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Exclusive: Ford’s Falcon finale

Exposed: Ford’s last Falcon, the FH, is being fine tuned at Ford’s You Yangs proving ground ahead of its launch late this year.

Ford’s death-row Falcon alive and kicking as engineers prep the final edition

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Ford logo21 Jan 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

HERE is the first glimpse of Ford’s last-hurrah Aussie Falcon, coming to a showroom near you in the fourth quarter of this year, courtesy of the Blue Oval – with some help from China.

GoAuto snapped this facelifted Falcon sedan going through its paces at Ford’s You Yangs proving ground in Victoria, while the new Falcon ute also pictured on this page was caught testing on open roads in country Victoria.

The ‘FH’ will be the final fling for the iconic Australian rear-drive large car which will disappear, along with Ford’s Australian manufacturing operations, in October 2016.

For a car on death row, with at most two years to live from launch in about November, the Falcon will go out with a bang with a surprisingly major renovation, including sheetmetal changes.

Although both of these prototypes are well disguised, we can tell you that the fresh Falcon facelift features a new nose based on the latest Ford family design as revealed on the current Fusion in North America, along with a revised tail that could be confused for a Jaguar XF.

Ford Australia concedes some of the new parts come from overseas suppliers, including manufacturers in China.

GoAuto has seen what appears to be an air-freight document for a large car – and possibly four – from Chongqing in China to a freight-forwarding company at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport.

Chongqing, a huge industrial city on the Yangtze River in western China, is the heart of car manufacturing operations for Ford of China, its partner Changan and their suppliers in the world’s largest auto market.

However, Ford Australia brand communications manager Neil McDonald told GoAuto that no whole Falcon cars had been shipped between China and Australia for Ford.

“Our Falcon prototype vehicles were all assembled in Broadmeadows with parts sourced from many markets, including China,” he said.

“We haven’t shipped any Falcons to China. Parts would have been shipped, but no cars.” One thing is certain about the new Falcon: the V8 XR8 is destined to return for one last hurrah – in sedan form, at least.

The XR8 will get the Boss 5.0-litre supercharged V8 developed by Prodrive under the Miami codename for its Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) high-performance Falcons.

Ford, which took the FPV operation in-house in February 2013, has already announced the end of the line for FPV models, but waste not, want not – the engine will live on to give the Falcon its hottest-ever flagship.

In the FPV GT, the blown V8 – based on Ford’s American-made Coyote engine – generates 335kW of power and 570Nm of torque.

In the FH, the XR8 will get a bonnet scoop as revealed in glimpse on a Ford video on the company’s official Australian website.

As well, the XR models – XR6 and XR8 – will get their own headlight treatment, with LED daytime running lights forming curves under the twin lights to mimic the current rounded treatment of the bumper under XR light clusters.

In all, up to three headlight designs will be dished up, presumably for base XT, mid-range G6 and XR sports models.

However, all are horizontal slimline and swept-back designs, and all seem to fit within the same new bumper/bonnet/mudguard shutlines.

Like the Fusion – which will become the Mondeo in Australia later this year – the grille gets a large upper six-sided trapezoidal opening, with a small lower airway, both with chrome trim.

This is the reverse of the current Falcon and its Territory SUV twin, with their smaller upper grille and big lower cooling scoop.

You can expect the same design across the Ford range, including the upcoming Focus small car – due for a facelift this year – and the Australian-designed 2015 Everest SUV and its Ranger ute sibling.

For Falcon, the redesign requires a new bonnet, bumper and – possibly – front mudguards, as well as headlights. Side repeater indicator lights on the fenders are also likely to change, as they are being kept covered on test ‘mules’ seen by GoAuto.

At the rear, the sedan gets a new boot to accommodate wider, two-piece tail-lights. While the tail-light clusters of the current Falcon are confined to the rear of the mudguard in a fairly vertical design, the FH gets an extra section on the outer edge of the bootlid.

At a glance, the design looks like the rear treatment of Jaguar’s mid-sized XF, right down to the chrome strip running between the lights.

The ute retains the same rear design as the current model, but does get the new front nose in line with the sedan.

The roof and doors of the new sedan appear to be unchanged, in line with usual facelift practice.

Inside, changes on cars seen by GoAuto appear to be minimal, with the same dash treatment as current Falcon. However, Ford has hinted that changes will include new instruments, fresh colour and trim offerings and some new communications gadgetry.

And apart from the addition of the supercharged V8, powertrains, including the imported EcoBoost four-cylinder and ZF transmissions, are expected to be carried over. However, minor efficiency gains can be expected on all powertrains.

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