The Ford Edge is a large five-seater SUV to rival the Audi Q5
Alan Mulally’s One Ford directive doesn’t seem particularly fair on us Europeans. The now-departed Ford boss’s idea of selling the same car all around the world means that while Johnny foreigner squires around in our spiffy new Fiestas and Focuses, we get the Mustang, but also the dubious Fiesta Ecosport from India, or the Ford Ka Plus, which arrives from Brazil this Autumn.
And now we’ve got this, the Edge. An American soccer-mom’s SUV crossover which, if you order it in anything other than police-car white, will set you back a whisker over 30 grand.
It’s a big car, almost 4.8 metres long, but with just five seats. On the Munich launch Ford banged on about how few people actually use the extra seats in a seven-seater SUV, in spite of the fact that Land Rover’s Halewood plant is working 24 hours a day turning out the similarly sized Discovery Sport with, erm seven seats.
Actually, Ford also banged on about the type of people who will buy this new Ford including ‘quintastics’ (50 to 59 year olds), “millennials’ (17 to 35 year olds), and ‘modern mums’ (anyone who has a child at home). I sometimes wonder if Ford’s marketing department doesn’t make it up as it goes along, especially when they suggested that the average annual income of a typical Edge buyer will be about £80,000.
In America, the Edge has been on sale since 2007 as the Mark I version which shared its underpinnings with Mazda’s CX-9 and the Mazda6. It is built in Canada at Ford’s Oakville plant and has sold about 1.4 million since launch. Last year it sold about 225,000 including 120,000 in the US and about 75,000 in China. So it’s popular.
This all-new version was launched last year and is based on Ford’s CD4 platform, which also underpins the Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max. In the US it comes with a selection of petrol engines, but Europe will only get a two-litre, four cylinder turbodiesel with 178bhp and a six-speed manual transmission, or 207bhp and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Suspension is MacPherson strut front and rear independent multi-link, and two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions are available.
It’s a big and relatively simple vehicle, which while not completely ugly, is quite aggressive. It sits above the Kuga in size, and there are three main trim packs: Zetec, Titanium and Sport.
The interior has all the ambience of a recently refurbished Hilton hotel and some of the design, particularly the seat stitching, has clearly strained the abilities of Ford’s Tier-One suppliers. The front seats are large, but unsupportive with hard, uncomfortable bases. The rears are equally large with loads of head room and adequate leg room and the boot at 800 litres is more than capable of swallowing an entire soccer teams’ kit, though the floor is high (794mm) off the ground.
The dash is fairly straightforward, but the instruments are over cluttered and the heater controls are confusing. Four massive air ducts jet freezing air at your hands and face whatever the setting.
There’s also a cluttered feeling about the steering wheel controls and accessing the driving functions is tricky, with some only found in sub, sub menus. There’s also the usual Ford tropes of the useless upside-down three-pin plug socket in the rear and no USB charging ports for rear seat passengers.
Standard equipment, however, does include Ford’s voice-activated SYNC control system, rear-view camera, lane-keeping aid, traffic-sign recognition, auto headlamps and wipers, DAB audio and active noise control. Upgrading to Titanium gets you acoustic side glass, satnav and heated front seats, and Sport delivers 20-inch wheels, sports suspension and Ford’s adaptive steering system. There’s a comprehensive options list including panoramic sunroof (£800), powered tailgate (£800) and various wheels and tires.
The Edge is only available in the UK with diesel engines.
Start her up and the diesel lets you know it’s there with a fierce growl and fizzing vibration. It pulls well from low down, but that flatters to deceive since, at almost two tonnes, you need to wring every last engine revolution when pressing on.
On the bland driving route, one Edge was shown a clean pair of heels by a Dacia Duster – be assured, this is far from a brisk motorcar. Of the two drivelines available, it’s the more powerful one that you want. There’s a tad more torque, which allows the dual-clutch gearbox to pull between its gear changes with more gusto and a slightly more mellifluous engine note. Rivals, however, have a lot more ratios that the Edge and that helps with their economy, noise and the perceived flexibility.
Munich’s roads are a masterpiece of highways engineering and posed no great challenges to the Edge’s suspension, although it’s clear that Ford’s engineers have done a pretty good job with what they were presented with. Body lean is well controlled and the ride is respectable, although the suspension feeds a fair bit of noise and vibration into the cabin.
It’s that kerb weight which affects the handling, though and unlike other large Fords, from the Mondeo through the Galaxy and even the Transit van, there’s a distinct lack of dynamic pizzazz, just a crushing inertia and nose-on understeer. Fortunately the brakes are up to the job even though you can feel them working hard.
Ford also provided an off-road route of the type which could be adequately traversed on a steam powered pudding trolley. Needless to say, the Edge got through and that represents about the biggest challenge most examples will ever meet. Although some of the US Edge models had braked towing capacities of up to 3.5 tonnes, the European examples will only tow up to two tonnes.
It’s American, it’s designed for big roads, big parking spots, four-way intersections and not roundabouts. Nothing wrong with that, but compared with the more agile and wieldy competition, the Edge, while riding quite well, doesn’t really offer much except a high level of equipment. This feels like car a car to reward your employees with, just not that much.