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Sydney show: Laser lights the way for Ford

Laser landing: The Ford Laser R arrives in Australia in March.

The limited edition Laser R is Ford's first step in bringing the Laser back into the spotlight

16 Nov 2000

FORD has given a hint of its plans to ramp up the sporty image of the Laser sedan and hatchback compact car range with the launch of the limited edition $20,990 Laser R at the Sydney motor show.

With the demise of the Festiva entry level car and the narrow focus of the three-door only, manual-only Ka, Ford Australia has no choice but to thrust the Laser back into the spotlight.

The R is the first step, a 2.0-litre Laser arrives in March and there are also plans underway for a hot version developed in conjunction with Tickford Vehicle Engineering.

"Somewhere down the road you can expect to see those sorts of things (a Tickford Laser)," said Ford Australia president Geoff Polites.

Laser volumes are disappointingly small at the moment, with around 1000 being sold in October despite a $18,990 driveaway deal.

The Holden Astra doubled it in sales while the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Pulsar were even further ahead.

"The last two or three years we've not really done much with the Laser brand," said Mr Polites.

"By contrast, Holden has done very well with Astra." Laser R has a full body kit including front air dam, rear bumper extensions, high-mounted spoilers, rocker mouldings, front mesh bumper inserts and R decals.

A large bore chrome tip exhaust and 15-inch alloy wheels complete the exterior package.

A six-stack CD player is added to the Laser's interior package.

Another indicator at the Sydney motor show of Ford's desire to give Laser a stronger image came in the shape of the Laser Panther, a concept car created by Ford Racing's engineers based on a 1.8 GLXi.

Engine enhancements include equal length extractor exhaust manifold, a two-inch sports exhaust pipe and muffler system, reground camshafts and a Unichip engine control unit.

A short throw gearshift linkage and limited slip differential have been added, while the braking system has larger diameter front rotors, nickel-plated twin piston front callipers and a revised master cylinder and proportioning valve.

The new suspension includes Eibach springs with a revised rate and height, Koni shock absorbers and uprated front and rear stabilisers.

Momo 17-inch wheels complete the package.

Exterior styling highlights include special metallic black paint, front and rear perforated aluminum grilles and tinted windows and lamps.

Inside there are special sports seats, retrimmed door panels, a Momo steering wheel, Momo aluminum gear knob, Momo pedal covers, nickel-plated door handles, steering wheel accents, a premium soundproof package, carpeted rear hatch and Ford premium sound system.

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