PARIS - A surprise star headlines Ford's La Collection Focus at the 2004 Paris Motor Show: a concept car inspired by the new Ford Focus.
"The Ford Focus Vignale Concept is an elegant, stylish design model with a dual personality, design flair and contemporary details that hint at classic Italian sports cars," says its chief designer, Ehab Kaoud.
Sitting alongside the all-new Focus production range as it makes its debut in Paris, the Focus Vignale Concept is a one-off design study that explores the potential for future Focus derivatives.
"We believe the dynamic design of the new Ford Focus offers tremendous promise from which we can develop additional models that truly inspire desire in our customers," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's European Vice President for Product Development. "The Ford Focus Vignale Concept clearly demonstrates the intriguing possibilities to expand the all-new Focus family into specific niches."
The Italian Connection
The Focus Vignale Concept takes its inspiration and name from the renowned Italian designer, Alfredo Vignale (1913 - 1969), who has an historical connection with Ford's European design heritage.
His Carrozzeria Vignale company produced many stylish, coachbuilt sports cars during the 1950's and 1960's and joined Ford Motor Company's De Tomaso Automobili in 1969.
Metamorphosis of Mood and Function
The Focus Vignale Concept is actually two cars in one - ideal for changing moods and environments.
Regardless of the weather, the Focus Vignale Concept conveys a strong emotional appeal that Ford designers believe will inspire longing and a touch of envy. As a stylish and sporty coupé that is just as appealing in autumn and winter months, the car brings elegance combined with rational attributes of luxury, comfort and safety.
Its profile is dynamic and distinctive, and promises the rewarding driving experience that comes as standard in all Ford cars.
Yet at the push of a button, the coupé transforms effortlessly into an open-top convertible. Its bootlid silently tilts open and its retractable hardtop folds backward to stow cleanly in the boot, morphing the vehicle to inspire carefree emotions of open-top, wind-in-the-hair motoring.
As the car assumes its open-top role, the quality of craftsmanship and premium materials is clearly evident, highlighted by well-executed design touches inspired by the heyday of the Italian sports car.
Just one of these design facets in the Focus Vignale Concept's sweeping profile is the door handle. A modern execution of designs found in Alfredo Vignale's spyders from the Sixties, it is elegantly sculpted in a lozenge shape of polished aluminium. Yet, unlike the Sixties original, a simple, intuitive finger push now activates the doorcatch electronically, allowing the door to be pulled open with style and attitude.
Striking lines and bold body sections clearly build on the design language of the Focus production models. This foundation provided the concept design team with an opportunity unprecedented in the C-segment to create a stunningly attractive coupé derivative without making awkward design concessions to the practical packaging difficulties inherent in a folding-top cabriolet.
The result of the Ford design team's work is a derivative model with a high degree of design coherence. Only cut lines visible at the base of the cleanly and fluidly shaped C-pillar betray the fact that the Focus Vignale Concept has a retractable top.
Finished in a subtly soft and light exterior colour, Amalfi, which evokes seaside freshness, the Focus Vignale Concept visually communicates sophistication and luxury.
The exterior is highlighted by the use of bright polished aluminium which evokes the chrome of past grand touring cars from Italy. A narrow, polished aluminium strip stretches horizontally along the length of the vehicle at its sills, emphasising the confidence of the vehicle's stance, and it is mirrored by another horizontal strip at the lower edge of the side window graphic.
The Focus Vignale Concept's glass panels are uniquely coloured in Acqua, a blue-green tint that adds an air of exclusivity to its personality and elegantly subdues hues inside the vehicle when it is in coupé mode. When the car transforms into a convertible, the resulting contrast when the sun streams onto the interior accentuates the concept vehicle's dual personality.
A new look grille, finished distinctively in chrome, also evokes a feeling that the Focus Vignale Concept could be from an expensive premium brand. Its horizontal bars clearly differentiate the concept vehicle from the new Focus range, hinting at a possible future design direction.
Lower aluminium touches continue at the front and rear of the vehicle, giving visual emphasis to front air ducts and rear exhaust outlets and adding a bold strip along the edge of the bootlid between the tail lamps.
Deep, passionately sculpted 20-inch wheels with wide, sweeping spokes provide an eye-pleasing combination of polished aluminium outer surfaces with machined aluminium on visible inner surfaces.
(September 23, 2004)