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First Sight: Ford Evos concept

Wed, 31 Aug 2011

Two weeks prior to the Ford Evos concept's official world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show, CDN traveled to Berlin for an exclusive preview of the Blue Oval's latest creation. In attendance were Martin Smith (Europe and Asia-Pacific), Moray Callum (North America) along with with J. Mays, Group Vice President, Design and Chief Creative Officer.

Mays didn't say it in so many words, but there was the feeling that Ford had made a global decision to renew it now six-year-old ‘kinetic design'. If the Evos is any indicator, what they have decided upon is to pare down 'Kinetic', to retain the highlights and at the same time invent what Mays describes as 'six new pillars' on which to build their new design language. The pillars that make up the new reinvigorated design language are: the new face of Ford, silhouette innovation, perceived efficiency, refined surface language, technical graphics and visual 'premiumness'.

Martin Smith had the biggest reason to smile, for this project was created under his direction. As the ‘inventor' of Kinetic Design it is he who had been asked to oversee this project in Europe. This was not the result of a global competition between all of Ford's eight studios scattered around the globe.

The team
Smith gathered around him key people from the kinetic break-through – the Iosis from Frankfurt 2005. Ruth Pauli had been with him then too, responsible for color and trim. Stefan Lamm, responsible for the Evos exterior had come with Martin from Opel to breathe new life into Ford's European design arm. Ernst Reim had been among the interior designers on the Iosis, so it seems fitting for him to be responsible for the Evos' interior too, and Patrick Verhee was project manager on the design, as he has been on other projects many times before (the Verve for instance).

But there has also been some new blood involved in this future Ford: Murat Seven, whom we remember from the Iosis Max; Ernesto Rupar did great work on the Detroit 2008 Saab 9-4X; and Serife Celebi was one of the young Pauli-collaborators. In addition, Dennis Sartorelli and Eugen Enns were also among the front-line designers involved.

The car
The overall look of the 4500mm long, 1970mm wide, 1360mm tall concept is somewhat evolutionary. Many of the elements that define Ford of Europe's corporate design language have been retained, but refined and reinterpreted. Its trapezoidal grille, long slender headlamps and rearward canted DLO combined with its 2740mm-long wheelbase to make the car appear as if it's squatting on its pronounced rear haunches.

Mays made much of the fact that the familiar low-mounted trapezoidal grille had now been moved upwards and was the only dominant air intake in the front, a move he said would make the car appear more premium. "The higher the grille, the prouder it stands," Mays said (suggestions that there were a faint Aston Martin feeling about it were not well received).

It is easy to see what Mays means when he talks about this being a marked evolution of the kinetic design language. It is toned down, more minimalistic in a way, but not less dynamic. The optical tricks that have been used are well known; its wheel housings so prominent we nearly have the old running boards back. The rear shoulders are also more muscular than on the 40-year-old Monteverdi Hai.

Excellent surface treatment is evident – or "purity to the sculpture of the surfaces", as Mays puts it – together with interesting, and fairly bold, graphics help save a not very provocative profile. The frontal view with the narrow headlight, "laser cut" according to Mays, and the beautiful hood with twin-cam-like power bulges is (again in Mays-speak) "drop-dead gorgeous".

The initial view
The beautifully finished concept, together with a solid model, used in the wind tunnel, were built by Vercamodel in Turin, Italy. The complex door arrangement, front and rear gull-wing, worked without problems the entire day. And that the red drivers seat – "the hot seat" according to Mays – was an excellent idea that will certainly be copied by the tuning fraternity starting tomorrow.

But this reviewer has a disturbing feeling that this is what the concepts demonstrate: a beautiful, attractive car that would look completely at home in today's traffic environment. It seems to have been designed to assure the public that Ford will continue to make attractive, but not very adventurous cars.

By Jon Winding-Sorensen