By Aaron Bragman on April 19, 2013
The compact car segment is the largest global segment, with more compacts sold around the world than any other kind of car — and China is rapidly becoming the biggest market for such cars. In China, however, the compact car segment is further divided into three types: low, mid and high.
Ford has the high-compact segment covered with the fairly expensive Focus, and now it's looking to see how it can get into the even bigger midcompact segment with a new concept car just unveiled at the Shanghai motor show. Behold the Ford Escort Concept, a thoroughly new car with a classic Ford name.
The Escort Concept is built off the modern Focus platform, but it features a more upright, formal design. The concentration here is on roominess, subtlety and sophisticated styling. Basically, this is Ford saying that the Focus itself may not be best suited for the Chinese market because of its limited rear-seat room and edgy styling. The Escort, however, is every inch the ideal Chinese compact, and should be appealing if Ford decides to produce it.
There is no word on what powers the concept, which is little more than a styling exercise right now, but Ford has also just unveiled a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that it says is specifically tailored for the Chinese market. Engines of 1.5 liters and below receive tax benefits in China, meaning Ford's 1.6-liter EcoBoost doesn't quite make the cut. Expect that engine to be used in several products for the Chinese and American markets, as it will make its U.S. debut next year in the 2014 Ford Fusion. Sounds like a good match for a vehicle like the Escort too.
Check out the gallery of Escort Concept photos below.
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron