Next year, 2012, could well be a watershed year for Ford Australia.
With the powerful new Ranger, the all-new Focus, class-leading Territory, Fiesta, sublime MC Mondeo, new FG Falcon MkII with EcoBoost option, updated Transit Van and Kuga SUV, never before - that's "never" - have Ford dealers had such a strong model line-up in their showrooms.
Expanded Ranger Line-up
The thumping 4X4 Duel-cab Ranger line-up will be expanded with 4X2, single-cab and supercab ranges.
The 'tough-truck' Wildtrack is also arriving to sit at the top of the tree.
The expanded Ranger engine line-up will include 2.5-litre petrol and 2.2-litre turbo diesel engines to complement the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel in the Dual-cab.
New Kuga Compact SUV
A little further down the food chain, there is a new compact SUV arriving in March next year, the Kuga, as a replacement for the slow-selling (and somewhat underwhelming) Escape.
Sitting on the Escape's platform, but with Ford's new body styling, five-speed automatic, an intelligent Haldex all-wheel drive system and a 2.5-litre Duratec turbo petrol engine 147kW and 320Nm to push things along, the new model promises to be a lively drive.
New Focus ST Sports Hatch
Also new, and expected late in 2012, is the Focus ST sports hatch.
Powered by a 2.0-litre Ford EcoBoost engine, the ST will be equipped with Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control (ETVC), 18-inch alloys, subtle body kit with rear spoiler, upgraded sports suspension and Recaro sports seats.
Further news on the Focus: its manufacture will move from Ford’s Saarlouis plant in Germany to Ford's Rayong plant Thailand in 2012.
But the big-ticket-item for Ford Australia will be the FG Falcon MkII range. With sharp frontal styling - carrying the 'family-look' of the Territory - and with driveline and handling and feature refinements, and a host of new features, FG MkII will revitalise the Falcon range.
FG Falcon MkII EcoBoost
The biggest news is the 2.0 litre turbo four-cylinder EcoBoost as an option under Falcon XT, G6 and G6E bonnets. Three years of local development in the making, it is the first time this engine has appeared anywhere in the Ford global line-up in a rear-wheel-drive car.
We drove it. Equipped with direct petrol injection, turbo, twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) and six-speed ZF automatic transmission, we were surprised by its lively response and strong pulling power.
“This technology will provide Falcon customers with even more choice and complement our excellent in-line six cylinder engines,” Ford Australia President, Bob Graziano said.
EcoBoost technology will be available in the Falcon XT, G6 and G6E models, offering an optimum balance between fuel efficiency and power. Details of the FG Falcon EcoBoost’s power and torque will be available closer to launch in the second quarter of 2012.
Ford's global strategy is to have more than 80 percent of its global model range to be available with EcoBoost by 2013 - part of a broader strategy to provide high-volume, affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles in Ford showrooms.
FG Falcon MkII
Aside from driveline and safety enhancements, the new FG Falcon MkII range arrives with an 8.0-inch colour touch screen, fitted as standard equipment on all Falcon sedan models except for the entry-level Falcon XT.
On Falcon Ute it will be standard equipment on XR6 and XR6 Turbo models, and offered as an option on the entry-level XL model.
The G6E and G6E Turbo models will also feature an integrated sat-nav with Traffic Message Channel as standard equipment.
The MkII also scores audio system upgrades with a new USB input for MP3 audio files (that can be browsed and played through the audio system).
Side curtain airbags are fitted as standard equipment across the FG MkII sedan range and head/thorax side-airbags as standard equipment across the full Falcon Ute line-up.
Rear parking sensors are also standard to all Falcon sedan models.
- Tim O'Brien
TMR Managing Editor