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 Post subject: FORD PANTHER
Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:14 pm 
Getting Side Ways
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Location: Wellington
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Codenamed "Panther", the Falcon GT's supercharged V8 will have the same power as before (335kW and 570Nm) but it will accelerate more quickly because of wider rear tyres and retuned suspension.

Although Ford does not publish acceleration claims, Fairfax Media understands internal testing has shown the new model can reach 100kmh in less than five seconds.

The upgraded Falcon GT is due to be unveiled within the next two months in the lead-up to October's Sydney motor show.

There are also plans afoot to revive the Falcon XR8 nameplate, thought to have been left for dead when it was dropped from the line-up in June 2010.

There is widespread speculation the XR8 will replace the budget-priced but slow-selling FPV GS – which, ironically, was supposed to be badged XR8 but Ford changed its mind at the 11th hour.

However, reliable sources say the decision to revive the XR8 nameplate is yet to be made and, if approved, won't reappear until 2013 at the earliest.

It is also unclear what engine would power the XR8.

The 315kW supercharged V8 used in the GS would have to meet stricter Ford reliability standards if the car were to wear Falcon XR8 badging.

Ford could also choose to power the XR8 with a non-supercharged V8.

However, whichever option Ford goes with, it will cost time and money to undertake either engineering overhaul.

Meanwhile, enthusiast websites are rife with speculation the FPV range is about to be rationalised to a single GT model, dropping the GT-E and GT-P variants from the line-up.

However this is wide of the mark.

Dealers were last week sent a bulletin advising them to bring forward any production orders for GT-E and GT-P models because they will be unavailable while the limited edition GT "Panther" is built in one batch.

Regular production of all GT variants and the turbocharged F6 are expected to resume afterwards.

There is also speculation Ford Australia is about to take control of Ford Performance Vehicles. But this, too, seems premature.

FPV has been 51 per cent owned by British firm Prodrive since 2002, with Ford owning the remaining 49 per cent.

Prodrive's chief operating officer, Clive Scrivener, was in Australia this week – at the same time as the Asia-Pacific boss of Ford, Joe Hinrichs. However, the parties did not meet.

The takeover conjecture started after three FPV engineers – Bernie Quinn, Paul Cook and Jim Jovonoski – bought an engineering offshoot of Prodrive last month. But that division is not part of FPV.

That said, Ford Australia is believed to be reviewing its relationship with the FPV business.

Ford and FPV have been slow to recoup the A$40 million investment in the supercharged V8 upgrade introduced in the GT Falcon in October 2010.

While sales of high-performance Falcons have increased since the introduction of the supercharged V8 engine, Ford was expecting even higher demand.

Despite Ford building the most powerful locally-made V8 sedan on sale in Australia today, FPV sells less than half the number of cars as rival Holden Special Vehicles.

Although there is wild speculation about a takeover on a number of Ford internet forums, Waggin, the company says there are no changes or announcements imminent regarding FPV.

Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead Phipps told Fairfax Media: "We have no plans to make any kind of announcement in relation to FPV in the near future." ... -Falcon-GT



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