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Strong appeal to AV Falcon

Design worth: Simon Butterworth with a computer generated image of the AV Falcon. Graphic: NORM ROBINSON

Ford design director Simon Butterworth says the AV Falcon will be an elegant car

Ford logo20 Aug 2001

FORD Australia's new design director Simon Butterworth promises the AV Falcon - due late next year - "won't polarise opinion" like its AU predecessor.

"The new Falcon won't be a radical design, but it will be an elegant, well-resolved car," the former Jaguar styling guru said.

"In terms of design language, it will have a more European feel than the current car, but it will be tailored for the Australian market.

"The overall changes are subtle, but a few tweaks here and there have made a huge difference. I was able to build on what Scott Strong started." Mr Butterworth was transferred to Ford Australia from Jaguar six months ago after former design director Mr Strong was called back to the US.

Ford Australia president Geoff Polites said: "When Ford US called Scott back, we thought 'Oh, no, what bad timing'. But it turned out to be perfect timing as it enabled a fresh set of eyes to tackle the project." Mr Butterworth said he "did not want to bring Jaguar DNA into Ford Australia".

"Ford DNA is symbolised by the front-end styling of the new Ford Mondeo. A lot of surface language of that car also has Ford DNA," he said.

"The way it looks suggests it handles well. If your car looks like it will go well and then delivers on that then customers will come back." Mr Butterworth said Ford Australia had done enough research to "determine key attributes" to ensure it does not end up with another AU.

"We need to look at everything Ford's done and learn lessons from that," he said.

Despite its lacklustre sales performance, Mr Butterworth believes the AU II "is a strong car visually".

"I have a Fairmont Ghia with Tickford wheels and I think it looks tough," he said.

"The changes we have made (for AV) are subtle. All we have done is a few tweaks to make it look tougher and improve its stance on the road.

"The base model should look good enough so that the guy who's driving the range-topper won't feel embarrassed that it's the same lineage.

"The proportions - where you put the volumes - and its stance are very important." As for the interior, Mr Butterworth said the focus was on refinement and creating a quality ambience.

"If the exterior doesn't look good then you've lost the buyer, but a good interior is part of the reason why you buy the car again," he said.

"You spend more time designing the interior than the exterior because of all the details".

Mr Butterworth is guarded in his praise of the VT and VX Commodores, which have swept all before them in the sales race.

"The Commodore has some fine attributes as well as some that are quite dated," he said. "It's got good road presence." "The Omega - which is what Commodore is - is a European car. It (Commodore) just has more size. But the Commodore and Falcon are still uniquely Australian cars."

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