Set to make its debut at the 2010 Beijing Motor Show, the new Ford Start Concept is an exercise in next-gen personal transport intended to attract the eye and heart of young, urban dwellers who want more than just point-to-point utility in an increasingly crowded and congested environment. In presenting the vehicle, Freeman Thomas, design director, Ford Motor Company stressed: "Our ambition with the Ford Start Concept was to design a car that goes beyond the practical realities of commuting in these mega cities, to go beyond just dressing the technology. We wanted to design a car you would also love." But in addition to its unique take on people-pleasing styling and creature features, the Ford Start Concept also introduces a new strain of EcoBoost powertrain. Based on a three-cylinder engine, it's virtually certain to see duty in a production model(s) within the next couple of years.
A Package with Personality
Penned in Irvine, California by an international team working out of Ford's Strategic Concepts Group Studios, the Start Concept coupe wraps its strong and rigid aluminum/steel hybrid central structure in lightweight snap-on body panels made from deformable, color-impregnated and recyclable composite materials. The Start's sleek face incorporates a stylized version of Ford's signature kinetic trapezoidal grille flanked by ultra-slim laser-cut LED headlamps and two sets of running lamps rendered in a similar style. Out back, the wraparound taillamps reflect the same long-n-lean look. Every exterior element has been flush-mounted or smoothly integrated to enhance aero efficiency and reduce wind noise.
Inside, the Ford Start Concept offers room for four in a cabin trimmed in black leather with red highlights and matte metallic accents. In addition to cleanly rendered main instruments and a three-spoke multifunction sport steering wheel, the Start Concept boasts MyFord Mobile technology complete with a six-inch full color display screen and the recently announced AppLink capability. Because in-car connectivity will be crucial to the urborunners of tomorrow, the Smart Concept is equipped with a smartphone docking station that can access phone contacts and navigation tools as well as messaging, direction and communication features via voice commands when the car is in motion -- although it does prevent texting while driving. When the vehicle is parked, both the vehicle functions and icons from the user's device are available via the MyFord Mobile Concept system.
EcoBoosting to the Power of Three
Style and functionality aside, the most critical element in the Ford Start Concept is arguably what lies under its hood. A new 1.0-liter/three-cylinder gasoline engine fitted with Ford's EcoBoost turbocharging/direct-injection system promises to deliver the power, torque and overall performance of a larger, normally-aspirated four-cylinder but with better fuel efficiency -- and do so while emitting less than 100 grams/kilometer of CO2. In this application, the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine is linked to a six-speed manual transmission. Ford characterized this new combo as "something very real and close to being reality." Just how proximate remains to be seen, but a 2012-2013 time window seems pretty likely. As a final ingredient in its enticing recipe, the Ford Start Concept is underpinned by a suspension tuned take full advantage of the performance potential that lies within this latest variation on the EcoBoost theme.