their first cross-over “designed and developed in-house”, they said, which distinguished it from the bought-in Maverick. The Mondeo gained a 2.3 litre engine and a six-speed automatic was made available for that car, the S-Max and the Galaxy.
At the very back of the bottom of the list, Ford announced something they called the “Ford Individual” treatment to be rolled out (in management speak) Europe-wide. How many people felt compelled to buy one is anyone’s guess. Maybe they sold five ex-demo cars.
The revised Focus amounted to Ford admitting customers didn’t really get the austere style of the first phase of the Focus. That car had an agenda as clear as the Mk1, even if very different. The Phase 2 Focus showed Ford returning to its habit of purveying contemporary vernacular
design even if it was touted as “Kinetic design”. Nodding to an emerging trend, the front end got a two- level grille. On the top part a chrome bar garnished the leading edge of the bonnet while the lower, and less functional grille got a full-frame. Two for the price of one. With hindsight, it looks even more like two designs where there ought to have been one only.
Ford’s designers also played with the lamps, making them a) look similar to the Mondeo and b) reducing the relationship of the lampey part to the silhouette. This allowed the space for a shiny reflective area under the poly cover which did very little other than fill a void. In general terms, the last decade of car design has been about seeing how far the graphics can be stretched away from the underlying parts they are supposed to demarcate.
Is it really a decade since the Kuga appeared? It didn’t break new ground then yet oddly looks exactly as stale now as it did in 2007 which is not what you’d expect. Starting with the lamps, the shiny non-functional stuff predominated and the black plastic apparent on the Focus had no home. It was all shiny plastic and reflectors. A small pair of air-intake-a-like apertures underlined the lamps, somewhat.
Small vents sat somewhat oddly slightly under and ahead of the huge side mirrors which could very easily have sat on the mirror-sale panel, now vacant. As evidence of the platform shared with the C-Max and Focus, the all-new Kuga had a not all-new dashboard, dating from 2004. The car-show publicity images showed a black cloth and suede interior with orange piping that assuredly nobody bought.
I will skip past the 2.3 litre engine – how lavish that seems today – and move directly to the “Ford Individual” treatment. The Ford Mondeo could be had with an orange-trimmed interior, with grey details. With the right
exterior colour (orange, perhaps, or dark green) this might be seen as presaging the Vignale line. And the question is, was this deemed so unsuccessful it had to be tried again on a more elaborate basis or was it successful enough to justify developing? A quick look at the car sales
listings show 1 example on sale and it doesn’t have the orange dash. It’s €15,000, by the way. It seems to me that Ford might have been better to have three less strident interior colour schemes instead of the monochrome and extreme ones they went with. The S-Max is
comprehensible: orange piping and inserts. The Galaxy, at least in the photos, seems to be as individual as the nearly dead Ghia-type interiors that were ordinarily available. While the Galaxy is, admittedly, devoid of sporting aspirations, perhaps a green and beige colourway might have been more interesting. The fact that the hard trim had to be grey ruled that out, from a colour-coordination perspective.
The press pack featured nobody called Chris Bird.