Ford Focus

4 Oct, 2006 1:00am Sam Hardy

This is the stunning Focus-sized 4x4 which will be the blue oval’s first entrant into the compact SUV market

After numerous spyshots of develop­ment models (see Issues 901 and 920), Ford finally confirmed its plans to enter the off-roader sector by unveiling the Iosis X at the Paris Motor Show.

With a production version set to reach showrooms at the start of 2008, it means Ford will finally have a compact SUV to rival models such as the Honda CR-V and Land Rover Freelander.

“There has been a lot of speculation about Ford producing a compact crossover or SUV,” said Ford of Europe boss John Fleming. “The Iosis X sends a very strong message that we will be entering this market and our new model will be stylish and individual.”

Sharing the same name as the concept which preceded the new Mondeo – but with an ‘X’ to signify its cross­over status – the chunky machine was the star of the Paris expo.

Painted pearlescent white, with huge chrome alloys, it’s a real head-turner. Up front, the grille and LED headlamps of the original Iosis result in a bold face, while beefed-up wheelarches and a raised ride height give a rugged look.

At the rear, there’s a sporty roof spoiler and S-MAX-style LED lights. The final pro-duction car won’t be quite as dramatic as the show model, but Ford’s executive design director Martin Smith told Auto Express the relationship between the two will be similar to the new Mondeo and Iosis. “All the key design elements will be translated to production,” he said. So the basic shape remains the same, but the chrome wheels will be dropped and the nose toned down.

It’s a similar story inside. The four chairs will be replaced by a five-seat layout, while the roof-mounted starter, digital dash and semi-auto gearbox will make way for a conventional set-up.

Under the skin, the 4WD platform shares parts with the Focus and S-MAX, while Ford will draw on the expertise of sister firm Land Rover to ensure the car is capable off-road. Engines are likely to include the 1.6-litre petrol co-developed by BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroen, as well as 1.8 and 2.0-litre TDCi diesels.

Expect the final version to appear at the Frankfurt Motor Show next autumn, with sales kicking off early in 2008. Prices will start from around £16,000.

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