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Walkinshaw goes Ford
Ford Kuga to get go-fast bits from Walkinshaw Performance – and more to come
6 Feb 2013
WALKINSHAW Performance – the name synonymous with hot Holdens in Australia – has branched out into performance packs for other brands, starting with Ford’s Kuga compact SUV.
And the Melbourne-based company has confided it is just weeks away from announcing more such enhancement packs for vehicles from other brands.
The parts are made by German supplier Irmscher under an exclusive Australian distribution deal with WP, whose sister company, Holden Special Vehicles, is Holden’s official performance car builder. Another related company, Walkinshaw Racing, runs the official Holden Racing Team in V8 Supercars.
Founded in 2006 by former British racing champion and businessman Tom Walkinshaw who died in 2010, WP cut its teeth making unofficial go-fast bits for Holden’s Commodore, including supercharger kits for the 6.0-litre Gen IV V8.
More recently, it has branched out into enhancement kits for Holden’s Barina, Captiva and Cruze, using accessories designed and made by Irmscher for the Chevrolet equivalents but now sold in Australia for Holden cars under the WP by Irmscher banner.
Now, in an arrangement that has raised eyebrows at Ford Australia headquarters in Broadmeadows, WP has imported 80 styling packs for the current (and soon to be superseded) Ford Kuga and to be sold and fitted by selected Ford dealers.
WP general manager Tony Harris said some people would be surprised at the decision to offer products for a Ford.
“For Walkinshaw Performance, it makes perfect sense,” he said.
Mr Harris said Irmscher had worked with Ford in Germany to develop the products to OEM (original equipment manufacturer) standards, “very much the Walkinshaw Performance way as well”.
He said WP had had tremendous success with its Holden Captiva packs, putting “the sport back into the SUV segment”.
“We are excited to be able to bring the same energy and excitement to the Ford Kuga,” he said.
Ford Australia communications and public affairs director Sinead Phipps confirmed that the kits had nothing to do with Ford Australia, but a Victorian Ford dealer had supplied the Kuga for the first kit to be trialed.
Ford has just taken over its own official hot shop and direct rival for HSV – Ford Performance Vehicles – after buying the enterprise from UK-based Prodrive.
The Irmscher pack for Kuga – costing $5750 for the full fitted kit – includes 20-inch alloy wheels with Toyo 245/45/R20 tyres, polished sidesteps, a lowering kit that drops the vehicle 40mm and an “Irmscher Dynamic Throttle Response Module”.
WP says the kit dramatically improves the ride and handling of the vehicle as well as improving throttle dynamics through reduced response times.
The kit will be fitted only by Ford dealers and accompanied by “balance of new-car warranty”.
The Kuga is the first non-Holden to get the WP treatment, but won’t be the last.
In Europe, Irmscher supplies styling packs for Opel, Peugeot and Chevrolet brands, indicating that Opel and Peugeot might be next on the list.
Opel models such as the Corsa, Astra, Insignia and Mokka might be likely candidates, given Opel and its sister company, Vauxhall, are Irmscher’s biggest target in Europe and Britain.
Irmscher also markets a range of products for American General Motors brands Buick and Cadillac.
In Australia, WP is working in-house on a Walkinshaw Edition pack for the VE Commodore as it runs out this year. The VE will be replaced by the VF in June.
In the UK, Walkinshaw companies have long been associated with a wide range of brands, including Volvo.
WP national business development manager Andrew Riley said the company was extremely proud of its Australian heritage.
“We will always continue to support our loyal and passionate customers in any way we can,” he said.
“We offer our customers the opportunity to put some of their personality into their vehicle through our unique range of products and services.” WP says it is “currently working on a number of opportunities with other manufacturers.”
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