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Auto blogTue, 01 Apr 2014
There has been little news about Ford's China-focused Escort concept since debuting at last year's Shanghai Motor Show, but the no-frills sedan has shown its camouflaged face again during cold weather testing in Northern Sweden. While far from a guarantee, the test location might hint that the Blue Oval plans to market the car outside of Asia.
The Escort's black robe and zebra paint make it hard to tell if anything specific has changed about the design, but the shape of the sedan looks close to what was shown in Shanghai. Under the disguise, you can still make out the hexagonal front grille from the concept. When Ford announced the model, the company said that the design wasn't supposed to be "arrogant or pretentious," and it certainly achieved that. The engine range is still a mystery, but it seems safe to expect small, economy-focused powertrains.
A report from last year indicated that Ford may be considering broadening the new Escort beyond Asia and possibly even selling it in Europe. The fact that the company brought it to Sweden for testing could bolster that argument. A release date hasn't been set yet, but the automaker has promised 15 new products for China by 2015. The basic sedan could be on the road soon.
Evo and host Henry Catchpole were thinking of excuses reasons to borrow the bonkers Ford Fiesta R5 rally car for a day or two, when it struck them: the car is street legal. With access to the R5, some of the world's most beautiful driving roads in the English Lake Country nearby, and a handy video crewing hanging around, the plan seemed to write itself.
Based on the resulting video, it was a good plan. Without spoiling the video for you - something we can't really do in text as the best part is listening to the rally car run - Catchpole finds the Fiesta to be sublimely quick and massively satisfying. Even taking the car for a spin on a pseudo rally stage, after leaving the English countryside, does nothing but add to his assessment of the beastly little Ford. Scroll on below to see for yourself, and enjoy the ride.
Ford is toiling away, installing heavy-duty engine components into select 3.7-liter V6s to allow them to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in addition to gasoline. That's nothing new, but now, Ford has announced that it will offer the 2014 F-150 with this engine configuration, bringing the Blue Oval's total number of CNG/LPG-friendly vehicles up to eight. The F-150 will be the only half-ton pickup on the market that can run on these gases.
Ford will charge $315 per vehicle to equip the optional engine, but the trucks won't be ready to run on the alternative fuels straight from the factory and must be upfitted with additional equipment. A Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier will install a separate fuel system for the compressed gases at a cost of $7,500 to $9,500, depending on fuel tank size. With the right-size tank, the F-150 equipped with the CNG/LPG-prepped engine can go 750 miles on one tank of gas, according to Ford, averaging 23 miles per gallon.
The practice of offering flex-fuel vehicles is gaining momentum as businesses take advantage of cheap gas. CNG can be bought for $2.11/gallon on average (per gasoline equivalent), and sometimes for as little as $1.00 in some parts of the US, Ford states. "With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months," says Jon Coleman, Ford's fleet sustainability and technology manager. The automaker expects to sell a total of 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles in the 2014 model year.