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Ford takes on Jeep with concept EX

Ford has its sights firmly set on one of the most popular recreational vehicles around - the Jeep Wrangler.

The new model in question is tentatively called the Ford EX and is aimed squarely at the off-road enthusiast.

Although only a concept at present, expect Ford to act upon such a design and give the thumbs-up to the mass-production if all goes well.

The two-seater 4WD is almost all frame - there is little in the way of panels. Such a frame is quite necessary, as flipping one of these vehicles is well within the realms of reality.

The "exo-skeletal" design means many of the EX's components can be removed. Panels can be added to the frame simply, using aluminium fasteners and the front windscreen even folds down for that cool safari look.

Getting into the vehicle is just like stepping into a dune buggy - the EX isn't designed for practicalities. Being a performance 'desert racer', it comes with 17" alloy wheels coupled with huge Goodrich 33/12.50/17 tyres.

The Ford engine powering the new EX is quite something, employing numerous "go-faster" parts. First and foremost - the engine takes advantage of a supercharger.

Add to this a massive inter-cooler and things are starting to look very bright on the Ford horizon.

All this is clamped on to a SOHC, 4.0-litre, V6 engine. This works with a 5-speed manual gearbox to push 375hp@ 4,600rpm to all wheels. Peak torque is 410 lb.ft@ 3,800 rpm.

In layman's terms, the new Ford EX will be able to tackle just about any terrain, assuming of course the specs don't decrease for the production model by too much.

Dual airbags will protect driver and passenger, along with the aforementioned roll-cage and four-point safety belts. Even the steering column slides away to allow easy entry to the EX.

From concept to reality, the Ford EX would make a promising no-compromise off-road vehicle. That said, it could go the way of many of the concepts displayed at this year's Detroit International Auto Show and never leave the R&D labs.

Regardless of the outcome, it would certainly give Jeep's 4.0-litre Wrangler a run for its money with its sharper looks and extra power.

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