Drive Type: rwd
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States
Dreamworks Studios, Electronic Arts and Ford Motor Company announced today that the Ford Mustang will play the lead hero car role in the upcoming Need for Speed movie, slated to hit theaters next February. Of course, the Mustang didn't audition for the role like we imagine the film's star, Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, might have. Rather, Ford and Dreamworks struck a partnership deal that meant the Mustang could skip the casting couch. The deal will also see the film's universe populated with other Ford products (gratuitously so, we're guessing), and the automaker will also help the studio promote the video-game-turned-movie next year.
The hero car in question is a special one-off Mustang created by Ford that is making its debut at the E3 video game trade show as we speak. Powered by a supercharged V8 and apparently based on the Shelby GT500, the car's been modified with a widebody kit, 22-inch wheels, larger air intakes and twin hood nostrils. Ford also provided the film's production with an F-450 truck that will be called "The Beast" in the film's story, and a second Mustang to be used during filming as a camera car.
The Mustang's movie career is really taking off, with news of its Need For Speed casting closely following last week's release of the trailer for Getaway, a movie coming out in August that stars Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and another Shelby GT500. In addition to Aaron Paul and a modified Mustang, the Need For Speed movie also stars Michael Keaton (cop, we're guessing) and Dominic Cooper (villain, we're guessing), and is directed by Scott Waugh, who directed the Navy SEAL film Act of Valor in 2012.
Here's the thing about China: The folks buying cars there have a very different set of standards than shoppers in many other markets around the globe. While we all drool over hot metal with bold designs, and while we appreciate automakers going an extra step to inject even their cheapest offerings with aggressive and interesting cues, that sort of sheetmetal sex appeal doesn't always sell in the People's Republic. Case in point is Jaguar, which may be designing a more traditional-looking version of its XJ for the Chinese market, or more to the point of this story, Ford currently sells the less-exciting, last-generation Focus compact in China right alongside the new one.
So consider this new Shanghai-bound C-segment concept a preview of what's to come for that more traditional, budget-minded, less-sexy market. More proof of this pudding: Ford's even calling this concept the Escort - a nod to the Blue Oval's compact car days of yore, and a name that stirs up thoughts of basic, affordable transportation rather than great driving dynamics or bold design. "Customers in China described seeking a vehicle that is stylish - but not one that is arrogant or pretentious," Ford states. And this new Escort concept previews a possibility of providing exactly that for this rapidly expanding automotive market.
What you're looking at, then, is one of the most simple Ford designs we've seen of late, though it still incorporates all of the automaker's latest DNA. The signature hexagonal grille is front and center, flanked by attractive LED headlamps and chrome-rimmed foglamp housings. The entire car's design focuses on clean, smooth surfaces, with one strong character line flowing from front to back just below the beltline. We will say that the car looks decidedly more premium from the rear view, where narrow, horizontal taillamps with an LED accent give the car added visual width. Bland as it may be, it's a handsome little concept, though fear what would likely happen if all of the conceptual details get dumbed down for a production model.
Customers are a commodity in the automotive industry, and like any other commodity, automakers trade them back and forth. Only nobody wants to give up their customers - just to keep the ones they have and try to attract others.
That's what the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards are all about. Every year the industry research body names the automakers, brands and models that manage to keep their customers coming back for more - and attract buyers to switch from other makes. Ford usually does pretty well, but this year it rose above even its own track record.
Not only did Dearborn win the Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer award, but also the Overall Loyalty to Make. Ford also took the African American category, and the F-150 was named the top full-size half-ton pickup in customer loyalty. Ford COO Mark Fields (pictured above) accepted the awards and gave the keynote address at the awards ceremony.