JUST when you thought there couldn't possibly be room for yet another SUV, Ford has introduced an absolute belter.
It's called the Edge and it certainly lives up to its name-tag.
Priced from £29,995, the car is available with just two diesel 2.0-litre powertrains - one with an output of 180ps and the other with 210ps.
The car has either a six speed manual or automatic transmission and every model comes with all-wheel-drive.
There is a choice of three trim levels called Zetec (from £29,995) which is expected to account for about two per cent of sales and is limited to the 180ps engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox; Titanium (from £32,245) which will attract about 48 per cent of sales and finally the Sport edition costing from £34,495 which will make up about 50 per cent of sales.
A range-topping Vignale model will be introduced later this year costing approximately £40,000.
The Edge, which is built in Canada, certainly boasts a strong SUV identity on the road with athletic styling, a raised waistline, sculpted sides and wheel arches, LED adaptive headlights with glare free technology, LED tail lamps, a prominent SUV grille, raised ground clearance, bright tailpipes, an optional panoramic sunroof, smart alloys, privacy glass and a rear spoiler.
It also features the best-in-class boot space of 1,176 litres behind the rear seats and the best-in-class rear legroom - both vitally important factors for a family car that needs to be high on versatility.
The interior is very classy indeed with a whole host of technology to be explored, including Ford's SYNC 2 with Bluetooth, voice control, an eight-inch colour touchscreen, sat nav and plenty more besides.
An optional Lux Pack costing Â£2,000 is available on the top two trim levels and introduces the likes of leather seats which can be heated or cooled, heated rear seats, a 10-way powered driver's seat with memory settings (eight-way powered passenger seat), a panoramic roof that can be opened (this replaces the roof rails) and powered door mirrors.
Other cutting edge technology (please pardon the pun) includes Active Noise Control. The car's sophisticated suspension and acoustic glass help to quell any outside sounds, but the Active Noise Control completes the process. Three concealed microphones detect any background sound which is then cancelled out by offset sound waves played through the car's speakers.
There is a Collision Avoidance System which detects a slow-moving or stationary object ahead and displays a warning and sounds a chime. If the driver fails to steer or brake, then the system activates the brakes to reduce the severity of an impact and in some cases, completely eliminate frontal collisions.
Then there is the Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system which continually monitors the driving conditions, optimising traction wherever needed. A special cluster display keeps the driver informed of the power split and the conditions beneath front and rear wheels.
Add in Adaptive steering, inflatable rear seatbelts and glare-free headlights and it would be fair to say the all-new Ford Edge is packed to bursting with very clever technology, but how does it perform when put to the test?
We tried out a couple of models on the sweeping roads around Edinburgh and even ventured off road to test out the car's all-wheel drive capabilities - and the edge was certainly up for the challenge.
First up was the Edge Sport 2.0-litre 180ps with manual gearbox priced at £34,500 (£37,845 with options). This car can reach 62mph from a standing start in 9.9 seconds, tops out at 124mph, has combined fuel economy of 47.9mpg and carbon emissions of 152g/km.
The vehicle looked very smart in Electric Spice paintwork - a bit like a golden orange shade - and the classy feel is carried through to the cabin where you are greeted with plenty of premium styling, including leather upholstery, state-of-the-art technology and a very light, spacious and clutter-free environment where all controls and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use.
Despite being the lower-powered model, acceleration through the gears was swift and nicely responsive with a constant stream of power on tap, which helped to make light work of quick bursts of pace.
Even when pushed hard, the Edge seems to glide along in virtual silence absorbing all the bumps and outside sounds along the way. It's very grippy and can be thrown enthusiastically into corners with no fear of too much body roll. The steering is precise and the all-round handling and driving dynamics belie its near two-tonne weight.
We also took this model away from the security of the Tarmac and it proved most competent when tackling grass and heavily gravelled tracks with very loose stones and small rocks.
Next up was the Edge Titanium 2.0-litre 210ps with six-speed PowerShift Automatic transmission, priced at £34,495 (increased to £39,215 with extras). This model can reach from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds, maxes out at 131mph, has combined efficiency of 48.7mpg with emissions of 149g/km.
Once again the test car was a true delight to drive. The auto transmission was both slick and responsive with the option of steering wheel mounted paddle shifts. And that extra power output was also apparent with a little more grunt and oomph than the first car.
The interior of the Edge is exceptionally roomy and a 6ft-plus adult could comfortably sit behind a driver of the same height. And even with the optional panoramic sunroof fitted, headroom remains very good.
To be honest, both cars handled beautifully and the Edge proved to be a very refined, comfortable, practical, generously-equipped, spacious and good-looking vehicle that's big on personality and performance.
I guess the only real downside is that buyers will be limited to five seat models whereas some rivals offer the flexibility of seven.
That said though, Ford now boasts one of the finest SUV line-ups of any manufacturer with the Edge joining existing models EcoSport and Kuga.
It's easy to see why the blue oval company predicts 3,000 Edge sales by the end of this year rising to between 5,000 and 5,500 units next year.