When the weather’s this hot for this long, the UK doesn’t know how to cope. The soaring temperatures have started fires, melted roads, caused nationwide beer shortages and turned football hooligans into, well, hot and sweaty football hooligans. Plants are dead and rain, for the first time in many years, seems like a distant memory. But if you drive a Ford, you can be assured that it’ll carry on working even if we suddenly get a downpour of snow or weeks of baking sunshine.
The temperature is currently close to -40 degrees, and snow has piled up on this poor Fiesta ST-Line test mule. There’s so much snow that you might be hard pressed to tell what it is, and it looks like it could be out of a particularly exaggerated Christmas scene. However, Ford won’t wait until December to do their cold-weather testing. They don’t even need to visit anywhere cold.
Ford’s state-of-the-art weather factory is Europe’s most advanced facility of its kind. Here, engineers can test any Ford model in any weather condition at any time of day. As well as Siberian temperatures, the facility can also simulate the unbearable heat of the Sahara desert, a category 5 hurricane, wind speeds of up to 155mph and up to 95% humidity. The engineers can also create an environment that mimics a higher altitude than the top of Mont Blanc.
These wide-ranging temperature extremes actually make this centre the hottest, coldest and most humid place in Europe.
You’ll be glad to know that the rigorous testing schedule includes almost every aspect of the car. The engineers ensure the electrics, brakes, air conditioning and cabin heating system all work, and make sure the windscreen defrosts quickly at different temperatures. Ford also checks all the paint and bodywork to make sure it stands up to all conditions.
“The vast range of punishing simulation tests will enable Ford drivers to be confident their vehicles can handle whatever climate zone they live in,” said Joe Bakaj, Ford’s European vice president of Product Development.