Believe it or not there has been a hole in Ford's line-up in Europe over the past few years, especially in the UK. That hole is large SUV sized: the Kuga has sat in the small, sporty, pumped up hatch sector, but for larger cars, Ford's go-to option was the S Max or the Galaxy and an MPV is a very different thing from a sporty 4x4.
The Ford Edge aims to correct that, bringing a model that's existed in the US for some years to provide some serious competition to those larger SUVs that we in the UK have been buying with glee over the past few years, like the Audi Q5 or BMW X3.
Ford Edge review: Exterior design
Before you start to panic that this is a mid-range SUV that's just been brought over from the US to satisfy European demand, let's explain a bit of the backstory here. Rather than creating a new car from scratch, Ford wanted to use an existing model.
That's resulted in an Edge that's much enhanced over the earlier versions in the US. This model, sitting on this platform, launched in the US in 2015, but the platform it's sitting on will be familiar, as it's used in the latest Mondeo and S Max too. So, rather than us Euros getting a US truck, it's more a case of the US getting a more European car to satisfy all markets.
There is a healthy dose of US looks in the design however. That huge front Ford badge is a common sight on the freeways and interstates of the USA, but now we have it rolling out across our motorways and autobahns. The big bold grille bars are only really found on the Ranger over here, and around the back there's a hint of US design in the light cluster that spans the width of the rear too.
But there's also a lot of Ford family design in the Edge. Those creases running up the bonnet will be familiar from the Focus, but the width of the Edge gives them a little more space, resulting in a design that's slightly less fussy than Ford's smaller models. Side creases and flared wheel arches give a side profile that has a hint of Range Rover about it, apart from the small rear quarter light, which is closer to the BMW X5 or Audi Q5.
The Edge is certainly a good looking car, distinguishing itself from the more affordable models like those from Kia, with the Edge Sport model (pictured) here offering additional body kit for a more attractive look: the triangular detailing around the tailpipes and body coloured lower door sections add a touch of the premium, to rival those luxury SUV brands.
That's where the Edge is designed to sit. Ford has positioned this large SUV to sit above the likes of Nissan, but remain more affordable than BMW and Audi (all of which are selling bucketloads in the UK). The Edge is much more attractively proportioned than the existing Kuga or the EcoSport, its more muscular than Nissan's SUVs, more assertive than Kia in its design.
It's 4808mm long and 2184mm wide, standing 1692mm high and weighs 2 tonnes. But Ford has designed this as a five seater and is sticking to five seats: there's no squeezing an extra two bodies in the boot. That might be seen as a downside given the range of rivals offering expanded seating in cars this size. Overall, however, we like the looks of the Ford Edge.
Ford Edge review: Cavernous interior
What that big exterior offers you is an interior with plenty of space. There's a lot of room across the shoulders and in terms of headroom for both drivers and passengers, as well as offering a capacious boot. At over 6-foot tall, we found ample space in all the seats.
The interior dash carries with it a familiar design as it's very similar to the new S Max and much of the layout and switchgear is the same. The centre console offers a huge central cubby hole between the seats, topped with an armrest. There are cup holders, places to store your smartphones, as well as a tunnel behind, right under the dash, for more storage, all of which is hugely practical.
These areas can also benefit from ambient lighting and you can choose from a range of colours, again adding a premium effect to the interior, which comes as standard on both the Titanium and Sport models, giving things a lift over the Zetec entry-level.
We've long been fans of Ford's seats. Just as we found in the S Max, the Edge is plenty comfortable, with a range of leathers available through the Lux pack on the Titanium or Sport models (the Zetec is cloth only). The Lux pack also enables climate-controlled front seats (heating and cooling) as well as heated rear seats, so there's no shortage of creature comforts.
Dual-zone climate control is standard on all models. Rear privacy glass is also standard, as is active noise control, designed to make the cabin a more serene place, which it is. The Ford Edge isn't too noisy inside, marking it apart from some of the cheaper rivals, which can lack that degree of refinement and can sound more like a van when driving - especially those smaller diesels.
