Ford Iosis X
Bold Focus 4x4 has the X-factor
It’s X-citing, it’s X-clusive... Auto Express is the first magazine in the world to take to the road in the Focus 4x4
Text: James Foxall / Photos: Dominic Fraser
Focus-based Iosis joins new breed of compact SUVs
Dramatic doors make most of pillarless cabin, and mean access is easy
Wild styling makes Iosis Xa real head-turner
It’s X-citing, it’s X-clusive... Auto Express is the first magazine in the world to take to the road in the Focus 4x4 – Ford’s first compact SUV, and arguably its most important new car of the year.
While the production version isn’t due to go on sale here until December 2008, we climbed behind the wheel of the sensational Iosis X prototype to find out if its performance matches the heart-stopping styling.
Packed with advanced technology, the car shares its wheelbase with the five-door Focus hatch. Even so, its elevated ride height gives it significantly more road presence, as our pictures show.
Getting into the cabin is made eas�*ier by a step which folds down before the doors open – something Ford’s engineers hope to incorporate on the production car. But once you’re inside, plenty of surprises await. For a start, there are windows in the footwell!
To be honest, the glass floor is a bit disconcerting. We were assured it was easily capable of bearing our weight, but whether it will aid road safety is another matter. When you’re rolling along, the urge to watch the ground rushing by beneath you becomes strangely compelling. In fact, it’s so distracting, we nearly ran into the back of our camera car a couple of times!
Other details are better thought-out. You adjust the seats using the chrome handle between your legs, while the switchgear – such as the electric window buttons, electric handbrake and Apple iPod-style controller for the dash-mounted screen – sits on the centre console. Ford hasn’t held back on the colour, either. White detailing complements the exterior, while bright orange features prominently on the console, steering wheel and stitching on the four Alcantara-covered sports seats.
The engine on this model is Ford’s excellent 2.0-litre TDCi diesel, which will appear on the production version. With plenty of torque from low in the rev range, it makes effortless progress, despite the weight of the 4x4 system.
All variants will be four-wheel drive, but with a set-up similar to the new Land Rover Freelander’s, whereby the front wheels are driven until a loss of grip is detected, at which point power heads rearwards. Yet this machine is designed more for the school run than hardcore mud-plugging, so its on-road driving ability is more important. And although it’s difficult to give a proper assessment of the ride on those huge 20-inch wheels, the steering is certainly accurate and the interior well insulated from engine, road and wind noise.
Body roll is contained in corners and, taking into account other cars in Ford’s range, it would be a surprise if the driv�*ing dyn�*amics didn’t put the production version among the class leaders.
While the firm is a late arrival to the SUV party, it’s keen to make a really big entrance by placing value for money high on the agenda. As a result, the car is likely to follow the Focus ST and S-MAX with an aggressive pricing strategy.
It is to enter the market at around £18,000 – and that alone should see the Iosis X rated very highly indeed.
Despite the fact that it’s a fully functioning prototype, Ford remains keen to describe the Iosis X as a ‘mission statement’ rather than a production-ready car. Even so, things are looking very promising indeed for the compact SUV. The 4x4’s design is stunning and, from what we have seen, it should drive well on the road. Anticipated great value for money will be the icing on the cake.
AT A GLANCE
Inspired by a helicopter cockpit, the Iosis X interior has a raised centre console and futuristic controls. It’s an extreme look, yet a number of its elements will be carried over to the final model.
Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
0-60mph: 10.7 seconds (est)
Top speed: 110mph (est)
Glass roof gives interior airy feel, while rear view mirror gets bold look
Inspired by a helicopter cockpit, the Iosis X interior has a raised centre console and futuristic controls.
Huge wheels add to chunky look...
Eye-catching design even extends to the door handles