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Tiny but tough is the design theme Ford Motor Co. is developing for its coming entry in the subcompact car segment.
Ford isn't revealing its subcompact, slated for U.S. introduction in 2007 or 2008. But recent show cars, including the SynUS concept that debuts Sunday at the Detroit auto show, hint at Ford's plans for the segment.
The SynUS, inspired by bank vaults and armored cars, is a boxy little sport wagon with bulletproof glass and doors that are 6 inches thick.
Despite many over-the-top elements - retractable metal shutters for its windows and a giant flat-screen monitor covering the inside tailgate - the SynUS features realistic touches aimed at the youthful buyers of subcompacts.
The concept's engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel borrowed from the European Ford Mondeo.
The SynUS is built on the platform used for the Ford Fiesta in Europe.
Ford designer Joe Baker says the Mini broke the mold in making a B-car desirable.
With its brawny version of Ford's three-bar grille, the concept also has touches of the Ford Bronco concept shown at the 2004 Detroit auto show.
The coming subcompact production car is likely to be derived from the Fiesta-based Ford EcoSport, an SUV-styled sport wagon sold in Latin America.
At less than 5 feet tall, the SynUS' tiny package counteracts any threatening imagery.
"Actually, it's just cute," Baker said. "If it was any larger, people probably would be freaked out by it."
(By Amy Wilson :: Automotive News :: 1-7-5)
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