Sticking to a family design from the S Max and Mondeo doesn't make for the most exciting interior in terms of design, but equally, we don't have too much to complain about either. The likes of Mercedes and BMW are more engaging in the interior, but that's reflected in the relative pricing, and comes with the premium badge. There's a combination of glossy, matt and soft-touch plastics used in the interior, with leather touch points. There's highlighting in aluminium shades, as well as a mock carbon look for the top of the glove box at some trim levels.
The Edge's rear seats can be folded easily thanks to the button in the rear, opening up a huge stowage space of 1847 litres, paired with a large boot opening - with the option for hands-free opening and powered closing. Where the Ford Edge really wins out is in the comfort and space it offers. There's amble space for the children and/or the dog, or a selection of adults, and no shortage of space to stash their gear either.
Ford Edge review: Technology treats
Technology might be the top shouting point of a lot of cars these days and in SUVs, there are no shortage of rivals. Not wanting to be out done by the likes of Kia or Honda, there's a lot of standard features on the Ford Edge. The heated windscreen, auto headlights and auto high beam, rear view camera, automatic wipers start button, dual-zone climate control, power folding mirrors, lane detection, blind spot detection, active city stop and pedestrian detection, and auto start-stop are all standard for the Zetec model.
The Edge wins out here, because you're getting a lot of options that sit on other car's extras list, sending the price soaring. Opting for the Titanium or Sport offers more options than the Zetec, but all feature an 8-inch colour central display with Ford Sync 2. That makes for easy smartphone integration, although with Ford Sync 3 offered as standard from later in 2016, technology fans looking for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, may choose to wait before ordering.
While Ford Sync 2 is well specified and easy to use, Ford Sync 3 will boost this with a much faster system and native support for the iPhone or Android handsets. Ford told us that it could be fitted as an upgrade, but there are hardware changes, so it would mean a trip to the dealer, and probably a fee.
While Ford Sync is easy to use, we're not so sold on the voice control. We've used it a number of times and found it a little formulaic. Unfortunately in the age of Google Voice and Siri, most manufacturers have failed to embrace such powerful natural language interpretation.
The Edge will also offer you an enhanced driver display which is mostly digital. This won't give you the same degree of customisation as Audi's digital display, but you do get useful crossover of things like satnav directions into the centre of the driver display and you can change the information presented in the left and right dials. This is, however, a little fiddly to access, with many levels of menus. We're sure it's all useful, it's just not that easy to get to from the controls on the steering wheel.
On the Sport edition you also get the Sony sound system with 12 speakers as standard. This might not have the ring to it that Bose or Bang & Oulfsen does, but the sound quality is lovely. While Ford aims to cancel out exterior noise, Sony aims to fill it again with great results.
Ford Edge review: Full-time AWD and engine choices
The Ford Edge is permanent four-wheel drive, looking to differentiate itself from some of the softroaders out there. Like most modern 4x4 cars, it uses a smart system to manage the power heading to each wheel to keep you driving and avoid wheel spin. That's useful both on the road and off, whether you're heading across swampy fields or driving on twisty leaf-strewn autumnal roads.
The Edge isn't filled with offroad dials or buttons. There's no descent control button or separate driving modes for offroad use, instead it's designed to be left to the car to take care of things. Given that most owners will likely only ever drive on the road, that's perfectly practical and we can't say we mind this arrangement. However, for those who really want to see what's happening, there is an option for the driver display to show the traction and power distribution through the four wheels.
Ford doesn't offer a dizzying array of engine choices in the Edge. Instead it is playing it simple and offering one engine, a 2-litre diesel: it doesn't get much more European than that. But it does have two power outputs, either 180PS or 210PS. The single turbo 180PS engine is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox and is the only option for the Zetec model at the entry-level. If you're after the twin turbo 210PS engine it comes with the automatic gearbox, and is an option for the Titanium and Sport models.
