The world’s best-selling car, Ford Focus, has inspired a Multi-Activity Vehicle concept which makes its public debut at the Paris Mondial de l’Automobile, 2002.
The Focus C-MAX Concept signals Ford’s thinking on this fast-growing segment. It combines the space, versatility and comfort of a Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV) with the sleek styling and safe, stable driving experience of Europe’s favourite car. The result is a concept for a modern family vehicle with contemporary style, appealing technology and features that help to extend an active lifestyle.
Ford expects a production version of the Focus C-MAX would appeal to families with children and active couples for whom today’s generation of MAVs has had something important missing.
“MAV customers need their space and versatility but long for a vehicle that’s also great to drive,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s European Vice President of Product Development. “The Focus C-MAX Concept delivers it all.”
Ford of Europe’s Design Group, led by Director Chris Bird, have taken ‘active luxury’ as their theme and were inspired by the functional design of sports and luxury goods, ranging from the precision of exclusive watches to the functionality of ski bindings.
“This car is designed around the space, flexibility and dependability needs of customers in this segment but moves to a whole new plane in styling,” said Ford of Europe Director of Design Chris Bird. Elegant and precise, with the extensive use of brushed aluminium design details and featuring a confident, ‘planted’ stance on unique 18-inch wheels and tyres, the Focus C-MAX signals Ford’s commitment to deliver contemporary design and driving quality in this family-orientated segment.
Outside, Focus C-MAX Concept is finished in Tonic Blue, a shimmering light hue.
Inside, the emphasis on luxury is evidenced by its unique seating theme of four individual seats, its DVD-based, rear-seat multi-media system and its exclusive interior design architecture. Twin, tinted skylights run the length of the vehicle roof, flanking an island-style multi-functional centre console that incorporates individual occupant-controlled lighting, built-in stowage areas and innovative wireless technology.
Space For Elegant Design
Ford Focus C-MAX Concept is luxurious and spacious on the inside, incorporating many elegant design details.
Cream and blue are the major interior colours, and reflect the luxury feel of a private jet. There is very generous space front and rear, extensive use of leather, individual sports-style seating architecture and personalised entertainment technology.
Twin consoles run full length of the car and mirror each other. The lower console runs between the two front seats and two rear seats, while a ceiling-mounted upper console runs along the centre of the roof panel. These provide both functionality and flexibility to augment spaciousness and comfort.
The lower console houses a neat electronic parking brake and gear lever, along with a front seat stowage compartment, cupholders and armrests for the front and rear seats. At the rear is more stowage, including two flip-out tables for use by rear-seat occupants.
The upper console contains a small camera for an innovative "integrated Remote Imaging System", plus background lighting and personalised reading lamps in a contemporary ‘halogen style’ design normally seen in modern buildings. The interior rear-view mirror – also featuring brushed aluminium accents – is mounted at its leading edge and it offers two further roof stowage compartments accessible to rear-seat passengers.
Focus C-MAX also features four individual cream leather Recaro sport seats. Each is six-way power adjustable and trimmed with brushed aluminium. The seats are mounted on architectural ‘bridges’ that extend from the lower centre console to the outer sills. The distinctly shaped bridges are also covered in cream-coloured leather and feature more brushed aluminium accents. This unusual feature adds to the Focus C-MAX Concept’s interior airiness, footwell spaciousness and comfort.
Three-point safety belts for each seat are provided in contrasting navy blue, part of a comprehensive safety technology system inspired by Ford’s innovative Intelligent Protection System pioneered by the Ford Mondeo.
A unique instrument panel features backlit gauge design trimmed in brushed aluminium alloy. The upper instrument panel is trimmed in navy blue leather while the lower trim is cream-coloured leather, in keeping with the overall interior design theme of contrasting colours.
Family-Sized Without Looking Like A Family Car
The shape of the new Focus C-MAX Concept is carefully designed to reflect the feeling of many MAV owners who need space and functionality but don’t necessarily want a compromised driving experience.
