Ford of Europe's SAV Concept demonstrates a fresh approach in two ways. Firstly it defines a new breed of car, the Sports Activity Vehicle: a three-row mono-space that is athletic both in its appearance and the way it drives. Secondly, the Ford SAV Concept provides a suitably dynamic form to reveal the emergence of a new design direction for Ford of Europe.
Sleek and purposeful, the Ford SAV Concept demonstrates new ideas for people- and load-carrying flexibility. For Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's recently appointed Executive Director of Design, it marks the first indication of a new form language for the Blue Oval brand.
'We believe that within the family car market there is great potential for a non-traditional vehicle with the profile, proportions and appearance that reflect an active lifestyle,' Smith §äid. 'The Ford SAV Concept also demonstrates how we can use our flexible vehicle architectures to create a broader array of model variants that will attract more people to the Ford brand. This is the beginning of an evolving story and is indicative of an exciting future.'
SAV Concept's form language is characterised by dynamic feature lines spanned by full surfaces symbolising muscularity, substance and solidity. Within its unique proportions, this design approach establishes the foundations on which the Ford of Europe design team will build, using carefully crafted graphic elements and unique design details to create arresting and highly appealing designs.
'Ford recognises the importance of how design appeals to customers and how this can translate into making our products even more exciting,' Smith §äid. 'My role is to create the vision to achieve that will be the new face of Ford in Europe . It won't happen overnight, but the SAV Concept shows some important first steps. Think of the SAV Concept as having planted the first seeds.'
Ford of Europe Design Director Chris Bird played a key role in the SAV Concept's creation. 'We're very excited about the message this emotional Concept is sending about our future,' Bird §äid.
Different Proportions, Different Approach
Envisioned as a market offering position ed between the Ford Galaxy and Mondeo, the Ford SAV Concept explores the future possibilities for even more diversity in the heart of the Ford family car range. The new concept takes the innovative ‘business class' flexible rear seating concept, first seen in Focus C-MAX, to the next level, introducing a remote-controlled rear-seat configuration system and an integral stowage system.
At the touch of a button, the three individual seats which form the SAV Concept's rear seat row can be reconfigured. Úsing electric motors, the middle seat slides rearward into a central location. It nestles between integrated, fitted luggage trolleys which provide built-in armrests for the third-row passenger. The two outer seats then shift inward slightly to provide each occupant with greater spaciousness and comfort.
Flowing Metallic Skin
Like the figure-hugging running suits worn by modern sportsmen and women, the Ford SAV Concept's outer skin unmistakably signals its sporting intent.
It is finished in metallic silver reminiscent of liquid mercury, highlighting its sleek appearance.
'Our approach was to provide a vehicle with the space and flexibility of a people mover, but with an entirely different emotional connection with the driver,' said SAV Concept exterior designer Geoff Gardiner. 'We aimed to create an extremely dynamic vehicle, in both visual and performance terms, that would convey a true sense of pride to its owner.'
Exterior design elements have evolved from current Ford models but are characterised by more emotion and depth. The silhouette of the SAV Concept is unique, characterised by a very fast, raked windscreen and an arching roofline that ends in an integral tailgate spoiler. A distinctive side window graphic with a strong ‘kick-up' at the rear lends a dynamic quality to the profile and creates a strong D-pillar shape.
SAV Concept's bolder lines, fuller body sections and interestingly interplayed shapes are among the signals that different influences are coming into Ford's European design language.
The front of the vehicle offers a very bold graphic solution composed of the large, dual-lamp headlamps, raked bonnet and bumper sections shaped around a wide, deep inverted trapezoid lower grille opening. The interplay of intersecting lines converges on the Ford oval bedecked grille.
Details build on the visual distinction. Fog lamps are positioned higher and more centrally than in past Ford models, becoming a much more dominant design feature, while the outboard lower bumper features deeply dished brake cooling ducts finished in brushed aluminium.
