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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 5, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

    Geneva LiveBlog: Ford’s commercial sense

    Neil Briscoe

    It’s a relatively quiet Geneva for Ford this year, with just the reveal of the new EcoSport compact SUV to really make some headlines. And that is, of course, a car we have seen previously. It’s been doing the motor show rounds for a while now, and was shown off by Ford last month at a big tech conference in Spain.

    Still, it’s significant enough, doubling at a stroke Ford’s European SUV presence and also giving it something to sell in what is pretty much the only segment of the European car market still showing a pulse.

    It’s very, very American in its styling, keeping close to Ford boss Alan Mullaly’s One Ford concept of selling the same models all across the world. Because it’s an SUV, that Americana effect on the styling (even though it’s actually built in India) will probably not do it any hard – we expect our SUVs to be brash and a bit of Uncle Sam bling doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Not sure if buyers will take to the oh-so-retro tailgate mounted spare wheel though, and it remains to be seen if the quality coming from Ford’s Indian plant will be up to scratch for European buyers. The EcoSport lands here later in the year with 1.0 EcoBoost petrol and 1.5 TDCI diesel engines and an all-new naturally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol.

    More interestingly, Ford was showing off the new Tourneo Courier, a five or seven seat MPV based on its globally popular compact van. Based on the same platform (and using the same engines) as the Fiesta and the B-Max, the Tourneo would normally be consigned to the commercial vehicles show and would be shunned by passenger car buyers. But Ford is about to turn that model on its head. Until now, Tourneo models (effectively the Transit family, from small to large, fitted with windows and seats) have been sold only through Ford’s commercial and van dealers. From now on though, Tourneo models will find showroom space alongside Ford’ regular car range, as Ford seeks to draw in the kind of value and practicality conscious motorists who would otherwise be checking out a Citroen Berlingo or Renault Kangoo.

    We’ve often said that if badge snobbery were outlawed in the morning, it’s cars like the Tourneo Courier that we’d all really be driving, so practical, useful and affordable are they. Ford may be about to prove us right or wrong…

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