Geneva Motor Show: Ford sings in a new plan for its small car range

Ka+ will be the blue oval’s new small car, slotting in below the Fiesta

Ford employees sing on stage in what was one of the big draws of the show: the brand announced several new strands to its product assault on Europe’s car market

Ford is planning a multi-pronged assault on the European car market that sees it introduce a new small car, the Ka+, later this year while also expanding its luxury and high performance offerings.

The new small car is based on the underpinnings of the current Fiesta and measuring in at close to four metres will not be substantially smaller. However, it is expected to be more of a value proposition in a segment of the market that Jim Farley, executive vice president and president of Ford EMEA, says is increasingly attractive to European buyers.

While images of the car have not yet been released the styling features are due to take their cues from the current front nose of the Fiesta. There are no details as yet on powertrains or where the new model will be produced.

Ford certainly believes the brand can stretch across multiple spectrums, for the blue oval is also seeking to compete with the likes of BMW and Audi. We've questioned the supposedly luxury Vignale sub-brand, what with its posh Mondeos, but Vignale (named for a once-vibrant Italian car design studio) is about to get a whole lot bigger. At Geneva, Ford confirmed that the Edge SUV, S-Max MPV and, eventually, the compact Kuga crossover will all get the luxury Vignale treatment.


More Vignale models

As with the Mondeo, the Vignale versions of these cars will get extra luxury equipment and only be sold through specially selected Ford dealers. On the outside, they’ll get specific paint finishes and egg-crate grilles as well as extra chrome and 19” polished alloys. Inside they’ll get unique leather for the seats and dashboard, more sound-deadening material and an electronic noise-cancelling system to make them extra quiet. In the Kuga concept, the extra leather even extends to the inside of the tail-gate and the boot floor, although that’s a feature unlikely to make it through to production.

The S-Max and Edge will also get the new 210hp twin-turbo 2.0-litre TDCI diesel engine in Vignale trim, an engine that will also come to upper-echelon versions of the Mondeo. As for the Kuga, Ford says that four out of every five Kugas sold last year were range-topping Titanium models, so there does seem to be something of a demand for a model with more spec. Quite whether buyers will take to the whole Vignale experience (which includes an on-call concierge service, collect and drop off for servicing and free car washes forever) remains to be seen.

Fiesta ST200

Of rather more immediate and obvious appeal is the new Fiesta ST200. Resurrecting a classic hot Ford nameplate, we had been half-expecting this model to be badged as a Fiesta RS, but Ford has resisted putting its ultimate performance badge on its new hot hatch.

Power from the 1.6 turbo petrol engine rises to 200hp from the standard ST’s 180hp, and an extra 15hp (and 30Nm of torque) is available in 15-sec bursts thanks to an ‘overboost’ system. The ST200 comes for now in one unique colour - storm grey, with matte-finish 17” alloys, tweaked suspension and special Recaro bucket seats. It cuts the standard ST’s 0-100kmh time down to 6.7secs.

And performance seems to be working as a selling point for Ford in Europe. Hot off the back of launches of the Mustang, Focus ST, Focus RS and the upcoming, Ferrari-challenging GT supercar, Ford has said that in Europe its high-performance sales have risen by 62 per cent, with 180,000 hot cars sold. Plus it currently holds a 13,000-strong back-order book for the Mustang. 5,000 orders have been received for the 350hp Focus RS.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times