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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Art and Design: Frankfurt 2007 -- Ford Gets Small

Ford of Europe has been on a design roll of late -- too bad most of these aren't slated for North America. The Ford Kuga is a "near" -production small crossover -- a hot market in Europe. There will probably be some small tweaks here and there before it actually starts rolling out of the factory. Lets hope they don't change too much as the cringeworthy name is the worst thing going for them.

The Kuga has a nearly perfect front end, everything from the shape of the headlights to the integrated small air intakes to the upper and lower grille shapes are well thought-out and detailed. The overall form shapes are perfectly rendered from the shapely wheel openings to the flowing line that extends from above the headlamps to define a front fender, meeting the shoulderline which runs into the taillamps. The roof and greenhouse are a bit BMW-like but are very well proportioned.

Though the lines around the back glass and side quarter windows are aesthetically pleasing, they are bound to create large blindspots for the driver. From the rear the sculpting of the rear hatch and integration of the bumper into the dropped shoulder line can be admired.

Ford is also showing another vehicle which will lead to a related production version -- though in this case the resemblance may be more thematic. Ford's Verve concept is meant to give hints for the shape of their next small Fiesta:

The surfacing is top-notch, particularly the expressive wheel arches and side sculpting. The side glass profile is perfectly echoed in the back glass sweep and the high mounted taillamps avoid cliche. In all likelihood the pillarless sideglass would be the first thing to be modified for production due to cost.

The front view is even more dramatic, with radically tapered headlamps, a tiny mustache like center grille and a large hungry crate-style grille below. The transition of the tapering body line into the front bumper is especially well handled, as is the sweep of the radical rear wheel arch into the lower body. This is good stuff and shows why Ford CEO Alan Mullaly is eager to bring some of this design flair to US Ford products.

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