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Exclusive: Next Ford Taurus spied in Australia

Out and about: Ford’s next-generation Taurus large car was spotted by GoAuto near Ford Australia’s You Yangs proving ground.

Secret seventh-generation Taurus gets an engineering pull-through by Ford Australia

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Ford logo12 Aug 2014

THE Ford Falcon will not be the last large sedan to go through the Ford Australia engineering mill after all, as these exclusive pictures of a next-generation Ford family car – believed to be the all-new North American Taurus – can attest.

The heavily disguised development car was snapped by GoAuto while in transit on public roads from Ford Australia’s You Yangs proving ground to its product engineering centre in Geelong in Victoria.

It is thought to be the first time the seventh-generation Taurus has been caught on camera anywhere in the world, even though the car is little more than a year out from launch in the United States and Canada where it will be billed as a 2016 model.

Despite the camouflage, we can see the new Ford family trapezoidal grille, door-mounted exterior mirrors, straight beltline to the C-pillar, twin exhaust pipe outlets – minus their decorative chrome tips – and other giveaways that this is the replacement for the Taurus that was once America’s top-selling car.

In the flesh, the vehicle is undoubtedly large, perhaps 1900mm at the mirror tips, which would make it broader than the locally built Falcon (1868mm).

But Aussie Falcon fans should not get too excited – the American front-wheel-drive sedan is unlikely to replace the Falcon when the latter goes out of production in 2016 in Australia, where the Blue Oval brand has all but officially confirmed that the new-generation European-built Mondeo – due here in early 2015 – will be as big as it gets in the sedan range once the local hero departs.

As the Taurus’ development ‘homeroom’ is at Ford’s Dearborn technical centre in Detroit, the Taurus seen here is likely to be part of a global large-car development program that could include a variant for China.

GoAuto understands Ford has ditched the current Taurus’ heavy Volvo S80-derived platform – known as the D4, which dates back to a Volvo ‘P2’ platform launched in 1998 – in favour of its new, lighter CD4 modular architecture that is spawning a raft of new Ford and Lincoln models, including the Mondeo/Fusion mid-size twins, the Ford Edge SUV, Lincoln MKX SUV, Lincoln MKZ mid-sizer and the next Lincoln MKS large car.

As GoAuto revealed exclusively in May, Ford Australia’s engineers have been testing a Fusion-based ‘Frankenstein’ development car that our sources suggest is equipped with a Lincoln MKS rear suspension that, because it is wider than the standard Fusion rear end, requires flared wheelarches.

As well, a current Taurus – in bright red paint – has been spotted in recent months going through its paces at the You Yangs test facility, possibly in engineering benchmarking tests ahead of a new-car development project.

The local Fusion/MKS and Taurus projects might be related, although Ford, as always, will not disclose what is underway in its secret future-model realm.

Ford Australia brand communications manager Neil McDonald said the company was in the middle of one of its busiest launch programs ever, bringing new cars such as the Mustang and Mondeo to market.

“However, we cannot comment on future products that have not already been revealed, even though there is much more on the way,” he saidFord Australia’s 1500 engineers have been working flat out in recent times, with at least seven new-model programs underway simultaneously.

These include imminent facelifts for the locally made Falcon and Territory – a last hurrah for these models before they go out of production in late 2016 – along with the Ranger-based, Thai-built Everest SUV due later this year, a Ranger facelift, the Focus-based Escort budget small car for China and calibration work for Ford of Europe on the latest Transit van.

The new Taurus reportedly will be much lighter than the current two-tonne model in a bid to improve both performance and fuel economy.

US publication Edmunds says the Taurus engineering team’s focus has been on “light-weighting” – using materials such as aluminium and high-strength steel to reduce mass.

As well, the Taurus is expected to get a nine-speed automatic transmission and an all-EcoBoost turbocharged engine range to help improve fuel efficiency.

The CD4 platform will be lengthened and widened to accommodate the bigger Taurus and its Lincoln luxury offshoot, the MKS large car.

Edmunds says the new MKS will not be sold in China. Instead, an unspecified new Lincoln flagship will go on sale in 2018.

In typical Chinese fashion, this car is likely to be set on a stretched long-wheelbase version of the CD4 platform for extra legroom in the back seat for chauffeur-driven commuters.

As Ford Australia has a track record of developing special models for such developing markets – including the Figo for India and Escort for China – there is a chance that the local designers and engineers have a hand in such a project, perhaps as a replacement for the current Everest project that is coming to an end.

Ford’s global design vice-president Moray Callum recently described the Melbourne-based Asia-Pacific design studio as “Ford’s conduit to China”, raising speculation that more China-only models are in the pipeline for the Australian team.

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.