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First look: Courier sends a tougher message

Competitive Courier: Ford hopes more aggressive styling will boost Courier sales in an extremely competitive category.

More aggressive styling and more doors for Ford's one-tonne Courier

30 Aug 2002

THIS is the tough new face and style of Ford's one-tonne Courier, which will launch in Australia in November at the same time as its mechanical twin, the Mazda Bravo.

But while the Thailand-built Ford and Mazda have been styled almost identically in the past, this time there is distinct separation, with the Courier given the look of a junior F-series.

The Mazda has also been restyled with new headlights, tail-lights and a corporate five-point logo, but retains strong links to the current vehicle.

Ford is hoping the more aggressive styling will boost sales in an extremely competitive category, which is set to get even tougher with an updated Toyota HiLux in October and a new Holden Rodeo early next year.

"One of the key things we wanted to focus on was a family of Ford Tough styling," said Ford Australia 4WD and commercial vehicle manager Kevin Lillie.

"What's really driven that styling is to link it more into F-Series and also Explorer." New features both Ford and Mazda will introduce to the local one-tonne market are reverse-opening doors and jump seats, which are labelled the Rear Access System (RAS), and will be added to the slow-selling Courier super cab and Bravo cab plus.

The RAS doors have no handles and cannot be opened independently.

"It should be a really good selling feature," Mr Lillie said.

"Super cabs don't tend to go very well here - the farmers tend to go for crew cabs or single cabs - but I think that feature will really encourage people into that super cab configuration." While there will be no further additions to the four Courier bodystyles - cab chassis, pick-up, super cab and crew cab - Mr Lillie indicated there would be adjustments to the range.

"We'll be expanding the range. There won't be more bodystyles but there will be more models," he said. "We are looking in terms of recreational models." Mechanically, both the Ford and Mazda remain basically unaltered, employing the same 2.5-litre turbo-diesel and 2.6-litre petrol four-cylinder engines.

The most significant changes appear to be an enhanced safety structure, which Ford claims fully meets European frontal crash safety standards, and models with both two-wheel ABS and a new four-wheel ABS system. The Bravo should get access to driver and dual airbags for the first time.

Mr Lillie also confirmed there would be some form of price increase for the new Courier.

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