'Unlearn what you know' is the crux of Ford’s latest advertising campaign. 'Forget what you know and look at what we can do' is the message coming loud and clear from Essex.
Fronting its message is the new Mustang, Focus RS and the latest addition to its SUV range, the Ford Edge. But the big four-wheel-drive car, a resident in the US market, is more than another entrant to a congested market. It's the car designed to finish Ford's SUV range and rival the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 – a brave move indeed.
Prices start from £29,995 for the entry-level Zetec model, which undercuts the equivalent Audi Q5 and BMW X3 by around £3500. The whole range comes with four-wheel drive and a 2.0-litre diesel engine, which itself comes with two different power outputs; the single turbocharged version produces 177bhp and there is a 207bhp bi-turbo version for those looking for a bit more power.
There are two six-speed gearboxes to choose from – a manual and a dual-clutch automatic. The decision-making doesn’t end there, with three trim levels to peruse: Zetec, Titanium and Sport are all equipped with Ford trademarks such as its Sync 2 infotainment system, reversing camera and heated windscreen.
The range will be topped off with Ford’s lifestyle, luxury Vignale model later this year. Ford expects 50% of buyers to opt for the Sport trim and 60% to invest in the 207bhp bi-turbo diesel engine and automatic gearbox.
What is the Ford Edge 2.0 TDCi 180 Sport like to drive?
Both 2.0-litre diesels offer enough low down pull to build momentum swiftly in and around town, but out on the open road the single turbo version can be left wanting and needs to be worked quite hard to gain speed. The manual gearbox certainly helps you hang on to gears, but you will find yourself changing fairly regularly to get the best out of it when the going gets hilly. The more powerful engine and its automatic transmission work in tandem to make smooth and swift progress.
The less powerful engine we tried is smooth and quiet in town and on the motorway. Ford has developed noise cancelling software that emits opposing soundwaves from the speakers, and if you choose the Sport trim you get double-glazed windows to boost refinement.
The suspension is comfortable enough, with the springs and dampers absorbing the undulations, large bumps and potholes nicely. The Sport's stiffer suspension naturally firms up the ride, and over rippled surfaces can send vibrations through the seats, while large potholes can cause thuds to resonate around the cabin. It isn't helped by the 20in alloy wheels fitted to the Edge Sport as standard, either.
Weighing in at nearly two tonnes, the Edge SUV isn’t as assured in the corners like the BMW X3 - despite its direct steering it can seem quite wallowy and there is plenty of body roll in the corners.
What’s the 2016 Ford Edge 2.0 TDCi 180 Sport like inside?
Using the Ford S-Max’s underpinnings as its blueprint, it should come as no surprise that the Edge is spacious inside - it's actually slightly longer than a Volkwagen Touareg.
The boot is substantial and larger than both the Q5 and X3's. The cabin is roomy and easy enough to clamber in and get comfortable, with plenty of space up front and enough head and leg room in the rear to sit tall adults in comfort.
Its interior also feels well put together, with large, chunky controls that are easy to find and use and a dashboard dominated by Ford's 8.0in touchscreen Sync 2 infotainment system. It's a responsive thing, but there are higher-resolution screens with easier-to-hit buttons on offer elsewhere.
Should I buy one?
The Ford Edge is a solid attempt, and when compared to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 it has some distinct advantages; good boot space and decent room for passengers in the front and rear, while the entry-level model is significantly cheaper and better equipped than its rivals.
However, the big Ford doesn't have the premium feel that the other two offer. As a result, many to still choose the Audi or BMW instead.
In reality, the Edge is a closer rival to the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, both of which cost less to buy while offering similar equipment levels and the two extra seats. We'd suggest putting either of these cars before the Ford on your list of test drives.
What Car? says…
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Ford Edge TDCi 180 Sport manual
Engine size: 2.0-litre diesel
Price from: £34,500
Torque: 295lb ft
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Fuel economy (official combined): 48.7mpg
CO2/BIK: 149g/km/ 20%