Ford Start - 2010 Beijing Auto Show

Ford Start - 2010 Beijing Auto Show

While Mercedes-Benz has its Smart, Ford has introduced the Start, its answer for the ever-growing city car market. Launched at the Beijing Auto Show, the Ford Start is a small, 2-door coupe powered by a 3-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine.

Ford's concept recognizes that more and more of the world's population is living in urban areas. "Our ambition with the Ford Start Concept was to design a car that transcends the practical realities of commuting in these mega cities.we wanted to design a car you would also love," according to designer Freeman Thomas.

The front-engine, front-drive Start features composite body panels with bonded in color, flush-mounted glass and an aerodynamic teardrop shape to reduce weight and wind resistance, thereby enhancing the vehicle's overall fuel economy. The car's spaceframe is made of lightweight aluminum and steel components.

Like the original Smart that had snap-on body panels that could be changed, the Start features a composite roof panel that can be easily removed and replaced as a customized accessory, changing the look of the car. While the Start has the look of a sleek hatchback, the rear glass is fixed and there is a traditional trunk lid for a separate luggage compartment.

The diminutive Start rides on a 90.5-inch wheelbase and measures 145.7 in. overall. For the record, that's 39.6 in. longer than a Smart, but about 5 in. shorter than a 3-door Toyota Yaris. The Start also stands 55.1 in. tall and 65.8 in. wide. Despite this small footprint, the Start, unlike the 2-seat Smart, can accommodate up to 4 passengers.

In keeping with its simple exterior design, the interior of the Ford Start features a one-piece tub-like construction with a twin-cockpit configuration. The instruments are housed in a simple pod that can be positioned for either left- or right-hand drive, while the 5-speed manual has its gearshift located high in the console. All four window switches and the start button are also located in the central console, providing easy access whether it's a right- or left-hand-drive model.

The front bucket seats and single-piece rear bench also feature snap-in seat cushions that allow the owner to customize the interior of the car. The floor is covered with an easily-cleaned molded rubber mat.

While the overall construction of the car stresses simplicity, the Start also features Ford's advanced driver interface system called MyFord Mobile. Basic vehicle functions can be easily viewed on a 6-in. screen and controlled either through voice commands or simple switches located on the center console. Smart phones can be docked to provide hands-free communication as well as providing audible voice reading of incoming emails and texts.

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