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FG Falcon: Ford's safest ever

Yet to test: Ford's redesigned Falcon has not undegone ANCAP testing.

Ford says FG is the safest Falcon by a mile but won't predict its crash rating

18 Feb 2008

FORD Australia’s product development vice-president Trevor Worthington has described the FG series as the safest Falcon ever built “by a huge margin” – but stopped short of pronouncing it as the first Australian-built car that will achieve a maximum five stars in the independent Australasian NCAP crash-test program.

“By a huge margin, by a huge margin, it is the safest Falcon ever – absolutely,” Mr Worthington told GoAuto at the FG’s unveiling in Melbourne on Sunday. “We are very, very confident this is the safest car we have ever engineered by a very big margin. There’s no doubt.

“But (five stars) is not up to me to decide.”

Ford Australia’s new president Bill Osborne was also non-committal but added that the company was “very confident” about the vehicle’s NCAP performance.

“We haven’t tested (with NCAP) yet, so I’m loath to give you any specific predictions, but from an engineering standpoint we are very confident that it will test very well – and we hope to have an announcement very soon,” he said.

Ford has come under scrutiny for bowing to the demands of fleet purchasers and leaving curtain airbags off the list of standard equipment on the base XT model variant. But Mr Osborne told GoAuto that it would be a low-cost option.

“Our strategy on the XT really was to provide an affordable alternative primarily for our fleet buyers, who were interested in having a base model that didn’t necessarily have all of the safety features,” Mr Osborne said.

27 center imageLeft: FORD Australia’s product development vice-president Trevor Worthington

“Our fleet customers are telling us that they want a stronger value proposition on the base model, so had we made side air curtains standard on the base model it might have conflicted with some of (their) needs.

“We needed to provide that option for our fleet buyers, while still making an affordable upgrade available for private customers.”

Questions over whiplash injuries were also raised with the absence of a centre-rear head restraint and the use of non-adjustable headrests for window-seat occupants on certain variants.

“I couldn’t tell you how much cost we’ll save (with those omissions),” Mr Worthington said. “I guess on balance when you look at all of the things our customers are looking for – including rear vision – you make a judgment call as to what offers the most value and doesn’t.”

Two different side airbags were developed for use in the front compartment of the FG Falcon, but none for the rear. When curtain airbags are specified, a thorax airbag is used. When curtain airbags are not specified, the front side airbags are designed to inflate to protect the head region as well.

“When you specify a curtain airbag, you get a thorax bag, which is a bag which doesn’t cover the head region but offers you extra protection around your thorax,” Mr Worthington said. “The base car has a head-protecting side airbag which blows up to offer you head protection.”

Overall, Mr Worthington said the FG represents significant improvements in terms of corporate, legal and customer expectations – in areas of both passive (body structure, airbags) and active safety (dynamic performance etc).

“In every area of the car, whether it be body structure, or passive or active safety, we have over-delivered versus those requirements,” he said. “The mix of technology that is in this car is second to none … and we’ve changed the car where we’ve needed to.

“One of the reasons that the car is longer is that we’ve improved the pedestrian protection for this car, and part of that is ensuring that you’ve got the right overhang and the right interface with knees.”

While electronic is said to be standard across the FG sedan range, the life-saving safety technology is in fact unavailable on Falcons fitted with the E-Gas engine.

“We have it in our plans to go to a new level of technology that will make that feature available, but it won’t be available certainly in the foreseeable future,” Mr Worthington said.

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