New York Motor Show: what I found out about Ford

I promised to check out the Ford US car stand at the New York Motor Show this week: how fortuitous that the first stand I walked in on was the Blue Oval’s blue-carpeted, Mustang-focused exhibition.

The Mustang focus is understandable: it’s another brand that’s celebrating a key anniversary this year. 2013 is its 50th year, joining the Porsche 911, Lamborghini and McLaren Racing. Oh, and a half-century since Jim Clark’s first World Championship. Yup, 1963 was a great year.

A 2015 Mustang is being developed, of course, one that’s been confirmed for Europe (and rumoured, if not officially stated, for right-hand drive Britain too). This one’s familiar, then – indeed, I first drove it back in 2005 and was quite charmed across the twisting Derbyshire roads I drove it across. Even if I would have ultimately taken the Nissan 350Z alternative.

There were a half-dozen of them here at New York. Refreshingly though, Ford had also installed a Focus ST and Fiesta ST in the line-up. Both are products of the One Ford strategy that has seen both models launched in the US (the same policy’s giving us that next Mustang) and, for this Englishman in NYC, it was patriotically pleasing to see both hot hatches proudly represented in America.

I looked inside, too: yes, they do taste (and, indeed, look) the same as the fast Fords we get at home.

Quite a bit else does, too. Those expecting unfamiliarity will find the only thing unusual about the Focus on display was the saloon boot poking out its rear. Same goes for the Fiesta notchback: with models like the Audi A3 saloon and Mercedes CLA coming on stream, could the mainstream four-door once again be cool enough to see these variants introduced into the UK?

Me, I quite fancy the idea of a Ford Fiesta ST four-door…

The Ford Mondeo was there. Not the Mondeo we get over here – that’s not coming for another 18 months. And not actually the Mondeo, because it’s called Fusion over there. And that’s nothing to do with the silly Fiesta-derived Fusion we used to get over here. Confused? No wonder Mulally’s been so preoccupied with range streaming and simplification.

Other cars weren’t so familiar, though. And these are where the pleasant surprises came. When did the Ford Explorer become so modern and cool-looking? It could certainly pass muster over here, even if Ford would have to up the Tonka Toy interior detailing somewhat before loading the cargo ships. Oh, and fit some diesel engines. But if Hyundai can do it in this market, why not Ford?

The Ford Flex, too, is a retro treat, that’s been sold for a few years in the US so probably wouldn’t fit in with One Ford policy – but would make a great high-exposure alternative to a reborn VW Microbus should Ford wish to broaden future lines.

Good to see such an able Ford Taurus, too. This was a massive car for Ford in the 80s but was left to wither and was unsuccessfully replaced with the VW-alike Ford Five Hundred in the noughties. Mulally brought the name back (good news for Fiat…) and the car looks and feels convincing (dig the part-Alcantara steering wheel, too).

Indeed, much of the product on show bears his stamp, because it’s both familiar and convincing to European eyes. That’s the sign of a focused world brand whose products are strong enough to work anywhere. It’s the same at Audi, BMW, JLR. If one size is good enough, it really should fit all. (There are expectations: more to come on that…)

Turns out finding out Ford wasn’t that hard at all. Most of the stuff we already get. The mysteries of parallel product lines in other markets are gone. Is Ford a stronger brand as a result? Yes.

I’m now sold on One Ford  – and if the clarity I found at NYIAS transfers through to the corporate balance sheet too, then the Mulally miracle may be with us for some time yet.

Related posts

>>New York Motor Show: finding Ford

>>Book Review: American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford

>>Why I’m now a card-carrying Ford Fan