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Falcon XR8 roars into life, end of the road for FPV

Roar feelings: The return of the XR8 badge also spells the end of Ford Performance Vehicles.

Return of iconic XR8 badge spells the end for Ford’s go-fast division


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11 Nov 2013

UPDATED: 12/11/2013AN ICONIC V8 will soon roar beneath the bonnet of the Australian-made Ford Falcon, with the car-maker confirming today the engine will make a short-lived comeback to the regular range.

However, while the Falcon regains a faithful companion that will please the legion of Ford fans who have long asked for a return of the XR8, the V8 growl will also sound the end of the Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) brand and the iconic GT nameplate, which will “retire” next year, according to a statement released late today.

The introduction of the V8-engined Falcon late next year – using the same supercharged 5.0-litre unit as the heavily reworked FPV range – will coincide with the release of the final, facelifted versions of the Falcon sedan and ute range, and the locally made Territory SUV, ahead of the car-maker’s planned October 2016 shutdown of Australian manufacturing.

Ford has not sold a V8-engined version of the Falcon since 2010, when the introduction of stricter emissions laws made the normally aspirated V8 redundant.

Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Sinead Phipps said the move to replace the FPV range with a Falcon badge would get the V8-engined passenger car into dealerships throughout Australia.

“We’ve actually had a lot of people ask us to bring it back from the time we didn’t have it as part of the Euro 4 program in 2010, and even more since we announced what was happening with manufacturing – a lot of people wanted us to bring the XR8 back,” she said.

“It’s sort of to celebrate the end of V8 local production.”

Known as the Miami engine, the huffed unit was developed under former majority stakeholder Prodrive, which handed over full control of FPV to Ford Australia at the end of last year.

It combines a US-sourced all-aluminium 5.0-litre ‘Coyote’ engine with a mechanically driven supercharger fitted between the V8’s cylinder banks.

The Falcon XR8 will sell as a single model, with Ford remaining coy on performance figures until closer to the new Falcon range’s launch date late next year.

The current GT produces 335kW of power at 5750rpm and 570Nm of torque from 2200-5500rpm.

Ms Phipps said the plan was to sell the XR8 as a money maker for the brand.

“We wouldn’t do it at all if we didn’t think there was an interest in it and that it wouldn’t generate money,” she said.

“One of the advantages with the sale of XR8 versus the sale of the GT, for example, is that we can actually sell it through every Ford dealer throughout Australia rather than just a subset.

“So that makes it easier for people to buy it.”

Ford is also remaining tight-lipped over how many sales the XR8 is likely to snare for the brand.

However, V8-engined versions of the Holden Commodore are still selling strongly, and last year the FPV range accounted for about 12 per cent of total Falcon sales.

“Obviously we’ve had a V8 in the FPV range since the XR8 went away, but we think really finishing off with a Falcon V8 is the way to go,” Ms Phipps said.

Ford has flagged that it has planned “a series of actions” next year to “ensure the final FPV models celebrate the brand’s iconic status”.

“FPV has been very successful for the last 12 years and our relationship with Tickford for many years before that,” said Ford Australia vice-president of marketing, sales and service, Graeme Whickman.

“We appreciate all of the great team members, dealers, customers and fans who have supported FPV through its history.

“We look forward to sharing further details of the final FPV models and the new XR8 over the coming months.”

The beginning of the end for FPV was signalled back in August last year when Ford announced its intention to bring FPV in-house, signing a memorandum of understanding to buy the remaining 51 per cent stake in the business from Prodrive.

Ford officially took ownership of the assets required to engineer, manufacture and market FPV at the end of 2012, but has largely manned its new sub-assembly area with staff from its main assembly line, rather than previous FPV workers.

Between 1967 and 1976, Ford’s plant at Broadmeadows in Victoria produced almost 12,000 GTs, including all four phases of the legendary Bathurst-winning GTHO.

Ford has contacted its customers to communicate news of FPV's closure, with an email saying the company will “stand behind” FPV buyers by offering service, parts and support for “many years to come”.

The email goes on to say that FPV invites its customers to be part of its “future performance journey” highlighting models such as the recently launched Fiesta ST and the forthcoming Mustang.

Ironically, Ford has financially backed the Ford Performance Racing team until 2016.

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