The 2017 Ford Taurus and 2017 Ford Taurus SHO have been caught by our spy photographer testing on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Ford's Australian engineering arm employs about 1500 people that work on products for the Australian market, along with international markets such as China, India, Southeast Asia and South America.
Sources suggest the two vehicles here are undergoing hot-weather testing and are being evaluated for the Chinese market. The same source also indicated that we are unlikely to see Taurus in Australia as a replacement for the Falcon. The source explained that the Mondeo is closer in size to Falcon and familiar to consumers.
The seventh-generation Ford Taurus is likely to be launched in the North American market in late 2015 or early 2016 and marks the latest iteration of the company's popular large sedan, which was once sold in Australia (remember the Taurus of circa 1996?). The car is expected to be first shown at the Shanghai motor show in April this year.
While the dimensions are still unknown, our spy photographer indicated the car looked large alongside a current-generation Territory that was with the group at the time. The Falcon-based SUV spans 4883 millimetres long, and while reports from US sources also suggest the Taurus will grow in size, it is unlikely to overtake the European-sourced Mondeo (2015 model: 4872mm long in sedan guise) as main contender for Falcon replacement.
The current-generation Taurus shares its D4 platform with the outgoing Volvo S80 and is expected to ditch this heavy arrangement in favour of a new platform called the CD4, which debuted on the 2013 Ford Fusion and will form the basis for the new Lincoln MKS sedan.
The new platform is expected to reduce the weight of Taurus and help it take advantage of a new nine-speed automatic gearbox and exclusively turbocharged EcoBoost engine range.
One of the cars pictured appears to be sporting a bonnet scoop and is predicted to be the high-performance Taurus SHO derivative. The current-generation Ford Taurus SHO uses a turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine mated to an all-wheel-drive drivetrain and is used by a number of US enforcement agencies as a patrol vehicle.
The bonnet scoop is unlikely to remain on the production model and is probably in use as part of the engineering process.
Chinese automotive websites, autohome.com.cn, have snagged photos of the Taurus' interior and they show the use of a large LCD screen on the higher variant, along with a stitched leather-look dashboard and colour-coded seats. In keeping with the car's upmarket feel, the photos also show remote electric seat adjustment for the front passenger seat.
Also visible on interior photos is a new rotary dial as a gear selector, which replaces the vertical gear selector used in the current Taurus. This system is coupled with paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel that will presumably cater for sporty driving.
The unmasked exterior photo shows the use of Ford's hexagonal grille and a strip of daytime running lights integrated within the front bumper bar. Placing the Taurus in line with the company's global front-end design.
CarAdvice will keep you posted on further Taurus developments as they come to hand.
Click on the Photos tab to see more images of the 2017 Ford Taurus.