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FPV may toy with idea of F6 Territory

Tantalising turbo: Ford's new Territory turbo could provide an FPV offspring.

Hot hatch off the FPV radar but a hi-po Territory could be the next step

30 Mar 2006

SMALL cars will stay off the agenda for the next managing director of Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV), but a turbocharged F6 Territory remains the Ford Australia performance division’s "next logical step".

The man behind the recent F6 Typhoon-based Drift6 concept car this week told GoAuto that FPV’s future model strategy would not stray far from its current product portfolio under the leadership of a replacement for outgoing chief David Flint.

"Part of the key criteria for any FPV vehicle is that it requires FPV DNA," said FPV spokesman Andrew MacLean. "Different people will bring different things to the business, but I don’t think the philosophy will change in the fact that we want to have more DNA in our vehicles than just a new badge." Next month Ford Australia will launch the hottest Focus ever officially sold in Australia in the 166kW/320Nm turbocharged XR5. Based on the European Focus ST and priced at $35,990, the hot new Focus will be a direct rival for HSV’s slightly more powerful (and more expensive) Astra OPC-based VXR hatch, which also goes on sale this year.

But distribution problems and the lack of an even-higher-performing Focus variant means FPV will not follow arch-rival HSV into the hot hatch arena any time soon.

"The Focus program is difficult as we’d have to import a fully-built car, ditch the things that we don’t want and build the bits that we do – and that makes it a very costly exercise," Mr MacLean said.

"If there’s anything new from Europe above ST then it’s still a couple of years away, and then we’d have to put our engineering stamp on it. There’s also the problem of distribution logistics because Focus is imported into multi-ports around Australia." Ford Australia used last month’s Melbourne International Motor Show to reveal the 245kW/480Nm Territory Turbo range it will release around June, and Mr MacLean confirmed a more powerful version was under consideration by FPV.

"That’s probably the next logical step given the difficulty of adding a small car and the fact it’s a locally built product and therefore easier for us to do," he said.

"But there’s a law of diminishing returns in that market. They haven’t announced a price for the Territory Turbo Ghia – which is obviously the flagship model that we’d base ours on – but how far above that do we have to go to make a return on our vehicle.

"If that’s a $70,000-odd Ford, how many people will pay $85,000 or so for the FPV version and what would we have to do to satisfy that market?

19 center imageLeft: XR5 Turbo

"That’s what we’re trying to ascertain at the moment. While there’s no doubt that it would be an exciting product and that there would be a small number of people out there, whether that small number of people actually justifies the investment that is required to do it is the other thing." Mr MacLean said that despite record sales in January and February and what is expected to be an all-time sales record in March (thanks largely to the availability of a six-speed auto-equipped F6 Typhoon), FPV will not rest on the laurels of its large-car models during 2006 – a year that will see Holden and HSV launch all-new short- and long-wheelbase sedans.

"Obviously there’ll be VE this year which we can’t ignore, but having said that we won’t deviate far from where we are today but we won’t stand still either.

"I’m obviously not going to divulge all our plans here and now because we’re in a fairly strong position at the moment. All our products are going very well and we don’t want to stress the market by saying that we need to do this or that now.

"I won’t say there will be anything startlingly new (in 2006), but there might be some revisions."

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