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Detroit Motor Show: Ford Reflex and Edge

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Ford is fully aware of the growing trend in the US to downsize, and the Reflex concept is intended to showcase some of its ideas for a future compact-class model.

A sporty coupe - some have suggested it hints at a "new Probe" - designed by Brit Peter Horbury, it has spectacular butterfly-opening doors to woo the photographers but, aside from the flash, it has a fair few fascinating details.

For a start, it is fitted with a hybrid diesel-electric powertrain that delivers up to 65mpg. In tandem with the conventional, economical diesel unit up front, it adds an electric motor to the rear axle to give four-wheel drive; the batteries which power the motor capture energy otherwise lost under braking in new-generation lithium-ion cells.

Further energy-saving touches are the headlamps and taillamps, which have integrated solar panels; solar power is collected, stored and used to charge the batteries as well as powering the car's lights. Solar-powered fans cool the car when it is parked up in the sun; and sound insulation comes courtesy of waste material from the manufacture of Nike trainers, as in the Mazda Kabura (see separate story).

Although effectively a two-seater, the Reflex has a third large seat in the rear that can accommodate an adult or, at the touch of a button to raise a divider, two small children. This seat has an integrated rear-facing child seat for optimum safety, but so that the driver can keep an eye on its occupant, there is a camera in the headliner that transmits images of the baby to the front. Safety equipment includes side curtain airbags and a new inflatable seatbelt with its own airbag.

The Reflex's cabin is finished in light, modern-feeling synthetic materials, with no wood or leather: touches of red and white keep it bright. The seats are covered in transparent mesh, allowing air flow. Many of the functions are controlled via an LCD touch-screen, which helps reduce switchgear clutter, and the transmission is controlled by discreet steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifts.

"From consumer electronics to urban dwellings, small is becoming big in America", says Peter Horbury. "The bold and innovative design of Reflex stretches the traditional boundaries of a subcompact car. Reflex delivers the fuel economy and flexibility that Americans have come to expect."

Horbury's colleague Freeman Thomas adds: "Ford Reflex is a small car that doesn't feel small. It is a gorgeous sporty car that delivers guilt-free performance with a hybrid engine. And, thanks to its innovative approach to the interior, it has space for growing families."

With plenty of space for fully-grown families, the Edge is a family-friendly SUV-crossover that will fit in the Ford range between the smaller Escape and the all-out Explorer. Like its sister model, the Lincoln MkX (see separate story), it is built on a version of the Mazda6 platform, shared with the Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr medium-sized saloons. It has the all-new Ford 3.5-litre V6 and six-speed automatic transmission, with fuel economy around the 25mpg mark. Torque-on-demand four-wheel-drive will be optional, along with traction control and a more advanced system that can distribute torque both between the front and rear axles and from side to side. Stability control is also only an option, giving the Edge a much lower starting price compared to the upscale MkX.

The Edge and MkX are also both very visually different. The Edge has the same bold grille as the Fusion saloon and is more utilitarian in its profile; its five-seat interior, with plenty of storage spaces and cupholders, is more about function than form. Options will, however, include DVD navigation and entertainment systems, and a large panoramic glass roof with a tilt-slide panel and shades.
 
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