As we were checking out the new Ford Start concept at the Beijing Motor Show, we ran into the head of Ford's advanced studio in California, Freeman Thomas, and the mini car's lead exterior designer, Jeff Nield.
According to Nield, he wanted to create a vehicle that retained elements of Ford's "Kinetic Design" language while at the same time create something more subdued, able to stand apart from the noise surrounding the show. Thus the Start has a cleaner simpler shape that's slightly more serious than past concepts. Nield mentioned the Mini and how it's always had a cute, happy demeanor about it. He wanted to create something different – a thing of beauty injected with very natural, organic elements.
Thomas explained that the designers wanted to experiment with a hybrid construction consisting of a mix of aluminum, high strenght steel and composites. This allowed the creation of a very open, airy cockpit, with thin pillars for good visibility, while also providing occupants a feeling of safety with the high belt line.
One of the more interesting interior details is the monorail front seat tracks that have the thrones on a central pedestal, thus increasing foot room for rear passengers. There are no production plans for any of this right now, but some of the ideas could shine a light on where to go next – and that turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder is definitely finding its way to market.