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Sprung! The car Ford said it would not build has been caught testing in Germany, and there’s a very strong indicator that it may come to Australia after all.
Due in 2023 and based on the high-riding Evos SUV coupe that debuted at the Shanghai motor show back in April, this is a lower-riding, sleeker passenger car version with what appears to be fresh bodywork from the B-pillar back.
Whether this means we’re looking at a more-formal four-door sedan to take on the Toyota Camry hybrids of this world when it reportedly breaks cover later next year, or a five-door hatchback in the tradition of the Kia Stinger or Audi A5 Sportback remains unknown, as the prototype features additional sneaky cladding to hide the rear end from prying eyes.
However, as our exclusive, possible production-ready rendering reveals, the other differences compared to the China-market Evos SUV coupe are immediately obvious: a likely unique back door shape, longer rear overhang, reduced ground clearance and no SUV-like plastic mouldings around the wheel arches for starters.
This is most definitely aimed at passenger-car buyers who aren’t interested in high-riding crossovers and SUVs. Yet the Evos is slated to adopt the SUV coupe’s breakthrough (for a Ford) full-length multimedia screen and progressive interior design and layout, further boosting its appeal.
And the Australian connection?
As we revealed back in March, the Evos name has also been registered for use globally since January 2020, and that specifically names Australia and New Zealand; this strongly suggests that it will go beyond North America and Europe, where the swoopy liftback is expected to replace the long-lived Ford Fusion and Ford Mondeo respectively.
The latter, by the way, is on track to cease production in Spain next March, leaving a gap in Ford’s portfolio.
But here’s the twist. For a few months now, some reports have suggested that Evos might be used as a suffix outside of China, meaning that we might be looking at a Fusion Evos or Mondeo Evos, though the latter is looking less likely for Australia given the dramatic decline in the nameplate’s popularity. Sales of the Fusion in North America, on the other hand, held up much better over the past decade, so it may get a guernsey locally after all.
Ford has been coy about the Evos’ place on the global stage, with a spokesperson stating back in April that the Shanghai motor show debutante was “China only”; this leads us to conclude that what we’re looking at is a somewhat different proposition altogether.
This isn’t the first time we’ve spotted Evos prototypes, of course, but the vehicle here is the first low-rider. Furthermore, courtesy of previous mules that have been caught wearing stretched current-shape Ford Focus wagon bodies, we can guess what's going on underneath.
In other words, Ford’s C2 architecture is expected to underpin the Evos, as per the Focus, as well as a whole array of Blue Oval models, including the Escape SUV, Mustang Mach-e, Bronco Sport and upcoming Maverick monocoque-bodied dual-cab ute.
Amortising the cost of this platform over such varied and diverse vehicles allows Ford to roll the dice on this Evos, and silences observers who have criticised the company for sacrificing passenger cars (Focus and Mustang sports car excepted) at the altar of SUVs. In fact, for the first time in over a century, no Ford four-door passenger car is built for the US market.
Using the modern, scalable and electrified-ready C2 architecture opens up an interesting choice of powertrain options, from the 1.5-litre three- and 2.0-litre (and up) four-cylinder direct-injection turbo petrol engines driving the front or all-four wheels, to V6 turbo AWDs for high-performance variants.
Additionally, the Evos is widely anticipated to adopt the four-cylinder hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology that’s heading to Australia early next year in the Escape PHEV, adding another dimension to this vehicle’s appeal against rivals like the Camry Hybrid.
Although the dramatic decline of the medium-sized passenger car segment globally has been well documented over the past decade, there is still plenty of money to be made; with Evo’s help, Ford wants a much larger slice of the pie, and it’s going after Toyota to achieve this.
In the US, the Camry achieved nearly 110,000 sales in the first four months of 2021 to dominate a medium-sedan segment, which recorded a surprisingly healthy 273,000 registrations overall.
While trucks and SUVs are more popular Stateside, the Camry isn’t too far behind bestsellers like the Ford F-Series (270,000 units) and Toyota RAV4 (155,000), while the evergreen Toyota outsells its smaller Corolla and bigger Highlander (Kluger) siblings in North America.
With even the Honda Accord finding almost 70,000 buyers over the same time frame this year, Ford is likely charging full-steam ahead to have a replacement for the nine-year-old Fusion ready sometime next year. Production of the latter ceased for Mexico in 2020, though there is still enough stock for the company to have shifted nearly 10,000 units to the end of April this year.
Ford, of course, is widely credited with inventing the affordable mid-sized sedan back in 1962 with Project Archbishop – an inexpensive to build and cheap to run family car initiative that, as the Cortina, helped mobilise a booming post-war world; rivals followed, including Toyota with the pre-Camry Corona as well as the Volkswagen Passat and later Honda’s Accord, while the Cortina morphed into the Sierra (1982) and then front-drive Mondeo/Contour (1993).
Hyundai, too, owes a massive debt to this line of Fords, with its first-ever model being a Cortina-based sedan built in South Korea in the late 1960s.
Will the Evos/Fusion Evos/Mondeo Evos continue the dynasty? As our image shows, Ford is far from abandoning its bread-and-butter models, but is instead evolving them. Hence Evo…
Stay tuned for more news on this important development breaks.