The humble 4×4. Once the rugged & dependable transport of farmers and off-road enthusiasts. Now though, it has become the fastest growing segment in the automotive world and everybody from Dacia to Bentley has a sports utility vehicle or ‘SUV‘ to suit you. It’s hard not to agree. The practicality is great, the forward visibility is better than a ‘normal’ car and the all-year-round usability is not to be sniffed at. If you’re in the market for a new car, the chances are you’re looking at something in the SUV segment. Ford of course has realised and has added a new contender to its range, the UK version of the Ford EDGE.
In the UK the EDGE sits on top of Ford’s SUV range, complimenting the quirky EcoSport and the hugely popular Kuga. The EDGE is part of the new ‘One Ford’ philosophy. This is an initiative to make vehicles that can sell the world over. That is why you will find an almost identical car on the other side of the Atlantic. Our American brothers and sisters have had versions of the Ford EDGE for some time now but this new car was designed from the outset to work just as well here as in the USA. The design is pretty American but not so much that it slaps you in the face and screams yee-haw! This new approach is yielding a truly global Ford and has meant that we get proper right hand drive versions of cars like the Mustang and they get great hot hatches like the Focus RS. This is no longer the Ford you know. Let go of your preconceptions, Ford is becoming something new.
And you know what? We are rather excited by it.
The Ford EDGE on the road
This test was split across two days. We got to try both the top spec Sport and the less in-your-face Titanium spec. The Sport features a 210PS diesel engine and an automatic gearbox whilst the Titanium we drove had a manual ‘box and just 180PS. This provided a nice insight into what the EDGE offers to UK buyers. We started with the Sport which when it comes to nomenclature should be treated as the image rather than a statement of intent. By that I mean it looks great but isn’t going to be a replacement for your favourite hot hatch.
Once out of the confines of the Munich Airport, the roads opened up and our route allowed us to test the various capabilities of the EDGE. The Sport was easily at home on the fast moving motorways, getting up to speed easily whilst remaining smooth and comfortable whilst cruising. Once off the main roads and onto something a little twisty, the EDGE remained impressive. The car’s size and weight cannot be overcome but you can still extract some fun from most decent corners. More so than similar sized cars like the Range Rover Evoque but not quite on a par with the Mazda CX-5. Despite the large wheels, the EDGE soaks up bumps well and provided a relaxing drive when required. That being said, Germany’s roads are superb and ours back home may give the EDGE more of a challenge.
The auto ‘box was smooth, simple and everything the Average Joe may need from their SUV. Again, this car isn’t going to get your pulse racing but that’s not why you buy these cars. My biggest gripe comes in the form of the variable ratio steering. The aim of this system is to give you light manageable steering at low speeds and stable predictable steering at high speeds. The reality, for me at least, is a feeling of detachment and an artificial sensation. This is something I have experienced with most systems like this so not something unique to Ford. I’d rather have a simple single ration that felt predicable at all times. I will concede though that this system will be a blessing to most and I do not represent the majority of buyers. If you are like me though, do not fret this isn’t a feature on all models. The Titanium spec we drove had a normal rack and was more enjoyable to drive as a result.
The lower-powered Titanium was my favourite of the two versions to drive. The lack of power compared the to Sport was not particularly pronounced and the manual ‘box made the twisty sections of the Bavarian countryside more fun than in the Sport. The ride and grip was virtually the same and the smaller wheels further added to the refinement over long distances. The manual gearbox was smooth, easy to use and perfectly suited to the car. Don’t expect rifle-bolt feel from each gear-change but never-the-less it is pleasant to use. In addition the clutch is light and driving the EDGE becomes second nature in no time at all. My only difficulty came during my first drive through central Munich where at first the car felt very wide. This is something most SUVs of this size suffer from. Luckily this feeling goes away very quickly thanks to good visibility and the EDGE’s range of cameras and sensors.
The Ford EDGE off road
I often wonder how many SUV owners actually get their ‘off-roaders’ dirty. It’s probably a low statistic but a car like this needs to perform at a decent level regardless. You never know when you might need to cross a muddy field or deal with the few days of snow we get each year. In order to test this side of the EDGE, Ford set up a course through a Bavarian forest with a range of mud, gravel and rutted tracks for us to follow. All we did was rock-up, switch into the intelligent AWD mode and off we went.
We were pleasantly surprised by how easily the EDGE tackled the terrain. It was just so easy, the car did all the work. We never even got close to being stuck despite some fairly boggy sections. Grip was easily available and I even managed to do my best Colin McRae impression on the gravel section. I am far from a seasoned off-roader so I’ll avoid comparisons with some of the better known mud-pluggers but for who this car is aimed at, it seems more than up to the job.
How the Ford EDGE looks
From the word go, I liked the way this car looks. In Sport guise it has presence and attitude whilst in Titanium spec it seems understated and almost classy. There is no hiding the American influence but it has been toned down to such a degree that it doesn’t look out of place on our European roads. The design is edgy if you can excuse the pun (actually there is no excusing that one) but not overly fussy. The deep creases and bumps along its flanks hide the size and height of the car well. I particularly like it in the rather bright Electric Spice colour that our Sport came in.
The Sport version replaces the Titanium’s chrome details for dark gunmetal grey. On a dark car this gives an almost menacing presence but works perfectly with bright Electric Spice or the deep metallic red we saw on an EDGE cut in half at our coffee stop on day one of our test.
Inside the Ford EDGE
Anyone who has been near a modern ford will find the interior of the EDGE quite familiar. Luckily though Ford are moving away slightly from the fussy, overly angular design and towards something more user-friendly. The inside of the EDGE is a place where buttons fall easily to hand and most drivers won’t be left wanting for gadgets. We had electrically operated heated and cooled seats, touch screen Sat-Nav, MP3/CD/iPod/DAB stereo, front and rear cameras and much more on top. The Sat-Nav was the best I’ve ever used in a Ford although it’s a shame that most manufacturers still can’t make something as easy to use as Google maps on your phone.
Storage was plentiful with cubbies all over the place. The central armrest was particularly impressive with space underneath for all but the largest bottles of soft drink. The large front seats were more than up to the task of keeping me in comfort over the two days, in fact I even managed some decent shut-eye during one of my passenger stints on day two. In the back the EDGE provides decent seating for three adults although the middle seat is probably best left for shorter journeys. There isn’t much back there to keep the kids entertained but then that’s why we placate them with iPads? right?
The boot space in the EDGE was mightily impressive too. I wouldn’t be surprised it was the biggest in class. Certainly seemed bigger than the Range Rover Evoque I drove a little while back. Anyone moving up from the Ford KUGA will not be disappointed despite the EDGE’s sportier side profile.
I guess the test of any review is would I spend my own money on this car? The simple truth is yes. If I were in the market for a decent-size, well specced yet affordable SUV then the EDGE would be a strong contender. Whilst it does nothing dramatic or ground breaking, it is a solid, well built, good looking car that is priced in such a way that someone looking at a Q5/Evoque/X3 etc would have to think twice about shelling out a significant amount more. When deliveries first start arriving in the UK, I expect the Ford EDGE to become a much more common sight on our roads.