“Because it is a Ford, you should expect outstanding levels of driving quality, but we wanted this to be obviously reflected in the design also” said Bird.
The key to this was ensuring that the design attributes were clearly inspired by and derived from the Ford Focus, the world’s best-selling car for the last two years running.
But Focus C-MAX Concept’s face looks to the future, and evolves the look of the Focus for its own unique and mature character.
An inverted ellipse grille, angular headlamps and larger lower grille are clearly recognisable Ford design cues, symbolic of the Focus C-MAX Concept’s contemporary character and Ford dependability.
The grille surround is another touch of precision-brushed aluminium, while long, strip-style translucent foglamps extend from each outer edge of the front bumper and lend further distinction to the front profile.
“The exterior is clean and unfettered,” Bird said. “It creates the visual impression that the vehicle is smaller and more car-like, and the absence of side mouldings adds to the feeling of sleekness.”
At the lower edge of the doors, matt-finish, body-colour protective cladding adds a subtle note of contrast.
Focus C-MAX Concept’s wheels and tyres add more distinctive design touches and visual cues about the driving capabilities of this MAV.
Geared to an active lifestyle, the vehicle’s 18-inch alloy wheels echo the design of a precision luxury watch featuring a two-piece look. An aluminium alloy rim anchors seven bold spokes in a contrasting titanium colour. Bold brake callipers show through the wheel design to further reinforce the visual driving quality and engineering cues.
Ford Focus C-MAX Concept rides on 235/40R18 tyres developed exclusively for this car by Continental. Their design features bold blocks of interlocking tread shapes.
A further matt-finished contrasting cladding panel is incorporated in the rear bumper. The rear view is also characterised by a brushed aluminium design feature above the number plate recess that functionally incorporates the decklid handle and serves as the visual foundation for a large, centrally-mounted Ford oval badge. A single central exhaust outlet is neatly inset in the lower bumper.
From the top, the Focus C-MAX Concept is distinctively designed. The paired glass skylights, which run the length of the roof section above the left-side and right-side seating, are separated by a body-coloured island in the middle.
The Focus C-MAX Concept features a number of neat and functional new technologies:
“Big brother” meets little brother with a new “integrated Remote Imaging System” (iRIS), the result of a unique technical partnership between Ford and Hewlett-Packard’s HP Labs.
iRIS means you can see inside, even when outside – useful when leaving children in the car even briefly to pay at a fuel station, for example.
At the heart of iRIS, Ford and HP Labs have fitted a webcam-style camera that beams images of the rear-seat area from the vehicle to a personal data assistant (PDA) device, like the Compaq Ipaq. That means that even while away from the vehicle momentarily, parents can keep an eye on the back seats.
For kids, iRIS is also a warning. Their parents now know the answer to the age-old question: “Who started it?”
Using wireless LAN (local area network) technology, Focus C-MAX Concept continuously monitors interior activity via the iRIS. Streaming video signals generated from the webcam device mounted in the overhead centre console are available to a compatible hand-held device near the vehicle.
“This new vehicle wireless information technology addresses a clear emotional concern for MAV owners,” said Kuzak. “iRIS not only reassures mum and dad that their children are OK while they temporarily leave the vehicle. It also opens up other possibilities for future technology development.”
Electronic Park Brake
Ford Focus C-MAX Concept features a neat electronic parking brake, in which a small handle-style switch replaces the bulky parking brake lever that has been part of automotive interiors for decades. The electronic parking brake is automatically activated when the vehicle is keyed off, and de-activated when the vehicle is started up and put into a drive or reverse gear.
The very latest “infotainment” technology is also on board.
A Denso DVD satellite navigation system features the latest generation global positioning system (GPS) vehicle locating and directional technology.
Fully interfaced with Focus C-MAX Concept’s in-car entertainment system, the satellite navigation system features a seven-inch colour touch screen for route programming. Its full European mapping system is stored on DVD.
