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Frankfurt Motor Show: Ford Galaxy

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Ford is previewing the next-generation Galaxy, due to go on sale mid-2006 along with the production version of the sportier SAV concept on the same underpinnings. Sportier-looking than the outgoing people-carrier, it has a shape reminiscent of the latest Renault Espace, and demonstrates Ford's intentions of positioning the range further upmarket as a first-class travel option rather than bargain-basement mass motoring. "As we look to introduce a new generation of Ford Galaxy, we have in mind a very specific customer. That is someone who may already own a Ford Galaxy and knows what they want from this type of vehicle," said Martin Smith, Executive Design Director, Ford of Europe. "Our goal with a new Galaxy will be to offer a true seven seat vehicle that provides the product values this core customer group desires. As you can see from this preview model, all the elements are coming into place, from the refined exterior design to an unprecedented level of interior room and functionality. We think this vehicle will excel in this highly competitive segment."

The new Galaxy will be built at Ford's factory in Genk, Belgium, and unlike the outgoing Galaxy, sister model to the Volkswagen Sharan and Seat Alhambra, it has been developed entirely in-house exclusively for Ford (or at least, the Ford Motor Company empire). The show car sits on 18-inch wheels and features a fixed glass roof with integrated roof rack, roof bars, adaptive forward halogen headlamps, a split front grille, wraparound taillamps and side glass, plus a huge tailgate opening. Its interior is finished in blue leather with a dark grey trim and wood details; like most MPVs these days, it has a high-mounted gearshift to save floorspace. For the production models, "the emphasis will be on luxury, complementary colours and materials, and the dynamic use of surfacing", promises Ford. They should be practical, too, with a new fold-flat seating system, and Ford also promises a high-tech control system with a four-spoke controller called HMI - Human Machine Interface. This sounds suspiciously like BMW's i-Drive or similar systems, with a single point of contact for a number of auxiliary functions such as climate control and hi-fi; Ford claims that it "defines the dialogue between the driver and the vehicle." We shall see.
 
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