Ford says the new Taurus large sedan - penned by the company's Asia Pacific design director, Australian Todd Willing - has been “designed especially to meet the needs of the Chinese market”, despite the historic American nameplate never actually appearing in its Chinese showrooms before.
In spite of the car maker’s ‘One Ford’ philosophy, it’s understood this version of the Taurus won’t be sold in the US, with North American division expected to get its own new-generation Taurus to replace the current, sixth-gem car.
While seemingly a natural replacement for the Australian-made Ford Falcon that’s set to be killed off when production ends in October 2016, Ford Australia has continually insisted the mid-sized Mondeo will be its largest passenger-car offering post Falcon.
Ford’s Australian engineering team is understood to have played a significant role in the car’s development, however, with prototypes of the Taurus spied testing numerous times on local roads in recent months.
Unlike the rear-drive Falcon, the 2016 Taurus is based on a front-/all-wheel-drive platform that is believed to share components with the Mondeo.
The Taurus measure five metres from nose to tail and sits on a 2.95m wheelbase, making it roughly 50mm longer overall than the Falcon and 110mm longer between the wheels (and 130mm and 100mm larger than the Mondeo, respectively) – its long wheelbase designed to deliver the kind of “abundant second-row legroom” that is highly sought-after in the Chinese market.
Other features designed specifically for its chauffer-driven target market include power-reclining rear seats with lumbar adjustment and a massage function, a rear control panel in the centre armrest for operation of the vehicle’s climate, seat and media settings, and cupholders designed to securely hold different-sized tea bottles.
Ford claims that extensive use of sound-deadening materials, advanced technologies and precise engineering have created an “exceptionally quiet cabin matched by a smooth and comfortable ride”.
Powering China’s 2016 Taurus is a twin-turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 petrol engine that the company claims sets “a new standard for power density and efficiency” in its segment.
Drive is sent to the road via a new nine-speed automatic transmission.
Ford says it made full use of its global design and development resources to create the Taurus, immersing its designers and engineers in China early in the design phase to gain a deeper understanding of the market and the cultural factors influencing vehicle design and preferences.
“The Ford Taurus we’re introducing today shows the amazing strength and flexibility of our One Ford plan,” Ford China chairman and CEO John Lawler said.
“It combines the best of our global product development and large-car expertise with a clear understanding of what Chinese customers in this segment want.”
Designer Willing - famous for also creating the new Ford GT supercar - was responsible for the exterior design, which bears a strong resemblance to the current Falcon and Mondeo.
“We wanted to create a vehicle that displays a maturity of design with balanced and harmonious proportions, tailored to the business customer in China,” Willing said.
“Our aim was to create a vehicle that is elegant, inviting and quietly confident.”
The Taurus features Ford’s familiar hexagonal grille with five horizontal chrome bars and slim headlights with slender LED daytime running lights at the front, polished 19-inch alloy wheels and a prominent character line along its profile, and LED tail-lights with a chrome connecting bar and integrated chrome exhaust tips at the rear.
The 2016 Ford Taurus will be manufactured at the company’s new Changan Ford Hangzhou Plant that cost US$760 million ($975 million) to build and is capable of producing up to 250,000 vehicles per year.
China’s large sedan market is a highly lucrative one. Approximately four million large sedans were sold there last year, and analysts have tipped that number to exceed five million by the end of the decade.