Ford Fiesta Zetec 2012 Review

January 3rd, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Of the huge number of vehicle models whose names have been wrenched from the Spanish dictionary, the Fiesta is arguably the most popular and well known in Europe. New Zealand hasn’t had the Fiesta as a direct import for that long (it was called the Festiva or something similar, if I remember rightly).

However, if it was called a Ford Party (the direct translation), it would have had naming allure of the Toyota Funcargo (even ‘cargo’ indirectly comes from the Spanish ‘cargar’ which means ‘to load’). Given a couple of hours, Continue reading “Ford Fiesta Zetec 2012 Review” »

Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost 2012 Review

November 1st, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

To some people, saying Falcon and four-cylinder turbo in the same sentence would make their lip curl. Until now you could only have your Ford with six or eight cylinders (well, only eight in an FPV), not four plus a hair dryer.

After all, the Falcon is a big car; it’s a car that’s had a six or eight for a reason. To top it off, they’ve given it a green-sounding name – EcoBoost – that, for sure, means it’s going to accelerate like a kitten pulling a Continue reading “Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost 2012 Review” »

Ford Reveals Stylish New Fiesta; Advanced Technology Includes SYNC and 1.0-litre EcoBoost Engine

September 11th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

  • Ford unveils dynamic new Fiesta with sharper design and exclusive features
  • Redesigned Fiesta delivers cutting-edge technology including Ford SYNC voice-activated connectivity system
  • Fiesta will be equipped with the award-winning 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine to deliver expected best-in-class fuel economy

The new Fiesta will be on stage tomorrow in Amsterdam at Ford’s special “Go Further” product event hosted by Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally and attended by 2,500 dealers.

New Fiesta delivers an advanced package of technologies including voice-activated in-car connectivity system Ford SYNC. Making its way to the Asia Pacific and Africa region, it will also be equipped with the acclaimed 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine to deliver expected best-in-class fuel economy.

“Fiesta has been one of the world’s best-loved small cars across five decades, and the sporty appeal of the last generation Fiesta inspired real passion among global compact car customers, contributing to its status as the world’s most successful small car,” said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe executive design director. “We had to keep that vital part of Fiesta’s make-up – but we also wanted to give it a more sophisticated look.”

The new Fiesta marks the latest chapter in the journey of the popular small car. Ford launched the first Fiesta in 1976 and has since sold more than 15 million models around the world. New Fiesta features design cues inspired by the latest Ford global design language and concept vehicles.

The Fiesta’s face is dominated by a trapezoidal front grille, bracketed by laser-cut headlamps with daytime running lamps that use LED technology, and features a power-dome bonnet design. The redesigned Fiesta also delivers a harmonious and ergonomically optimised interior.

Fiesta follows Ford’s approach of democratising technology – bringing advanced features to a greater number of drivers.

Ford SYNC in-car connectivity system delivers an unprecedented level of connectivity, enabling owners to voice-activate phone calls and music selection from devices connected via Bluetooth or USB.

The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is the 2012 “International Engine of the Year” and is expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy.

Ford will reveal more details about the new European Fiesta range at the Paris Motor Show in September.

The Sound of Science: Ford Focus ST Features Active Sound Symposer

May 23rd, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Discerning sports compact drivers not only want their engines to sing, they want them to roar. Ford engineers made sure the new Focus ST does both, with the help of a new twist on an existing technology.

Ford engineers added a special sound tube – called a sound symposer – to amplify the throaty frequencies enthusiasts crave in performance cars. Engineers worked to naturally amplify the specific lower range of engine frequencies found between 200 and 450 Hz that are most pleasing to performance enthusiasts through the use of a composite “paddle” that vibrates with intake air pulses.

While the sound tube concept has been used on Mustang in the past, the sound symposer used in Focus ST is unique because of its electronically controlled valve that opens and closes based on driver inputs – engine speed, accelerator pedal position and gear selection. In lower gears, the valve is mapped more aggressively, while in higher gears the effect is dialled back to enable quieter cruising. This isn’t possible with conventional, passive sound tubes. Part of the reason Ford made these changes is that on Focus ST, for the first time, the symposer is attached directly to the intake manifold (as opposed to between the manifold and air intake).

“For ST drivers, it’s not enough to have a car that is fast or feels fast. It also has to sound fast,” says Christopher Myers, Air Induction System engineer. “Part of this is the design of the exhaust, but we went further and engineered the symposer both to dial up the nice sounds the EcoBoost delivers under the hood but dial back the interior sound volumes at part throttle.

“The turbo gives us great power across the rev range, but it presents a special challenge from a sound perspective as it absorbs much of the beautiful engine music,” Myers adds. “The symposer helps us bring the throaty sounds that drivers love.”

The secret to getting this right was developing the perfect paddle to naturally amplify the ST’s great engine sound. Ford engineers tested several different paddles. Eventually, the supplier developed a paddle with the correct stiffness that yielded the best acoustic response and ultimately, the best “flutter” and low-end frequency sound.

An international team from suppliers of the intake manifold, battery tray, electrical hardware and software, and electrical connectors came together with Ford to accelerate development of the symposer. All in all, 30 engineers from five countries had to balance NVH, materials, manufacturing and assembly considerations to bring the symposer to life.

