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by Tim Beissmann

The FG MkII Falcon upgrade and the efficient four-cylinder EcoBoost engine join the new EcoLPi LPG models early in 2012 to create what looks like the blue oval’s strongest local large car offering in years. The mid-year production relocation for Focus should also boost Ford’s small-car sales performance. The all-new Mondeo will become the next global vehicle developed under the One Ford program. To be unveiled as the Ford Fusion at January’s Detroit motor show, the new mid-sizer should go on sale in Australia in 2013. The sporty Fiesta ST (still unconfirmed for our market) is another likely to be at least 18 months away.

 

FORD TRANSIT

Vehicle type: Light commercial. Timing: January

The Transit 280S gets a new 2.2-litre diesel engine across the range. The front-wheel drive models get a 92kW/330Nm tune of the engine (up 7kW/30Nm), while the rear-wheel drive models get a more powerful 114kW/385Nm tune (up 11kW/10Nm from the old 2.4-litre engine). Official fuel consumption drops to as low as 7.2 litres/100km, matching the Transit ECOnetic which has been discontinued. Prices remain unchanged from before.

 

FORD FALCON

Vehicle type: Large car. Timing: January

The upgraded Falcon range brings revised front styling, added safety features and enhanced interior technology. Six airbags and rear parking sensors are standard across the sedan line-up, while all models (except the XT and XL ute) score an eight-inch colour touchscreen. Prices are down between $2555 and $3655, while Ford says each model is between $3605 and $8255 better value than before.

 

FORD KUGA

Vehicle type: Compact SUV. Timing: March

The compact European SUV belatedly arrives to replace the out-dated Escape. The first-generation Kuga, which has been on sale overseas since 2008, will only be sold in Australia for around 12 months before the all-new model (unveiled in Los Angeles as the Ford Escape) replaces it in 2013. Two variants will offered next year: Trend and Titanium. Both will be powered by a 147kW/320Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine teamed with a five-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Prices are yet to be revealed, although we expect them to fall between $35,000 and $45,000 for the two well-equipped models.

 

FORD RANGER

Vehicle Type: Light commercial. Timing: Q1

The Australian-engineered pick-up range will be completed throughout the first three months of 2012. Joining the XL and XLT Double Cab 4×4 3.2-litre diesel will be the 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. Prices will start at $19,740 for the XL Single Cab Chassis 4×2 2.5-litre petrol manual and top out at $59,390 for the Wildtrak Double Cab 4×4 3.2-litre diesel auto.

 

FORD FALCON ECOBOOST

Vehicle type: Large car. Timing: April

The highly anticipated four-cylinder Falcon promises to bring new levels of fuel efficiency to the traditional Australian-made family sedan. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection EcoBoost petrol engine is expected to produce 177kW of power and 340Nm of torque. Fuel economy should fall below 8.5 litres/100km, yet EcoBoost models take just 0.2 seconds longer than inline sixes to accelerate from 0-100km/h. EcoBoost will be offered in the XT, G6 and G6E model lines, and while Ford Australia has not yet confirmed prices, we expect EcoBoost variants to be priced similarly to their conventional inline six counterparts.

 

FORD FOCUS (UPDATE)

Vehicle type: Small car. Timing: Mid-year

Ford’s small car will get a boost when production shifts from Germany to Thailand. While local supply has so far been limited, Ford Australia will have unrestrained access to the impressive new model after the relocation, reducing waiting times for customers. The move is likely to be accompanied by a small specification upgrade for selected models rather than a price reduction.

 

FORD FOCUS ST

Vehicle type: Hot-hatch. Timing: Q4

Next year is set to end with a bang for the blue oval as the Focus ST hits the scene. It will arrive a few months after production of our Focus shifts from Germany to Thailand. The hero car is powered by a 184kW/360Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine and scores upgraded sports suspension, an understated body kit and Recaro sports seats. Replacing the XR5 Turbo, the five-door Focus ST should be priced between $35,000 and $40,000, rivalling the Mazda3 MPS and Volkswagen Golf GTI.