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Ford unveils upgraded Falcon MkII range

Visual tweaks: The Falcon Ghia gains a reprofiled bonnet, bumpers and headlights.

Ford has kicked into gear with its facelifted BF Falcon MkII, on sale in October

11 Aug 2006

FORD has fired its first salvo across the bows of the VE Commodore – the BF MkII Falcon – which goes on sale in October.

Although pricing and specifications will not be announced until late next month, the BF MkII gains some minor visual tweaks to headlights, bumpers and grilles, plus the addition of the six-speed ZF automatic and dynamic stability control across the range.

However, the six-speed auto and DSC will both be optional, with the DSC system to be part of an optional sports pack that includes the six-speed auto, sports suspension and 17-inch alloys.

This is expected to cost between $2500 and $3000, meaning a Falcon XT with the sports pack could be priced around $38,500.

Ford is closely watching Holden’s roll-back pricing strategy on VE before it commits to Falcon prices, which suggests there may be some flexibility in the new car’s price points.

However, one senior Ford executive said prices "will be competitive".

Most significant are the fuel economy improvements across the range. Ford is driving home these improvements as real-world gains.

With Holden’s Commodore gaining the lion’s share of exposure recently, Ford chief, Tom Gorman, said he believe that Holden had not listened to customers "as well as we have when it comes to fuel economy and I think that could be the Achilles heel for them".

He conceded that the VE Commodore had made some significant chassis improvements but "quite honestly they had too to catch up to us".

"Nothing that they’ve put in front of use, number one, surprises us and, number two, scares us."Although welcoming the new Holden, Mr Gorman said Ford did not build its business "around the failure of our competitors".

27 center image"We actually assume that our competitors are going to be successful and then we try to beat them in the marketplace by being better than them."Despite the MkII improvements, Mr Gorman, said he did not think it would lead a dramatic growth in Ford’s large car market share.

"There’s no question that the market in the fourth quarter is going to become a lot more competitive," he said.

"So for me to say we’re going to grow that share of segment I think would be somewhat naïve."Mr Gorman said the MkII strategy was not "a hold on strategy in that we’re just going to hang on for dear life".

"We think we have a very competitive offering with the BF MkII.

"I think the reality is we face some stiff competition and we don’t anticipate growing our share of segment, but we anticipate being very, very solid in the segment from where we are today."Ford claims a Falcon XT equipped with the six-speed auto can expect a fuel economy improvement of 6 per cent over the standard four-speed auto, which means and ADR 81/01 test figure of 10.2L/100km.

However, four-speed MkII XT, Futura and Fairmont sedan models also benefit from fuel economy gains of 2 per cent - from 10.9L/100km down to 10.7L/100km - through a range of drivetrain efficiencies.

Ford says MkII was effectively the next step in the evolution of the Falcon brand.

But the facelift is expected to be the first of a range of Falcon marketing pushes to sustain the brand until the next-generation Falcon arrives in March 2008.

Mr Gorman, said the extensive engineering program undertaken with the BF Falcon delivered significant gains in fuel economy and refinement, as well as more useable performance from our Barra 190 six-cylinder engine.

Engine power and torque figures will remain the same in the MkII, delivering 190kW at 5250rpm and 383Nm at 2500rpm, versus the VE Commodore Omega’s 180kW at 6000rpm and 330Nm at 2600rpm.

The latest improvements to the MkII range "deliver greater real world benefits to Falcon owners", he said.

In the past two years Mr Gorman said that Ford had delivered a 7 per cent improvement in fuel economy on the Falcon XT.

The availability of the six-speed automatic on the Falcon XT MkII “has taken the level of improvement even further, to more than 11 per cent”, he said.

"The six-speed automatic transmission has proven to be a standout feature of the BF Falcon, especially for its ability to deliver a tailored driving experience for customers," Mr Gorman said.

"Not only does it reward a sporty driving style with livelier performance and sharper responses, but it also delivers significant benefits in terms of reduced fuel consumption and greater refinement, with smoother shift quality a notable feature during everyday use."Ford’s process of continual refinement for its engines has deliveredimproved transmission thermal management – faster warm-up and reduced friction losses that allow the six to reach optimum efficiency earlier, which Ford says improve fuel consumption during cold starts and on short trips (a common usage pattern for many drivers).

Engineers have also revised powertrain control module (PCM) calibrations in line with the optimised transmission thermal management.

Apart from DSC and the six-speed automatic, the MkII has a range of minor exterior design changes and some interior upgrades.

Visually changes to the front bumper design have also delivered improved aerodynamic performance.

The Fairmont Ghia gains a new "European-inspired" sports luxury exterior look, with a dark accent on the headlights, tapered bonnet, chrome grille, jewelled fog lights and front bumper finishes, and new seven-spoke 17-inch sports alloys.

An exposed chrome exhaust, XR-style side skirts and rear bumper, and contemporary block font "Ghia" badging complete the distinctive Fairmont Ghia package.

Inside, the BF MkII Fairmont Ghia gains a black chrome instrument cluster, chrome air vent highlights and black onyx Interior Command Centre similar to the Territory Turbo, as well as China Beige leather seat trim, suede feel seat backs and door trims, and new front seat headrests.

Fairmont, Futura and Falcon XT, Ute XL, XLS and RTV also receive modest upgrades.

All feature a new tapered bonnet, aggressive front bumper design and new headlight treatments, along with revised rear bumpers on sedans.

BF MkII XR and Ute XR models get new "Chicane" metallic yarn seat trim, new instrument cluster design and satin alloy inserts in the instrument panel.

Five new exterior colours will be available, including two new hero colours.

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