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First look: Ford concept borrows "built tough" philosophy

Brut force: The Incerceptor uses a modified Mustang platform.

Ford has delivered its answer to the sexy Chrysler 300C

3 Jan 2007

FORD has unveiled pictures of its new Interceptor concept rear-drive sedan ahead of its Detroit show launch.

Inspired by the big Fords of the 1960s, the Interceptor is built on a stretched Mustang platform but is not expected to go into production as a four-door Mustang.

From some angles the car takes on the proportions of the Chrysler 300C sedan. It has an 18mm longer wheelbase than the 300C and at 5120mm long, is a mere 5mm longer.

The Ford Interceptor concept comes equipped with a manual six-speed gearbox mated to an ethanol powered Ford Racing 5.0-litre V8 Cammer engine that develops 298kW.

The Interceptor proudly wears Ford’s new signature corporate face, a chrome three-bar grille.

The sedan's new look was initially inspired by the brand's 427 concept car in 2003 and has been adopted on the new Fusion mid-size sedan and Edge crossover in North America.

The Interceptor, though, wears the grille in a more striking stacked fashion, similar to the flat-faced three-bar grille on the F-250 Super Chief concept truck from last year's show.

According to Ford's executive director – design, The Americas, Peter Horbury the concept "celebrates the best of American muscle, showing customers what 'modern muscle' is all about".

"The Interceptor concept is much like a Marine in dress uniform. He looks smart and elegant but you can see the raw power that lies beneath." The concept's exterior design features substantial, sometimes brutish, surfaces and sections that give it a modern, powerful look.

Key to this look is the short front and rear overhangs and "wheel at each corner" stance.

Like the 300C, the big Ford has a low cabin and higher shoulder line, adding to the vehicle's attitude.

"The Ford Interceptor concept is a pure sedan that speaks to performance car lovers everywhere," according to Freeman Thomas, director, North American Strategic Design.

"These people might need more space, but they still appreciate the power and attitude that cars like this represent," Painted a deep blue, the Interceptor's strength exudes from its strong, high shoulders. And much like the F-250 Super Chief pickup concept, a single character line runs the length of the body side, slightly sloping downward as it reaches the back of the sedan.

This adds wedge to the car, making it dynamic, without detracting from its smooth, clean design.

Signature Ford touches include the horizontal three-bar grille, which has been structurally integrated into the bumper beam, as well as "squircles" – Ford's term for the square circle-shaped graphics – inside and out.

27 center imageLeft: Ford's Interceptor.

As a nod to performance purists, the ultimate muscle lies under the powered clamshell "shaker" bonnet, which houses the muscly 5.0-litre V8.

The engine is an upgraded variant of the 4.6-litre engine under the bonnet of the current production Mustang GT.

The Cammer modular engine powered Ford Racing's FR500C race car to the top of the Grand Am Cup's GS class, achieving five victories on its way to the Drivers, Manufacturers and Team Championships in its first season of competition in the United States.

The concept's Cammer engine is mated to a manual six-speed transmission. The car, equipped with 22-inch wheels, also shares its low-cost, low-tech and rather agricultural solid rear axle with the Mustang.

Inside, the Interceptor has black leather and metal finishes.

The dashboard, roof and thick steering wheel are leather-wrapped.

The four low-back sports seats are wrapped in thick black belt leather with exposed-edge seams and contrasting caramel stitching. The seats are accented with Ford GT-inspired "squircle" grommets finished with Titan Metal painted inserts.

These weird accents are repeated on the doors, floor, console and instrument panel.

The speedo and tachometer are eye-catching. The needles for both start at center and move opposite each other as the speed and RPM climb.

Other clever touches include retractable headrests that deploy from the roof when the car is parked. They adjust fore and aft, as well as up and down for each occupant. Audio control panel and climate controls also are stowable.

On the other hand, the gated six-speed shifter is exposed, just waiting to be thrown into gear.

For safety, the Interceptor incorporates Ford's patented four-point "belt and suspenders" safety belt design in all four seats and inflatable seat belts in the rear.

Although current three-point safety belts are extremely effective in reducing the risk of injury in a crash, Ford is researching these two potential safety belt technologies as possible ways to further reduce injury risk in vehicle crashes.

Some technical challenges remain before such restraint systems could ever be used, but the technologies might one day further enhance safety belt effectiveness.

The four-point belt showcases a possible next-generation safety belt that is more comfortable and easier to use than traditional three-point belts, according to consumer research.

Additionally, inflatable belts have been included in the rear seat of the concept to help better protect occupants in a variety of crashes.

"Our customer target for this powerful masculine sedan was a man with a family," Horbury said.

"He's essentially a good guy, but a bit mischievous. He loves power and performance. But ultimately, he’s responsible. When he has his family on board, he values new safety technology as well as a powerful engine that runs on E-85 ethanol."

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