Hooniverse Asks- Does Ford of Europe Need a New Capri?

Ford Capri Mk3
This week, for the first time ever, the Ford Mustang was officially offered for sale in Great Britain. That means right-hand drive and all the VAT you can eat. That’s great for England’s pony car fans, but the fact of the matter is that the Mustang is still pretty huge, for not just England’s, but also much of all of Europe’s urban driving environments. Europe did once had their own pony car, and it was sized like everything else in that ancient land, smaller. That car of course was the Capri.
The Ford Capri with which most people are familiar followed the Mustang’s winning formula, only on in ¾ scale. The Mustang was based on Ford USA’s mid-size family car, the Falcon, and similarly the Capri tapped Ford of Europe’s family ride, the Cortina, for its platform donor. In almost every other aspect – long-hood, short deck styling, two+two interior, and sporty intentions, the Capri aped the Mustang in miniature.
That proved hugely successful back in the day, and I think it might do so again. Oh sure, there aren’t any RWD family sedans to poach platforms from, but if the Yanks can build a unique-chassis Mustang, so can the Brits, or more likely, the Germans. But should they? Do you think that the Mustang’s presence overseas makes a smaller pony unnecessary? Or, should it be taken as a sign that the pony car is resurgent, and the Capri too should rejoin the herd?
Image: Honest John Calssics

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  1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Nope. Ford of Europe need the old Capri to come back, and for it to be the early '80s again.
    Probe failed, Cougar failed, everybody went on buying BMW and Audi coupes instead. A new Capri would need to be breathtakingly good to sell to who it needs to without brand cachet behind it.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      That's one version of events, but it doesn't explain what happened in between
      Shortly after the Capri, ford Produced the Sierra XR4i, which was basically the same as the Merkur but with a V6 rather than a turbo engine if you wanted your RWD kicks, but in europe, all the cool kids in the mid 80s were already ditching the unfashionable 70s "medallion man" coupes like the Capri and Manta for hot hatches and the Fiesta XR2i and Escort XR3i were immensely popular in the UK (so ingrained in UK popular culture that MIA even wrote a song called XR2), even if other stuff like the 205 GTi were better steers. When capri sized coupes did come back around again in the mid/late 90s, there was a glut of them, Nissan 200sx (like a 240sx but confusingly with a 1.8 CA18DET), which was arguably the spiritual successor to the Capri, Honda Prelude, VW Corrado, Fiat Coupe, Volvo 480, Mazda MX6, etc. it's no wonder the Probe got lost in that noise. Most of these manufacturers don't have a mid size coupe anymore, so it;s less about premium and more the swings and roundabouts of fashion. When something goes out of fashion, there's usually only room left for the most prestigious/revered.
      There was the Fiesta based Puma coupe which was a cracking wee thing, and definitely a success commercially, just a notch or two down from a Capri in size, but fulfilled the brief of cheap, affordable to run fun.
      <img src="http://bi.gazeta.pl/im/5/11181/z11181955Q.jpg&quot; width="600">
      I don't think ford "needs" a new Capri, the 2.3 ecoboost Mustang should fill that niche and lower down the range you have the Focus ST and Fiesta ST, and a small focus or fiesta based coupe, would be a little pointless, but the world can always use more GT86 style compact RWD stuff, there just isn't enough cars like that. Problem is getting people to buy them. The GT86 just isn't half as successful here as the Scion badged FR-S appears to have been stateside.

      1. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
        Dean Bigglesworth

        The people who buy the GT86/BRZ really seem to like them, though. That's the only reason I can think of why used prices haven't really dropped at all since late 2012.. Which means I have to wait yet another few years before I can afford one.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    I can get behind this idea, as the Mustang is really a bit on the large size, but on one condition: they offer it stateside, too.
    This conceptual rendering popped up some time in the last few years — the Evos concept. Make it look like this, base it on the C platform, and make it AWD-only.
    <img src="http://uncrate.com/p/2011/09/ford-evos-concept-xl.jpg&quot; width="700px"/>

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Less "alien face"-effect with the front lights and I'd really love it. Big windows, and it looks like it's ready to jump – beautiful!

  3. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    They would need a 1.6L from the Fiesta ST in a car about the size of the FR-S/BR-Z, for the standard one, then the RS could get the 2.0L or 2.3L turbos.
    The only trouble is that it would be expensive for what you get and the Ford Focus ST and Fiesta ST already fit into the cheap(er) fun segment at Ford. Mustang comes in above them and though it's not a sports car like a turbo 260-hp BR-Z sized coupe could be, there's not enough gap in terms of pricing to have them both sell.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Do they need one? No. Would it be awesome in Ford offered one? Abso-freaking-lutely!
    Unfortunately, there just isn't any room in the market for one. There isn't any room "below" the Mustang for a sporty coupe in Ford's lineup. The base Mustang hits a price point that would be difficult to undercut with what would be a lower volume car.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      The "German" Mustang starts at 35000€/40000$, there might be some room. But I still think there's not much of a market, and would Ford dare to be a market maker in this economy?

  5. Sjalabais Avatar

    I think not, for some of the reasons mentioned above already, but also because…
    – The ST cars do take a big chunk out of the low priced sport marked. Who can afford a dedicated 2+2 but won't go for ABM?
    – Europe is a weak market with few experts seeing much growth on the horizon. This is just not a fun car market overall. Ford Köln developing a tiny Smart roadster comptitor on the Fiesta platform to be sold in Europe and Asia? Maybe…but nothing midsize.

