Geneva Motor Show: Ford's Mondeo and the flexifuel C-MAX

Ford's Geneva offerings include the new C-MAX and the Mondeo. The C-MAX is the greener of the two, with options to have gas, diesel, flexifuel and in "selected markets" the C-MAX can come with engines that run on liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas. Another option for the 2007 C-MAX is a large panoramic glass roof with internal blinds and the interior features ambient lighting, like the new Mondeo. The redesigned front end emphasizes a "kinetic design."

Ford calls cars like the C-MAX Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MAVs), and sees this segment as a high-growth segment that may "outpace sedans in Europe by approximately 20 percent before the end of the decade."

Read more on the C-MAX and the Mondeo

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[Source: Ford]

By Mike Thomas, FCN

DEARBORN, March 6, 2007 -- Ford of Europe is bringing new products to the 2007 Geneva Auto Show which target two important trends in Europe – the popularity of Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MAVs) and a growing taste for premium-styled vehicles.

Ford of Europe saw improved sales last year, partly due to its new S-MAX which was voted Car of the Year. This year the redesigned C-MAX further broadens Ford's portfolio of MAVs, a segment that may outpace sedans in Europe by approximately 20 percent before the end of the decade.

At the same time, European consumers are showing a preference for premium features and innovative technology in sedans, reflected in growing sales of German premium brands like BMW and Audi. At Geneva, Ford is unveiling its redesigned flagship Mondeo which packs premium styling and technological features into a mass-market sedan. On display are 2007 four and five-door models, along with the previously shown wagon version.

"The new Mondeo is particularly important to us, and it's the most technologically advanced car we've ever launched," said John Fleming, president and CEO, Ford of Europe. "I am convinced that, like Ford S-MAX, the new Mondeo will not only bring new buyers to Ford showrooms but also delight our loyal customer base across Europe."

The new C-MAX is smaller than the S-MAX and Galaxy, giving Ford a broader MAV line-up.

"The cornerstone of our 'MAX' strategy is to give customers all the features, space and flexibility they need from a family vehicle, but to style the vehicles in a way that allows them to stand out in the crowd, and above all to maximize driving pleasure," said Stephen Odell, vice president of marketing, sales and service for Ford of Europe. "Both the new C-MAX and the bigger S-MAX are true to this concept – versatile, comfortable and spacious, yet also great fun to drive."

The 2007 Mondeo is the latest example of Ford's ongoing product revitalization through its kinetic design philosophy.

"We wanted to create an emotional connection with the new Mondeo that would attract people from an aesthetic point of view even before they appreciate its technology," said Martin Smith, executive director of Design, Ford of Europe. "Our goal was to make people feel impressed when they see the car, and ultimately want to own one."

The new "sleek and dynamic" Mondeo embodies "energy in motion" and aims to set the Mondeo apart from other cars, according to Smith.

Highlights include a new face characterized by its trapezoid-shaped lower grille, high bonnet and "muscular" shoulder lines, pronounced wheel "lips" or arches and overall sleek lines. The new interior makes use of quality features like soft touch materials and ambient lighting.

For each body style, four distinct series are available, each offering a high-level of standard equipment. Titanium and Ghia models provide a choice of premium quality features, including extensive chrome and wood ornamentation inside the Ghia, and a contemporary "techno" feel in the Titanium, with metal-finish interior elements and blue glass.

New driver-focused technologies available include keyless entry and keyless start with "Ford Power" start button, new Ford Convers+ Human Machine Interface (HMI) instrument display, Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert, Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control and Hill Launch Assist, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. The vehicle also comes with a host of standard safety features.

Early reviews of Mondeo's wagon version, which premiered last year at the Paris Motor Show, were favorable. Italy's Quattoroute wrote, "While the previous Mondeo handled well, the new model offers solutions that had been reserved for cars of a superior rank until now, such as interactive dynamic control."

In the U.K., Autoexpress stated, "The latest Mondeo builds on its reputation as the best-handling car in its class."

Even U.S. auto writers took notice, with Car and Driver magazine calling the Mondeo, "thoroughly handsome.

The 2007 C-MAX also displays kinetic design, particularly in its revamped front end with Ford's signature trapezoidal lower grille, new upper grille, head lamps and hood. The interior design is also new and shares with the Mondeo features like ambient lighting.

Carrying over from the previous model is Ford's popular Comfort Seat System, with its unique ability to be reconfigured to give more leg and shoulder room to front-seat occupants when the second seat is empty.

A new feature for C-MAX is an optional panorama glass roof that covers almost the entire roof area, maximizing light and visibility. Darkly tinted to avoid glare, the glass roof has internal blinds that can be closed to provide shade and privacy along with "Solar Reflect" coating to minimize heat intrusion.

The C-MAX improves driving dynamics through such features as a wider track and precise suspension tuning. Available active safety features include Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and a new Adaptive Front lighting System, with headlights that swivel slightly when cornering.

The C-MAX offers several gas and diesel powertrains, and a Flexifuel version, capable of running on any mix from 100 percent gasoline to 85 percent bio-ethanol fuel blend (E85). In selected markets, consumers can opt for an engine that runs on liquefied petroleum gas or compressed natural gas.

"We wanted to improve the current model's strengths even further, and looked closely at the success of S-MAX when developing the new C-MAX," said Gunnar Herrmann, vehicle line director for medium cars, Ford of Europe. "We're delighted with the end result, and believe the new model combines a fresh and dynamic new look with a host of new features and, above all, premium car levels of quality.

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