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by Tim Beissmann

Ford Australia has outlined its product plans for 2012, highlighting significant changes, additions and upgrades across its passenger, SUV and light commercial vehicle range.

The launch of the FG MkII Falcon should get 2012 off to a positive start, with the new models set to hit showrooms between late-December and the end of January.

As detailed in September, the Falcon FG MkII range brings revised exterior styling, enhanced interior technology and added safety features. It will be between $2555 and $3655 cheaper than the previous model, and will be up to $8255 better value than the model it replaces.

The key enhancements include an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen for all models except XT and XL ute (where it will be optional), six airbags and rear parking sensors across the sedan range and four airbags in all utes, and refreshed exterior styling which in particular makes the base model variants look much more sophisticated and premium.

The FG MkII Falcon will be bolstered in the second quarter of the year by the launch of the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which promises to take the large Australian-made sedan to all-new levels of efficiency while still maintaining its traditional comfort, versatility and driveability.

The Falcon EcoBoost will arrive just after the Kuga, which goes on sale in March. The German-built soft-roader will replace the dated Escape, introducing new levels of quality and performance and the ‘kinetic’ design language to Ford’s local compact SUV line-up ahead of the all-new model’s launch around 12 months later in early 2013.

The Ranger ute line-up will be completed in the first quarter of 2012, with a staggered arrival of the remaining body styles, engines and drivetrains. Currently only available in XL and XLT Double Cab 4×4 3.2-litre diesel form, the range will expand to include 4×2, 4×2 High Rider, Single Cab, Super Cab and Wildtrak variants as well as the 2.2-litre diesel and 2.5-litre petrol engines.

One of the biggest changes for Ford Australia comes in the middle of next year, when production of the Focus small car shifts from Saarlouis, Germany to Rayong, Thailand. Supply of the new Focus has been limited in Australia since its launch in August because of high demand for the vehicle in Europe. Ford Australia spokeswoman Sinead Phipps said the shift to Thailand would mean the local manufacturer would have access to “as many [Focuses] as we want”.

Ms Phipps said the switch to Thai production may be accompanied by some minor changes to the Focus range, and said these would most likely come in the form of additional equipment rather than reduced prices.

The Ford Focus ST hero car will go on sale a few months after the shift to Thailand, with Ford expecting the car here late in 2012. The 184kW/360Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the Focus ST promises to take the blue oval’s hot hatch to new levels of performance to rival the Volkswagen Golf R and Mazda3 MPS while also offering impressive fuel efficiency. The Focus ST gets Ford’s Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control, upgraded sports suspension, a subtle exterior with 18-inch alloy wheels and a driver-focused cabin with Recaro sports seats. Pricing of the all-new Focus ST will be revealed closer to its launch, expected in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Ms Phipps confirmed Ford Australia was looking very closely adding EcoBoost engines to the standard Focus range, describing it as the “next logical step” in terms of EcoBoost proliferation in our market. Despite this, she said no decisions had been made on engine size or when a conventional Focus EcoBoost could go on sale.

She also said the highly fuel efficient Focus ECOnetic was not currently on Ford Australia’s radar, as the company believes there is not enough demand for vehicle at this stage.

The Ford Transit 280S one-tonne van will also benefit from an upgrade in January, when a new 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is introduced across the range. Front-wheel drive models get a 92kW/330Nm tune of the engine (up 7kW/30Nm from before), while rear-wheel drive models get a more powerful 114kW/385Nm tune (up 11kW/10Nm from the outgoing 2.4-litre engine). Official fuel consumption will drop to as low as 7.2 litres/100km and Ford claims CO2 emissions will be a class-leading 189g/km.




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