  6. Devin Avatar

    Not sure a business case could be made, especially if they went FWD like the Probe and Cougar and it wound up just being a pretty Focus ST. If they went RWD, it could compete with the Toyobaru twins, but then it'd be relatively expensive to develop since the platform's not shared with anything and it has an upper ceiling in what they can do, with the Mustang right there being the model they give all their cool stuff to.
    Still would be cool though.

    1. Ate Up With Motor Avatar
      Ate Up With Motor

      The business case for a coupe is inherently weaker than for a hot hatch because the hot hatch is massively cheaper to develop and tool. Even a fairly radical hot hatch reengineering like the last Focus RS doesn't involve a lot in the way of extra tooling and if the changes are too difficult to accommodate on the regular production lines, you can farm out assembly to third-party firms like Tickford. A coupe, even with a shared platform and shared engines, needs new body tooling, which is expensive, and probably would also entail an additional round of crash testing and compliance testing. (I'm not terribly familiar with the EEC type approval rules, but I would think that a hot hatch could probably piggyback on some aspects of the standard car's certification — somebody correct me if I'm mistaken.)

  7. Dave UK Avatar
    Dave UK

    I'm not sure if it would work but I'd like to see it. One things for sure – there is not enough RWD cars on the market. Personally, I regard FWD as the worst thing to ever hit the market!

  8. Alff Avatar

    As an enthusiast I'd like to see it happen. As a shareholder, I think it's unwise to introduce a car into a segment where FRS/BRZ sales have failed to meet expectations and Nissan is rumored to be preparing a competitor.

  9. Maymar Avatar

    Considering Ford's midsize car is now the same size the world over (as the Mondeo is the Fusion), I think the Capri wouldn't effectively be able to be all that much smaller than the Mustang already is. Likewise, the Mustang isn't that different in size from the 4-Series or A5.
    And yeah, as multiples have mentioned, they already have the Fiesta ST. A hypothetical Capri would get stuck in a spot where the Internet decides its horrible and you (yes, especially you) should buy a FiST or a Ecoboost/V6 Mustang instead, because why would you buy anything else, what's wrong with you?
    Point being, it'd be hard to amortize the costs from a unique platform. Shame Ford doesn't have a stake in Mazda anymore though, or they could've coordinated on the new Miata.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Spot on observation, the funny thing is if you look at thehistory of Capri, it was based on the MKII Cortina saloon, in the same way the Mustang was based on the Falcon. The Cortina went through two more generations before being replaced by the Sierra then the Mondeo, which went through a few generations getting progressively bigger until you get to the recently released Fusion based model, which we got three years later than the US.
      Why is that relevant? Well the average Europeans needs in a family car for Mr. Average haven't changed and the sort of people who would have bought a Cortina in the 70s, now buy a Focus, so as you say, the the current Mondeo is way too big a starting point.

      1. Devin Avatar

        It is kind of interesting how model bloat happens, like take a look at the MK2 Cortina and today's Fiesta. Comparing the saloon versions so we get apples to apples here: Exact same wheelbase, the Fiesta is five inches longer*, four inches wider, three inches taller and about 200kg heavier. And the Cortina is technically the predecessor to the Mondeo.
        *hatchback is 8 inches shorter.

  10. JayP2112 Avatar

    If I were the supreme ruler of the universe Mustang would be a sub-brand with the coupe, convertible, RWD sedan called Falcon, Ranchero and a shortened platform for a lightweight 2 seater. Mustang all the cars.

  11. karonetwentyc Avatar

    I had a 1984 Capri 1.6LS. Great-looking car, but the 1.6 was no powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, though pretty much bulletproof. Handling: yes, it required lots of that. The suspension design was about as archaic as it could get, which was fun for throwing the tail out on wet roundabouts.
    As for making a modern one, everyone else's comments have pretty much nailed it: there's no platform to build off of that isn't close in size to the Mustang, and hot hatches have held the compact performance segment in Europe for the past 30 years. That's not say that I'm arguing against offering something different; I'm certainly not. But in today's world – where cars are largely bought on amalgamated capabilities rather than specific ones – it would be a very low-volume seller and thus difficult to make a business case for it.
    Coming back to the Mustang question for a moment: when new, the original Mustang was – for a time – a very fashionable car to be seen in on the Continent (the lack of RHD limiting their appeal in those markets). Subsequent generations never quite reached the same levels of desirability in Europe, though the trend was slowly reversing over the last couple of iterations. The current one, however, looks to be potentially-capable of repeating the original model's success: it's a very identifiably American car that works well outside of North America, and offers something different compared to the local competition.
    Time will tell if it simply remains a niche vehicle in Europe or if latent would-be Capri buyers take to it in lieu of that car being in the lineup, but the showroom floor just doesn't look to be big enough for the both of them.

  12. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    When I was over in England, I was amazed at how small parking spots were — I would HATE to have a current Mustang over there.
    But, that being said, I have no idea if there's a market for a smaller (narrower!) RWD Ford coupe over there.

  13. FЯeeMan Avatar

    The change in point size – a nice touch.

  14. nicjasno Avatar

    Now that we have the mustang in europe, NO.