The Denso satellite navigation system features dynamic route guidance when the vehicle is operating in selected major European countries. Dynamic route guidance links to "live" traffic data and allows the system to offer alternatives to its programmed routing and thereby redirect the driver around traffic problems.
The journey for Focus C-MAX Concept passengers is made even more engaging by its rear-seat multi-media system.
Twin LCD screens, mounted in the rear of each front-seat headrest, allow rear-seat passengers to enjoy DVD-based, multi-media entertainment. Ford already offers multi-media systems on Mondeo and Galaxy, but the system chosen for this concept car is the latest offering from Visteon, the new MB8000.
The multi-media system allows rear-seat passengers access to DVD-based films and other video entertainment, including console games.
The Glow Of Advanced Lighting Design
The unique, flush-mounted, brushed aluminium door handles contribute to a slick, tailored exterior appearance. They slide silently into operational position with a touch of their glowing aqua-coloured translucent ‘welcome lights.’ This feature is one of many advanced lighting technologies in the new Focus C-MAX Concept.
Neon lighting technology is used extensively in the vehicle. The headlamps feature dual HID neon beams for the main and high beams. They are mounted in unique backlit housings that give the vehicle a distinctive glow. Each headlamp unit also contains a vertical strip-style neon directional indicator on its outer edge, and the entire perimeter of the headlamp housing is distinguished by a thin membrane of light that is a further design signature.
Exterior side mirrors also feature embedded neon directional indicator strips as a further, highly visible signal to other drivers.
At the rear, high mounted tail lamps also feature neon lighting technology for all primary reverse lighting functions, with an orange directional indicator surrounded by brushed aluminium. A tailored rear decklid spoiler incorporates a long, thin, neon strip, high-mounted centre stop lamp.
Luxury Leather Luggage Demonstrates Stowage Flexibility In Style
The flexibility of space is also configured to a luxury theme. A matching set of aluminium-framed leather luggage has been created to demonstrate a unique, slide-out luggage carrier concept designed to take the effort out of family journeys.
A specially designed motorised tray secures up to three pieces of luggage in a recessed section of the luggage compartment floor. Powered by an electric motor, the tray lifts up and outward to aid in the loading and unloading of luggage.
Its functionality was inspired by downhill skiing equipment. The wheels of each piece of luggage slide into one of three dedicated tracks in the tray, similar to the way in which a ski boot is secured in a binding. The system is cleverly simple and highly functional as a result.
Through the use of this system, the shape of Focus C-MAX Concept’s luggage compartment offers more luggage capacity than the traditional MAV. This ‘clever space’ design further reflects Ford’s approach to creating the modern family vehicle.
Deep in the design of this concept is the dependability that has won acclaim and owner loyalty for the Ford Focus. Ford Focus was recently named the most reliable one-to-three-year-old car in the German market by the respected testing organisation, TüV. This dependability is already inherent in the Focus C-MAX Concept, and will be the foundation of the eventual production model.
“This new Focus C-MAX Concept is obviously more than just designers’ fancy,” Kuzak said. “It is an insight into the future of how Ford is addressing the varied needs of the modern, active family. Its clear Ford identity, its links to the Focus and its car-like stance communicate that when Ford enters the multi-activity vehicle market, it will be with a credible, great-to-drive product that customers can depend on.”
Ford of Europe has transformed its business with a product-led strategy that has re-engineered the core product range and established a firm foundation for the creation of derivative models addressing customer niches and incorporating new technologies. This strategy has put Ford at the forefront of high-pressure common-rail diesel engine technology, fostered new ST and RS performance models and created exciting niche product ideas like the Ford Streetka roadster.
“Focus C-MAX Concept offers even more exciting possibilities for extending the appeal of the blue oval,” Kuzak said. “Bringing this product to fruition would give Ford an unparalleled range of products aimed at passenger movement and space, encompassing Fusion, Tourneo Connect, Galaxy, Maverick and Tourneo and positioning the Ford brand as the industry leader.”Published 26 September 2002