Ford designers set their sights on creating an endearingly simple vehicle for their latest project, and we'd have to say they've succeeded. Unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show, there's definitely a certain stripped-back elegance about the Start Concept, which along with its sculpted lines and some clever interior customization options, features a new 1.0-liter, three-cylinder addition to the company's EcoBoost petrol engine family that promises a CO2 rating of under 100 g/km.
The team at the Ford Strategic Concepts Group in Irvine, California, looked to some classic sportscars for inspiration when designing the Start, including an original Porsche 356 Speedster and an Alfa Romeo Zagato SZ.
“In an era of constant visual noise, we have created a car that conveys visual purity and harmony, in which every line has meaning and purpose. The Ford Start delivers a dynamic, personality driven design that stays true to the global Ford brand,” said J Mays, group vice president, Design, and chief creative officer.
The body is constructed from a hybrid aluminum/high strength steel with a lightweight aluminum safety cell, which houses side curtain airbags. Panels are made from recyclable composites and a full underbody tray assists the aerodynamics of the slick, high-belted design - though no drag data has yet been announced.
Inside, sisal fiber is used for the panels and to save weight and hold to the "simplicity" theme, fewer parts have been used in the curved front bucket seats. A notable innovation is the snap-fitting inserts which allow for customization. There's also a conceptual “MyFord Mobile” center console designed to explore the integration of a smart phone interface.
Smallest EcoBoost engine to date
There's no confirmation that the Start will ever see the showroom floor, but according to Ford the Concept’s 1.0-litre, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine will join its 3.5-litre V6 and 2.0-litre four-cylinder siblings on the production line "in the near future." Apart from the expected CO2 rating of under 100 g/km (the 2010 Toyota Prius delivers 89 g/km by way of comparison), there's little technical detail available, but Ford says that the 1.0-litre Ford EcoBoost I3 "will deliver comparable power and torque to a larger I4 engine combined with exceptional fuel economy for a petrol engine."