Ford has a new car. It is called Edge and is an SUV – a larger estate car with all-wheel drive and enough ground clearance and bulk to endorse its sports utility rating.
It is built in Canada and revised for Europe, with diesel engines replacing petrol units and various tweaks to the decor, suspension and so on.
The UK press launch was not in the wilds of Alberta but the sometimes wild terrain of the Duke of Roxburghe’s estate around Kelso. Appropriately, the farthest reach of the ducal land is called The Edge and there we went, up a moorland access road which gave the Ford no trouble. Phew, that would have been embarrassing.
Its establishment rivals include the VW Touareg, Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60. Are you thinking why would I buy a Ford instead of these guaranteed envy wagons?
Ford has been thinking along the same lines. It suggests that the average household income of the Edge buyer will be £80,000 – a nod towards the affluent set (don’t worry, prices start at around £30,000 and you can have one from £305 a month). It also cites its “unlearn” campaign (unlearn.ford.co.uk) which asks us to change our conception of the Blue Oval brand and see it as something other than whatever it is. An Edge is felt to be outside this customer profile, as is the Mustang sports car which has returned to the UK.
Ford must have been delighted when its focus group announced that the Unlearn slogan was as well known as Audi’s Vorsprung durch Technik. Harumph, depends who you ask. For another view of the subject look at sniffpetrol.com/2016/05/12/ford-in-unlearn-controversy.
I am still laughing as I try to tell you about the Edge. Ford must expect this parody. Its UK team is putting its PR resources into the new wave of rah rah bloggers in T-shirts and jeans and sundry web informers rather than the old print media. I must ditch the Tweeds at least.
Plus ça change, as we say in these parts when the river rises.
Life with, in or on the Edge should be acceptable. It is built on the excellent “platform” which is used under the Mondeo and S-Max/Galaxy. You can have a 2-litre diesel engine in 178bhp tune with manual gears or 208bhp tune with automatic gears.
It is made for Ford by Peugeot Citroen in France but will be replaced next year by Dagenham-built “Panther” diesels. These are a range of greener, low-emission engines, spanning 75hp to an unspecified but very high output. You may indeed want to wait…
As it is, the French-engined Edge is a fine car. We tried both engines. As you’d expect, they drop short of their 48mpg official combined averages. The 178bhp returned 38mpg and the 208bhp auto gave 30 to 34mpg over a different route.
Interiors are large enough unless you are above average height – my co-driver is and his head was brushing the roof. The ride is firm and on these demo cars you could hear things settling in the back and feel some body tremors from the road. The upside was this firm ride gave it a flat stance in faster bends. One suspects its European ride tuning is biased towards the roads of Angela Merkel and her autobahnen.
Buyers will be more concerned with how it looks and how they look. The exterior is strong, handsome, bold-faced with a nod towards Hyundai Santa Fe styling in its grille. People buy SUVs because they give that image boost from a standard hatch or saloon. Sales are screaming ahead. Volkswagen and Kia are piling into the sector. Skoda is readying its Kodiaq for launch. Ford alone will sell up to 60,000 in Britain this year, up a third more than last year and boosted by 3,000 Edges.
Model lines are Zetec, Sport and Titanium with a posier Vignale model on the way. You pay from a fiver under £30,000 for the entry Edge Zetec, which hardly anyone will buy. Aim for the Titanium from £32,245, add a £2,000 Lux pack, and metallic paint instead of standard white and for around £35,000 you can rub shoulders with the mums and dads in SUV la la land.
Once they were dubbed gas guzzlers. While they do use more fuel than a lower and lighter “car” they are getting better, with Edge CO2 ratings hovering just below and just over the 150g level. That at least is what you get taxed on. Everyday, your motoring is dirtier and thirstier. Helping keep costs down is the two-year or 18,000 mile service schedule.
In Land Rover Defender terms the Edge is a mild off-roader. That is unimportant because cars like the Edge will manage farm tracks, snow and towing. Fit some winter tyres for better grip on the colder, whiter days.
Verdict: I enjoyed the drive. Worth a look if you can ignore its pukka Germanic rivals. Kia’s Sorento and Hyundai’s Santa Fe hit the mark too.