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First look: inside Falcon

Cockpit-like: The BA Falcon interior combines craftsmanship with contemporary styling cues.

Ford says Barra Falcon's all-new interior is among the best in the world

Ford logo9 Sep 2002

By MARTON PETTENDY

FALCON buyers will be treated to a comprehensively overhauled, stylish and ergonomically superior new interior when the BA Falcon is rolled into dealer showrooms in October.

Replacing the unloved, oval-themed AU Falcon interior with a crisp, clean, cockpit-style driving environment that's reminiscent of Audi, the all-new interior features tactile push-buttons, a number of new features and equipment, and a fully revised driving position.

Revealed to the motoring media last week as the final instalment in Ford's controlled release of BA Falcon information, the new interior is said to set new standards for the Australian automotive industry.

Having openly stated the new Falcon interior aspired to BMW-like levels of design and refinement, senior Ford officials now say the Barra interior is among the best in the world.

"The exterior always takes the limelight and it's got to in some ways because it's the thing that draws you to the vehicle in the first place, but it's really the interior which cements the purchase choice because it's the thing that you live with every single day. It's such an undervalued element of the car," said Ford Australia design director Simon Butterworth.

"What we tried to do is really enforce what the exterior's already telling you. With the interior we want to capture the exterior's dynamic qualities but with elegance and with a contemporary and aspirational feel. The car in terms of design was set around the driver. For example the window controls are on the door where you need them ...

"In terms of the design, the contemporary surface language, I think that this is a real step for the Australian marketplace. This design, I really do believe, sets new standards. This design is probably the best design of an interior to come out of Australia - and I actually put it, amongst the studios of the world, as one of the best out of any studio in the world.

"I'm talking about the basic intent, the fact the designers considered the way this was going to be built, so craftsmanship levels were the best we could achieve. That's done at an early stage by a team working together with all of the functions and designs taking that on board at a very early stage in the program."The new BA Falcon interior, development of which was led by interior design manager Marcus Hotblack, is dominated by the metallic-look central Interior Command Centre. ICC features a large LCD screen (high series Falcon gets a laptop-quality, full-colour TFT display) operated by a row of tactile, multi-function piano-style keys, the functions of which vary according to the mode selected.

There's also newly designed, more tactile window switches, door pockets big enough to accommodate a street directory, a multi-function steering wheel with brialle, rubberised air vent controls and new instrument background colours, including green for XT and Futura models, white for premium models and blue for XR.

The entry level Falcon XT will come standard with a four-way power driver's seat adjustment plus lumbar, twin front airbags, variable intermittent wipers, a 100-watt single-CD audio, more efficient air-conditioning, trip computer, tissue box holder, knitted velour seat fabric, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, front power windows, steering wheel audio controls, illuminated glovebox, anti-lock brakes and remote central locking.

"The XT, although an entry level model, we wanted to be a vehicle that was true to the Falcon brand," said Mr Butterworth.

"The XT is a no-excuses premium level vehicle that is going to set new standards most definitely in this segment."For models further upstream there's side airbags, a new electronic twin-zone climate control system with pollen filter and 14-speed fan, an analogue clock, six-way power driver's seat adjustment with memory, power adjustable pedals, illuminated vanity mirrors, front door courtesy lights and reverse parking sensors.

But the BA Falcon comprises much more than a revised, Euro-look dashboard - it also features all-new proportions. The entire centre console is now angled six degrees toward the driver to perpetuate the cockpit-style theme, and it's also 40mm closer to the driver than before.

The instrument binnacle is more open and the steering column stalks are longer, higher and closer to the driver. The Euro-style headlight switch has been replaced by a Japanese-style indicator stalk-mounted item.

Reach to the gearshift - a problem for short drivers with AU Falcon - has been reduced by 30mm, while the front seats have been moved inboard by 12mm to accommodate side airbag deployment, provide greater shoulder room, allow access to the power seat switches and improve vision around the A-pillar. Front seat travel has also increased by 12mm in both directions, while driver's seat height adjustment range is up 10mm to 50mm.

It is believed Holden's facelifted VY Commodore will also feature a revised interior with new features when it goes on sale later this month, but whether The General goes to the same lengths as Ford has with its $500 million Barra Falcon upgrade remains to be seen.

Ford president Geoff Polites said the clean-slate approach allowed Ford to set clear interior design targets very early in Barra's development phase.

"We've adopted a very different strategy with the interior of BA. Basically we set out to create a truly aspirational XT and then build up from there," Mr Polites said.

"In terms of showroom appeal, I think that our customers are going to be blown away by the absolute quality levels of this interior.

"We've made craftsmanship one of our major priorities with this new model and that's meant paying a lot of attention to the look and feel of the interior. We've also spent a lot of time making sure all the controls are intuitive and fall easily to hand - and the results are truly outstanding."

WHAT YOU GET:

BA Falcon XT
Barra 182 engine
Control Blade IRS
Five-speed manual transmission
16-inch steel wheels
On-glass antenna
Side skirts
Roadside assistanceBA Futura
As per XT plus:
Sequential Sports Shift auto
16-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured rub strips
Body coloured mirrors
Cruise control
Front and rear power windows
Front passenger lumbar adjustment
Rear grab handles
Rear reading lights
Centre rear armrest
Rear cupholdersBA Fairmont
As per Futura plus:
Full chrome and grey mesh grille
Prestige Interior Command Centre
Prestige six-CD in-dash audio
Dual-zone climate control
Woodgrain inserts
Overhead console
Velour seat fabric
Leather steering wheel
Footwell illumination
Auto headlights on/off
Dual horns
Traction controlBA Fairmont Ghia
As per Fairmont plus:
Premium Interior Command Centre
Premium six-CD in-dash audio
Leather park brake handle
Memory power driver's seat and mirrors
Six-way driver's seat adjustment
Power adjustable pedals
Leather gear lever
Illuminated vanity mirrors
Luggage net
Front door courtesy lights
17-inch alloy wheels
Sports Control Blade IRS
Reverse parking sensors
Side airbags
Driving lightsFalcon XR6
As per XT plus:
17-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured rub strips
Body coloured mirrors
XR bodykit
XR driving lights
Sports instruments
Cruise control
XR leather steering wheel
Cloth trimmed sports seats
Passenger lumbar adjustment
Sports Control Blade IRSFalcon XR6 Turbo
As per XR6 plus:
Barra 240T turbo engine
Rear power windows
Rear grab handles
Limited slip differential
Traction control

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