Strong body side feature lines and bold wheel arches give the Ford SAV Concept a clear sense of purpose and performance intent. An undercut shoulder line sweeps rearward from the aluminium-edged front wheel arch duct. Tension is created in the body side by a parallel lower feature line that lends substance to the body definition.
At the rear, SAV Concept displays a dramatic upswept window graphic balanced by distinctive two-piece tail lamps that extend onto the tailgate. Bright dual exhaust tips bracket the venturi-effect lower bumper design. It stands on 21-inch, low-profile performance tyres fitted to highly sculpted aluminium wheels cast with five bold, Y-tipped spokes.
Design enhanced by shared technologies approach
Althou gh SAV Concept showcases a possible new direction within the family car market, it was created by a team of designers who wanted to demonstrate production feasibility.
'It is finished in such a production-realistic fashion that it looks like you could drive it right off the stand,' said Derrick Kuzak, Vice President, Product Development, Ford of Europe. 'We're confident many Geneva visitors will want to do just that.'
The design team approached the project using the disciplines of Ford's shared technology approach. This method of vehicle development provides designers with extreme flexibility to create diverse body styles and vehicle formats.
'Designers have always worked around constraints, which can be especially severe with the 'platform' approach. From a designer's point of view, it's gratifying to have the far greater degree of flexibility offered by Ford's shared technologies strategy,' Kuzak §äid.
'As demonstrated by the SAV Concept, production feasibility doesn't limit our creative vision. Clearly this vehicle is something no other manufacturer offers.'
Strap yourself in for the ride of your life!
From its exquisitely sculpted steering wheel – with electronic upshift and downshift buttons integrated into bold thumb grips – to the hip-hugging forms of the contoured sports seats, the interior of the SAV Concept is performance orientated.
'With the SAV Concept, the interior design team explored ways to advance the differentiation of a sport model of the future,' according to Ernst Reim, SAV Concept interior designer.
Complementing the exterior colour, the interior is finished in tones of slate and pewter accented by design details in orange. This theme is boldly established with a striking instrument panel centre stack finished in a soft-touch, burnt orange metallic finish. Bright orange accents in the seating, floor coverings, leather-wrapped gear lever and instrument panel complete the theme, down to such small details as the lighting of switches and gauges.
Interior materials, including technically grained leathers and breathable mesh fabric, were inspired by high-tech sportswear materials used in today's high-end trainer shoes and other sports clothing.
Titanium-tinted aluminium is also used in the interior, effectively accenting control areas such as the gear lever, the linear electric park brake handle and vent surrounds. A bold orange 'racing stripe' in the floor material is framed each side by the seat runners.
SAV Concept's dramatically contoured seats are motorsport-inspired. Front and rear, the seats are designed to hold their occupants securely and supportively even during spirited driving.
'This vehicle says ‘strap yourself in for the ride of your life,' Smith §äid.
SAV Concept is equipped with a deeply dished instrument cluster incorporating a high-resolution display panel at the centre. Each gauge – rev counter, speedometer, temperature gauge and fuel gauge – features an orange needle radiating from an aluminium hub.
Brushed aluminium pedals with textured rubber inserts provide a further driver-orientated design detail.
Evolution of a vision
SAV Concept marks the beginning of Ford's evolving vision for its future products. As a team with Martin Smith and Chris Bird at the helm, Ford of Europe Design is already aligned toward what that vision will be.
Smith explains that the design of future Ford vehicles will be a visual representation of the dynamic driving qualities demonstrated by Ford vehicles.
'Our future design language will communicate those strengths. You could call it driving dynamics made visible,' said Smith, who forecasts that Ford of Europe vehicles in the future will be more strikingly athletic and lean to emphasise the dynamic aspects of the vehicles.
'The result will be the effort of a large team, rather than one individual,' he §äid.
'In Ford of Europe Design, I'm surrounded by visionary designers. These are car enthusiasts, design enthusiasts, students of automotive trends. My role is to make them gel together, to condense that body of knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm toward a common vision.'Source - Ford Motor Company