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Australian-engineered components to underpin all-new Mustang on sale here within two years
Some of Ford Australia’s ill-fated Falcon will live on within the Blue Oval’s sixth-generation Mustang, which will next month be confirmed for local release in 2015.
The return of Ford’s famed Pony Car to Australia for the first time since 2003, when Ford sold the last of less than 400 Tickford-converted examples (pictured), has been anticipated since Ford confirmed its new flagship coupe will be also be produced in right-hand drive form.
But speculation shifted into top gear after Ford announced it will disclose a number of new models for Australia in Sydney on August 13 as part of a commitment to expand its current model portfolio by 30 per cent by 2016, when it will kill off the Falcon and cease local manufacturing after more than 90 years.
Motoring can confirm Ford Australia President Bob Graziano and Ford Motor Company Executive Vice-President of Global Marketing, Sales & Service and Lincoln, Jim Farley, will use the ‘Go Further: A Vision for Australia’ function to confirm the Mk6 Mustang for Australia.
Ford has already announced a December release for its all-new EcoSport compact SUV, and we understand the all-new seven-seat off-road wagon developed by Ford Australia from the Melbourne-designed Ranger ute will bring to at least three the number of additional Ford models to be launched here within three years.
Another new nameplate will be XR8, which will be revived as part of the FH Falcon range due in the second half of next year. As expected, the 2014 XR8 sedan will essentially be a rebadged, new-look version of FPV’s slow-selling supercharged 335kW GT sports sedan.
According to a Fairfax report, the born-again XR8 will become Ford Australia’s performance flagship in about 12 months when Ford, which assumed full control of FPV in February, will close the doors of its performance brand and kill off its Falcon-based GS, GT and F6 sedan and ute models – rather than develop upgraded FH versions of them.
The XR8’s top-shelf status will be short-lived, however, with the first factory Mustang to be sold in Australia since the late 1960s set to replace it as Ford’s finest performance model here in early 2015, before the Falcon is retired after more than 56 years in October 2016.
While that will leave Ford without a direct competitor for HSV and its ballistic 430kW GTS flagship, it also opens up the prospect of a 335kW/575Nm Ford XR8 to rival Holden’s new 270kW/530Nm Commodore SS and, perhaps a 310kW/565Nm XR6 – both priced under $50,000.
Expect the latter to effectively be replaced by a twin-turbo V6-powered version of the next-generation Taurus that will emerge before the Falcon is retired in October 2016, while a new Explorer should similarly replace the Territory in the latter half of this decade.
By then, the Mustang is likely to form the basis of Ford’s V8 touring car contender, if a proposal by V8 Supercars board member and Red Bull Racing Australia owner Roland Dane to allow two-door coupes to compete with four-door sedans is approved.
Due to make its world debut in concept form at the Detroit motor show in January, before the production version bows at the New York show next April – precisely 50 years after the original appeared there in 1964 – the new Mustang will enter production at the Flat Rock plant in Michigan next July, with right-hand drive production to follow by early 2015.
Key details were revealed by respected Australian journalist Peter Robinson in the latest issue of Wheels magazine, including a starting price of well under $50,000, making the new Mustang far more accessible than the last locally-converted model priced close to $90,000.
Codenamed S550, the 2015 Mustang will ride on an all-new platform and weap dramatic new sheetmetal inspired by the 2011 EVOS concept (pictured).
Initially available only in 2+2 coupe form, it will again be joined by a convertible, with both models available with turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder, twin-turbo 3.7-litre and naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engines.
Ford is unlikely to announce any Australian links, but motoring.com.au sources say the first four-cylinder Mustang will share the most in common with the Falcon; that car's 2.0-litre engine was the first rear-drive, longitudinal application of Ford’s new EcoBoost four-cylinder engine globally.
While the second-generation ‘Nano’ EcoBoost turbo-four will grow to 2.3 litres for the base Mustang (and upcoming Focus RS), development by Australian engineers of the 2.0-litre FG Falcon was a direct precursor for the entry-level Mustang, which will also feature the Falcon’s six-speed 6R80 automatic transmission.
Noise, vibration and harshness lessons learned in adapting the inherently a*** direct-injection engine to the Falcon will also be incorporated into the next Mustang – the iconic American nameplate that has attracted more than 8.5 million sales in 49 years.
However, Ford’s new performance leader will also ride on suspension developed in Australia, including a derivative of the Virtual Pivot alloy front-end engineered for the SZ Territory and FG Falcon and an aluminium version of the Control Blade independent rear suspension developed for the same vehicles.
The shift from a live rear axle to IRS may not please Mustang customers with a penchant for drag racing, but should bring better road holding and ride quality. Unfortunately, while at least three Mustang engineering mules have been spotted featuring the new alloy IRS in Victoria, the more exotic new rear-end will not be seen under next year’s final Falcon, the FH.
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