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Shanghai show: Ford unveils Aussie-designed Taurus

Bull run: The exterior of Ford's new Taurus was penned by Ford Asia-Pacific's Australian-born design director Todd Willing.

Ford draws on Australian large-car expertise to bring new Taurus to China

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Ford logo19 Apr 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

AUSTRALIANS were in the spotlight when Ford ripped the covers from its new China-specific Ford Taurus at a pre-Shanghai motor show media event at the weekend.

Designed by Australian Todd Willing and put through its engineering development paces at Ford Asia-Pacific's Victorian engineering centres in Australia as part of an international effort, this particular new Taurus will be pitched at well-heeled Chinese corporate types as the large-car flagship of the Blue Oval range in the world's biggest motor market from the second half of this year.

It is the second car that Ford's Australian operation has helped mastermind for Ford Motor China, following on from its successful development of the Focus-based Escort small car that was shown at the same motor show two years ago and launched into showrooms last year.

The new Taurus came to public light when GoAuto snapped a pair of disguised test mules last year driving between Ford Australia's You Yangs proving ground at its engineering centre at Geelong.

Ford Motor China chairman and CEO John Lawler alluded to the Aussie input when he said the vehicle showed the “amazing strength and flexibility of our One Ford plan”.

“It combines the best of our global product development and large-car expertise with a clear understanding of what Chinese customers in this segment want,” he said.

Although Australians played a major role in the global collaborative effort to bring the Chinese Taurus to fruition, it will not be sold Down Under, nor in the United States, which is expected to get its own version in 2016.

With its luxury appointments and emphasis on back-seat comfort – including power reclining rear seats with a massage function for the first time in a Ford in China – the big sedan will go into bat against the likes of Audi's A6 which is China's long-time number-one luxury car.

The Taurus will not only be sold in China for the first time but also built there in a new $760 million plant run by the Changan Ford Automobile joint-venture company headed by former Ford Australia managing director Marin Burela, who was also on hand last night to introduce the vehicle.

“The Ford Taurus was created for highly sophisticated consumers in China who need an equally sophisticated vehicle for both business and personal use,” Mr Burela said.

“With a powerful, confident and inviting design, a spacious and elegant interior, impeccable craftsmanship, compelling performance and advanced technology, the Ford Taurus makes no compromises as an innovative flagship sedan.”

Hobart-born Ford Asia-Pacific design director Todd Willing – best known for penning the Ford GT supercar – was responsible for the Taurus's exterior design that has a strong family resemblance to other Ford family cars such as the new Mondeo just launched in Australia.

“We wanted to create a vehicle that displays a maturity of design with balanced and harmonious proportions, tailored to the business customer in China,” he said. “Our aim was to create a vehicle that is elegant, inviting and quietly confident.”

A big car – five metres long – sitting on hefty 19-inch alloy wheels, the Taurus will be powered by a 242kW/475Nm twin-turbo version of Ford's EcoBoost V6 delivering “effortless performance”.

The front-wheel-drive Taurus sits on a 2950mm wheelbase – a substantial 83mm longer than the span of the current North American Taurus that was criticised for its lack of cabin space when it was introduced in 2010.

Chinese media is reporting that the Taurus will be built using a new global platform.

Ford describes the Chinese Taurus as “exceptionally roomy”, with extra hip and headroom too.

The cabin is lined with soft-touch leather and the bright chrome loved by Chinese customers. A twin-panel sunroof extends over the back seat, with the front panel sliding above the rear panel when opened, affording more rear headroom.

Although the Taurus is a five-seater, with room for three across the back seat, the 40/20/40 layout is really designed for two passengers in “business-class comfort” that includes a fold-down centre seat cushion that reveals a rear-seat control panel for air-conditioning, seat functions and car media.

The chassis emphasis was on a comfortable ride. Plenty of sound-deadening materials were added to enhance the ambience.

The new Taurus will be publicly revealed on Monday at the Shanghai motor show where Ford is also introducing the new Focus range and Explorer SUV.

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