2007 Ford Interceptor Concept

January 7, 2007

SLIDESHOW:

‘Tis the season to be spreading cheer…and rumors. With the holidays largely behind us and the 2007 Detroit auto show, fast approaching, the automotive gossip mill starts churning out word of what just might make it to the floor of Cobo Hall.

 

TheCarConnection.com has confirmed that Ford will lift the covers on the so-called “four-door Mustang” at the Detroit show in the form of the Interceptor concept.

 

In the word’s of Ford’s North American design director, Peter Horbury, the concept Interceptor is intended to “celebrates the best of American muscle.” It’s also meant to suggest that after all too many years rolling out bland and boring products, like the Five Hundred sedan, Ford really can put some edge in its designs.

 

“The Interceptor concept is much like a Marine in dress uniform,” suggested Horbury. “He looks smart and elegant but you can see the raw power that lies beneath.”

 

“Brutish” is a word that quickly comes to mind as you look at the show car, with its low cabin and high beltline. There’s a sharp character line running the length of the car that is more than a bit reminiscent of last year’s massive F-250 Super Chief concept truck. Capped by Ford’s new signature, three-bar grille, the Interceptor is an imposing presence.

 

The proportions are distinctly rear-drive, with a short front overhang and long rear overhang. So it’s no surprise the prototype shares its platform with Ford’s popular pony car, though whether it really bears much of a visual resemblance to the Mustang coupe is likely to generate much debate when the Interceptor is formally unveiled in January.

 

The idea of adding two more doors to the Mustang may also prove controversial – as witness what happened when Dodge transformed the legendary Charger into a sedan several years ago. But like his counterparts across town, Freeman Thomas, Ford’s director of North American Strategic Design, said the metamorphosis just reflects market trends.

 

Potential Interceptor buyers, Thomas explained, “might need more space, but they still appreciate the power and attitude that cars like this represent.”

 

And power is something this muscle sedan has plenty of. The show car comes equipped with a 400-horsepower version of Ford Racing’s 5.0-liter Cammer V-8 mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Bowing to other social trends, Ford tries to paint the Interceptor green by fueling it with the alcohol/gasoline blend, E-85. (Indeed, we’re wondering why the show car is blue, rather than green.)

 

In keeping with other social trends, the Interceptor boasts a number of innovative safety features, including an easy-to-use four-point seatbelt system, something Ford engineers have been working on for a number of years. The rear belts, meanwhile, are inflatable – in other words, they function as airbags.

 

But Thomas stressed that the goal was not to overload Interceptor with too many high-tech features. “This car is about restraint – and not clouding the driving experience with too much technology. There aren’t a lot of layers between the driver and the road with this car.”

 

The show car reflects another critical trend. Across town, General Motors has been aggressively upgrading its interiors, as we’ll see at the Detroit show in products as diverse as the next-generation Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CTS sedans. Ford knows it can’t be left behind.

 

The Interceptor’s cabin is finished in dark black leather and contrasting metal finishes. Its four low bucket seats are gloved in black belt leather, with exposed seams and distinctive caramel stitching. The headrests, interestingly enough, drop from the ceiling when the sedan starts up. The needles in the side-by-side speedo and tach gauges start out in the center and move to opposite sides as speeds increase.

 

That busy, buzzing rumor mill has been rife with reports that Interceptor might surface as one in an array of new Mustang-designated products. We find that a bit of a stretch, but look carefully at this show car. You’re very likely to see some of the fundamental design cues resurface as Ford pushes the proverbial “design envelope.” The automaker has to move away from bland and safe. The biggest risk, it’s been said, is no risk at all. You may love the Interceptor or hate it, but at least it touches the emotions.

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