BBC Autos

Other Side of the Road

The US Fords that Britain wants

  • Forbidden Fords
    Leading the list of lamentably absent Fords from the UK market? The Mustang, pictured here in Shelby GT500 guise. (Ford Motor)
  • Forbidden Fords
    The Edge sport crossover, which slots between the Escape and Explorer in the US, is not sold in the UK. (Ford Motor)
  • Forbidden Fords
    The Flex, a distinctively styled seven-passenger MPV that has yet to be offered in the UK. (Ford Motor)
  • Forbidden Fords
    The lament used to be reversed. Ford developed the Focus RS to grab a piece of the ultra-competitive European hot-hatch market, and never brought it to the US. (Ford Europe)
  • Forbidden Fords
    Ford Europe boosted the Focus RS's performance and appearance in subsequent generations. (Ford Europe)
  • Forbidden Fords
    The Focus ST Estate, named by TopGear magazine Hot Hatch of the Year, but not named to Ford's US product roster. (Ford Europe)
  • Forbidden Fords
    The S-Max, which can be specified with a variant of the 2-litre EcoBoost engine found in the Focus ST Estate. (Ford Europe)

HIDE CAPTION

Ford’s US operations build some great vehicles, leaving the brand’s British fans to pine for what they do not get. Wait. Surely that’s the wrong way round?

Traditionally it has been. American drivers have looked on impotently as Ford has rolled out one brilliant European-market Focus RS after another. The Mk2 Escort’s brawny 2.5-litre turbo five cylinder engine would have devoured US roads, and cheaper fuel prices would have tempered the pain of its thirst, were it only sold in America.

UK family guys count their blessings daily for the Focus ST Estate, and those with bigger families cheer for ST-engined S-Max – a hot minivan if ever there was one, and a car that will never be spotted idling outside a Gymboree in Atlanta.

Past Fords that did make it over the pond were almost uniformly awful. In the 1990s, the UK got the Probe. It wasn’t very good. Then came the Cougar, from Ford Motor’s now defunct Mercury division, and it, too, was not very good.

But as any tire-kicking Brit who pays attention to the global motor shows has noticed, the tables are turning. The increasingly brilliant One Ford initiative, whereby the Focus or Fiesta sold in Bloxham is the same as the one sold in Biloxi, means that UK enthusiasts can keep fingers crossed that some lovely North American-market Fords might become “globalised” and make their way over.

What might these be? The rectilinear Edge mid-size crossover has long been on Brits’ wish list. Kuga, marketed as the Escape in North America, is a hit in the UK, and the Edge could fill the next rung up, for those who need the space – not to mention the extra style.

And why stop there? The Explorer SUV would banish memories of the crude laggard sent to the UK in the 1990s. It was pulled well before the Firestone scandal damned it, and nobody cared. But the current one, with its smart styling, EcoBoost engine and expansive interior? Why, it’s the people’s Land Rover LR4.

Conventional large minivans have been falling off the radar in the UK, but something as standout as the seven-passenger Flex, priced right, would be a novel alternative to the seven-seat Galaxy so often used by posh cab firms in London.

Then we come to the Mustang. Ah, Mustang. Brits love the idea of it. Even non car buffs in Britain know what a Mustang is, that it’s something special. A few enterprising importers have been bringing latest-generation models over for years to appease the handful of enthusiasts willing to put their money where their mouth is – and to drive sitting on the left.

Were the coming 2015 Mustang available with the steering wheel on the right side and a more fuel-sipping 2-litre EcoBoost under the hood, the opportunity to buy an all-American but Europe-tailored icon would create buzz typically reserved for new BMW M3s and the like.

Britain doesn’t want all of it, mind. Trucks wouldn’t work on our roads – or with our fuel prices – and the cumbersome Expedition SUV would be disastrous in tight spots. But there is a lot to like about Ford’s US range at the moment. Alan R Mulally, Ford Motor’s maverick chief executive, should consider the transatlantic shopping list duly submitted. Delivery in 2015 would be great, thanks.