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Ford Edge review: On the road
Of the two, the 210PS is the nicer to drive, although the 180PS is powerful enough for daily driving especially if it's going to be used as a suburban runaround. This is a heavy car at about 2 tonnes, so opting for the more powerful model makes things a little more pacey. Fortunately the autobox is swift enough, with paddles on the steering wheel to give you more control if you want it, but it's also a six speed gearbox, so lacks the efficiencies offered by some of the better geared rivals.
The Ford Edge takes 9.9 seconds to hit 62mph from the 180PS engine, or 9.4 seconds from the 210PS, so it's not really fast by any measure. The Sport model is sporty in name and looks, but it's not going to challenge the BMW M Sport or Audi S on the road.
We found the automatic to be the most fun to drive. The manual gearbox is smooth enough with a light clutch making for an easy gear change, but that additional power combined with the ease of driving in the auto will probably make it the more popular choice. It's a nice setup for cruising and we could see ourselves happily drifting along the Route du Soleil in plenty of comfort, heading off for a family holiday.
It's a positive drive that doesn't get too noisy, unless it's very wet and then the noise from the inside of the wheel arches lets the side down a little. Put your foot down in the 180PS model and it's a little more noisy when you hit the higher revs, with the 210PS engine offering a more positive growl as it trips up through the auto gears, with a dab of engine sound enhancement in there too.
The ride is smooth enough, with suspension that's soft enough to keep things comfortable, with without making it a wallowy ride. The Sport model has slightly firmer suspension, so is again a little better on the road, but it also offers adaptive steering. This is designed to make the steering more "fun" by changing the ratios depending on the speed. The idea is the make it require fewer turns when going slowly and offer smoother movements when at speed. It's so neatly integrated, we can't say we noticed much difference to other steering systems.
Ford Edge review: The very serious competition
For everything that the Ford Edge does well, the competition in the SUV market is perhaps keener than anywhere else. That could be a problem for Ford. The Edge starts at £29,995 for the 180PS Zetec with manual gearbox. The base specification is good, with a lot of technology and a good looking car for the cash, rolling on 19-inch wheels, larger than most rivals, for increased kerbside appeal.
But the Discovery Sport SE, also with 180PS diesel engine is only £32,795, and isn't far off in terms of basic technology. It's slightly cleaner, but slightly slower - and will add a third row of seats for those who really want it. Meanwhile the Volvo XC60 offers a manual 190PS diesel for £32,685, but this model is only front-wheel drive.
The BMW X3 SE will give you a manual 2-litre diesel with 190PS and a leather interior for £34,150. The Mercedes GLC on the other hand gives you a 170PS diesel with 9-speed automatic for £34,910, also with leather interior. Both, arguably offer superior cabin quality, but then you're paying for it too - but at this price you're matching the prices for the Edge Sport model, and Mercedes and BMW both have massive brand appeal.
So while the Ford Edge Zetec represents good value, giving Ford that headline price under £30k, once you step up to the Titanium or Sport model you actually want, the competition starts to get rather fierce. We've also laid eyes on the Ford Edge Vignale - price to be confirmed - but we can't help feeling that you have to really love Ford to choose it over a range of fearsome rivals, like the new Volvo XC90, perhaps, or an Audi Q7.
The Ford Edge is a fun SUV. It looks good, offers plenty of space and comes with a good spec for the price at the base Zetec level. It's fun to drive and given its size, practical. This is a great choice for the average family, who want the advantages of assured all-weather driving, space for extended holidays and a commanding driving position on the road. The Edge is also likely to put some of the fancy extras within affordable reach, and stop the price spiralling.
The Edge doesn't offer additional seating (which it's cousin the S Max does), and a lot of its rivals do and some might feel that you lose the advantage of having a bigger car as a result. The narrow selection of engines again will see it as an average performer rather than exemplary: in many ways Ford is playing it safe, offering engines are typically the best sellers, rather than those that will see you screaming along the road, or able to tow bigger loads.
There are premium rivals closely priced to the Edge Sport, which is the model you'll likely want, given the preferable drive and looks that it offers. If you're in the market for a £30,000 large SUV, then the Ford Edge should certainly be on your test drive list, but we're left wishing that the Edge Sport was just a little cheaper to stand it apart from those existing rivals.