You are here: Home / Articles / Auto Shows / 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit / Ford SynUS Concept Takes Urban Living to New Level

Ford SynUS Concept Takes Urban Living to New Level

Americans may be restless, but they are not rootless. They always know where they are going. A century ago, population was moving from the farm to the city. Fifty years ago, the shift was to the suburbs. Today, the trend is back to big cities.

The Ford SYNUS concept is aimed at those taking part in this shift. It is compact enough to maneuver through congested streets yet bold enough to run with the big dogs at the same time.

The B’s Have It

The SYNUS features design cues inspired by the security of bank vaults and armored cars, including the four-spoke, vault-style handle on the rear hatch.

The driver's door is opened by a combination lock.The architecture of the SYNUS comes from the critically acclaimed Ford Fiesta. Smaller than the Ford Focus, Fiesta is what is known as a B-car. Popular in other markets because of narrow streets and dense traffic, B-cars are almost unknown in America. However, considering that the majority of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2010, the time may finally be at hand for the B-car market in the United States.

The SYNUS concept explores what such a car might look like.

While SYNUS may be small, it has been designed to stand up to the rough and tumble of life in the big city. More than that, it has been given a look that says it can stand up for itself.

Taking its inspiration from bank vaults and armored cars, this concept's exterior design immediately communicates that it takes security seriously. When parked and placed in secure mode, SYNUS deploys protective shutters over the windshield and side glass. Small windows on the flanks and roof are non-opening and bullet-resistant. The rear hatch has no window at all.

The SYNUS concept also signals security through its use of a driver-side dial operated combination lock on the B-pillar. The rear hatch is operated via a vault-style four-spoke spinner. Flat glass in a slightly raked windshield furthers the armored-car look of this concept.

Bold wheel arches make a design statement as well as accommodate the vehicle's exceptionally wide track.

Inviting Inside

The rear seat can fold down flat into the cargo area.Chief designer Joe Baker conceived the interior of the concept as a warm, welcoming private sanctuary in contrast to the cold, perhaps cruel, world outside the car. Innovative front seats are identically shaped and padded on both the front and rear faces. Each seatback can slide from back to front, allowing one or both of the front seat occupants to face rearward.

This arrangement could turn the SYNUS into a conversation pit, allowing for personal interaction between front and rear occupants. While the rear seat can accommodate two passengers, it also can fold flat to become a cargo area.

Colors, shapes and materials throughout the inside of the concept also were chosen to emphasize the sense of warmth and welcome. And to make the interior even more accommodating and spacious, the steering wheel folds away under the dash. The instrument panel is similarly user-friendly. A model of ergonomic efficiency, it incorporates easy-to-read gauges and intuitive controls.

Perhaps the SYNUS concept's most eye-popping feature is a gigantic widescreen liquid crystal display in the tailgate. The largest flat screen LCD ever mounted in a vehicle, it offers a choice of Internet surfing, movie viewing, or, via, cameras, watching what's going on outside the vehicle. In motion, the display works with the cameras to function as the vehicle's rear window: by looking in the rearview mirror the driver can sees a high-definition closed-circuit image of the rearward view.

Efficient, Responsive, Fun

Custom, Goodyear P225/50-18 tires wrap the 18-inch wheels.The powertrain of the SYNUS is taken from the Mondeo sedan. The engine is a turbocharged, intercooled 2.0-liter, four-cylinder Duratorq diesel engine with 134 horsepower and a whopping 236 foot-pounds of torque.

In the interest of fuel economy, the diesel is compatible with bio-mass diesel fuel. This mix features 80 percent traditional petroleum-based diesel mixed with 20 percent bio-mass diesel. Bio-mass diesel is a non-toxic biodegradable diesel fuel made from biological sources, such as agricultural products and even recycled restaurant grease.

The concept shares the fun-to-drive Fiesta's MacPherson strut front suspension and semi-independent torsion-beam rear suspension for nimble, confident handling. For increased cornering grip - not to mention style - the SYNUS concept features a wider stance than the production car, and 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in P225/50-18 performance tires.