Copying the Europeans

Pete Mait

Despite sharing a name with a sister model in Europe, American versions of the same car obey different design rules. Instead of zippy dynamics, the stress on the far side of the Atlantic is on muscle and bulk. US vehicles are characterised by their massive chrome radiator grilles, colossal 'fenders' (bumpers) and what seems to us rather dated styling, referred to by design departments as 'Red, White and Bold'. The term is a play on words, alluding to the colours of the national flag – red, white and blue. 'Bold' is used in the deliberately ambiguous sense of both 'intrepid' and 'garish'.

But when sales are going downhill, it's time for a rethink. Suddenly, the Americans are looking to Europe for their inspiration and adopting the more successful sleeker styling. The design philosophy of Ford Europe has now become a role model for the US market. In future, all new vehicles produced by the parent company will be designed accordingly, thereby superseding the traditional, uniquely American style. The first models to display the new look are the Fiesta and C-Max, both of which were developed in Europe. The latest generation of the Focus will follow suit.