“The sound symposer gives the Focus ST an aural split personality,” says Lisa Schoder, Ford Focus ST Marketing manager. “In everyday driving, the car is composed and refined. But under full throttle, we unleash the sonic hounds. It’s a beauty and a beast.”

Among the more visible options will be the Tangerine Scream metallic colour that will be offered exclusively on Focus ST as well as race-inspired Recaro seats with matching colour accents.

Ford Kuga Titanium 2012 Review

March 8th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

It’s about time we got the Kuga, but I didn’t used to think that. To be honest, I was wondering whether we need yet another compact SUV. Now I’m certain we do. The Ford Kuga entered into my world last week, put a smile on my face within 30 seconds and now I want one.

It’s not something I say often about the cars we get to drive. A car is a personal decision and of all the cars I’ve driven (many hundreds) there are probably only 15-20 that I would consider based on performance/value/gut feeling. Notable examples include the Lotus Elise, the Audi S5 and FPV’s F6. They are cars which also made me smile, and the fun derived from the dollars spent comes in great surpluses.

Why is the Kuga favourable to me, then, given that I don’t need all five leather-clad seats (the front two of which have 5-stage heating), I only drive 3km to work on 50kph roads and with my child-free life I rarely need to carry anything more than some light shopping? It’s because Ford has captured some of the visceral essence of the fun of driving in a car that screams practicality.

Take the Continue reading “Ford Kuga Titanium 2012 Review” »

Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Double Cab 2012 Review

December 8th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Utes are a fantastic invention. Serving duty for all manner of tradespeople, farmers, hardcore dudes with motocross bikes, and more, they’ve made life convenient for those that need to transport filthy stuff without hitching up a trailer, and without getting grubbiness in the driving compartment. They (mostly) drive better than a van, and with the right tyres can deal with some really rough terrain.

However, they have a dark side. Leaf spring suspension is less than ideal on the road, they’re often noisy and rough, you don’t have the luxury of a boot to hide valuables in, and for all the convenience they give you, the manufacturers are acutely aware that price is a huge factor when you’re buying a work vehicle. They’re less of an emotive purchase therefore they’ve often been lacking in features that car drivers take for granted just to keep the price down.

The new Ranger challenges this, though. It’s an improved model that’s making some of the other utes look decidedly 1999. Four things set this ute apart from the others:

Gearbox: The gearbox is a six-speed manual which has (in ute standards) a very short throw. Whereas many ute gear changes feel like you’re rowing a boat, this reminds me of my old WRX STI – notchy, needs a bit of a firm hand, but very satisfying.

Looks: Channeling the brawn of its bigger American brother, the F150, the Ranger makes many other trucks look, well, puny. Check it out next to the Mitsubishi Triton in the photo gallery and you’ll see that the Triton looks like it was starved as a child. I caught other ute drivers giving it the eye on numerous occasions.

Ride and handling: the previous model was reasonably accomplished, but this seems better. We drove the top spec Wildtrak last time, and in this new model, which is the model down, at times I was under the illusion that I was driving a car. It’s never going to slalom like a Focus Sport, but for general cruising on the motorway and reasonable quality roads, you’re going to make smooth progress. My significant other even fell asleep in the passenger seat on the trip back fromThames where some of these photos were taken. We didn’t have any mud tyres and it was raining, therefore no off-road excursions were taken. However, it has some serious off-road specs comparing it to other utes available, so it appears that it could handle what’s thrown at it. Continue reading “Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Double Cab 2012 Review” »

Ford Focus Sport 2011 Review

November 30th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

I had a quick ride in an ancient Focus while I was testing the new Ford Focus Sport just to get my bearings on exactly what has improved. You tend to forget the pace of change in cars, and something that was perfectly fine 10 years ago now seems like it’s barely better than a carriage pulled by a flatulent horse.

That’s not saying that the vintage Focus should have been sent to the glue factory, but it just felt low budget. Enter the new Focus Sport, champing at the bit to prove it’s a cabello blanco and able to dance on its hind quarters.

The Focus Sport packs a 2-litre 125kW petrol engine that produces 202Nm of torque. It’s no racehorse, but there’s plenty to get it galloping along. You get 17-inch alloys which are shod in 215/50R17 tyres. There’s a space saver in the boot. Interestingly, the front brake discs on the Sport are smaller than on the Trend 2-litre diesel hatch, though this could be because of the diesel’s 1500kg towing capacity as opposed to the petrol’s 500kg. Continue reading “Ford Focus Sport 2011 Review” »

2013 Ford Mustang teased online

November 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The new 2013 Ford Mustang is on its way and is widely expected to be put on show later this week at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. To get Mustang fans all hyped up the blue oval has dropped a teaser image showing some of the changes for the new model.

The four separate shots include cropped images of redesigned head- and taillights as well as upgraded instrumentation with Ford’s Track App display. The new Mustang is expected to borrow styling cues from the current Shelby GT500 model and this will mean more a more aggressive aesthetic.

Aerodynamics are also set to improve with the addition of a new chin splitter and rear spoiler. But for many fans, what’s in store for the new 2013 GT500 has them really excited. Continue reading “2013 Ford Mustang teased online” »