This Interceptor looks the business, can I buy one?
It’s Ford’s take on a super-saloon rival to the Chrysler 300C SRT-8 and BMW M5 and is called the Interceptor after one of the Blue Oval’s US police cars. This new model’s been based around the mechanicals of the latest generation Ford Mustang with a slightly stretched floorpan. It's a concept at this stage, but will Ford build it? Engineers admit it would be fairly easy to put into production, it’s just down to the bean counters to decide whether it has a future. But it doesn’t just look the business. It goes fairly rapidly too…
It looks absolutely enormous!
That’s a clever trick of the design that succeeds in making it look imposing with extra wow factor. It’s actually a shade over five metres long which makes it a fraction bigger than a Mercedes S-class. So it’s big but well resolved. And I guarantee if you drove down the street in the Interceptor, you’d get more looks than the most blinged-up M5 would ever attract. The high waistline, narrow windows and bluff chrome grille with that dramatically short overhang make it WWF aggressive...
What’s it got under the bonnet?
Ford has slotted in a 5.0-litre version of the 4.6 V8 from the Mustang. But it doesn’t want to be accused of making yet another gas guzzler – even if it has – so the engineers have adapted it to run on E85 bio-ethanol. That’s the fuel Morrisons in the UK bizarrely sells that’s a mixture of 85 per cent crop-grown ethanol and 15 per cent petrol. It provides a 10 percent power boost but cuts carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth, so everyone’s a winner. Or so Ford says.
Enough of the eco-friendly bit, what’ll she do?
A lot. Ford isn’t sure of the top speed though reckons it’s around the 170mph mark. But it’s not what the Interceptor does, it’s the way it does it that’s exceptional. Fire the engine and that big V8 rumbles into life lazily, but when you blip the throttle it’s like a sleeping giant clearing its throat. It sounds so coarse and magical you almost expect to see flames shooting out of the exhausts. As the revs rise, the better and cleaner it runs. It’s got a fantastic gearshift, too. The six-speed manual gate feels so close and precise, you can change gear with the flick of a wrist. Not that you need to swap cogs too much because there’s so much torque.
Does the inside match the outside?
In a word, yes. Of course it’s all very much a typical concept car with hand-crafted aluminium and leather everywhere - but it’s still gorgeous. The gearlever is perfectly placed for snappy cog swaps, although the trapezoidal steering wheel will remind all Brits over a certain age of the Austin Allegro. The seats don’t look particularly comfortable and they will be replaced in the finished article by something a little more sumptuous. Equally, it would probably have three rather than two seats in the back once/if the Interceptor ever makes it to production.
Any other details worth mentioning?
The headrests are really neat. They’re recessed in the headlining and when you open the door they drop down from the roof. Not sure what the point is, but they look great. The Interceptor also has four-point seatbelts. It’s something stablemate Volvo has been banging on about for a while and Ford has now adopted it too. They give you that special racing driver feel and certainly keep you well pinned in the seat. And the seatbelts are inflatable with an airbag built in to the strap to help prevent chest bruising in a crash. We didn't test this in our brief test drive.
If Ford doesn’t give the production green light to the Interceptor it’ll be really missing a trick. Its looks make the Chrysler 300C seem positively ordinary and it does at least make a concession to the environment by being largely ethanol fuelled. But the looks are only a part of this car. If the raw power of the engine and the slick-shifting gearbox are anything to go by, it would actually make quite a decent super saloon. And the ride feels almost limo luxurious while controlling body roll beautifully through corners. It could be just the car to buoy Ford through its current financial crisis.