Airport to city in a new Falcon – and you’re driving

September 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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There’s a brand spankers Ford Falcon XR8 sitting in the Car and SUV garage right now, so we were intrigued when Ford sent us through details of this offer.

For the next two weeks, if you arrive in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, you can choose to drive to your city centre destination in a new FG Falcon. For free.

By booking online at www.travelfirstclass.co.nz or by calling 0508 FIRSTCLASS, travelers arriving between the hours of 7am — 11am or 4pm — 8pm at Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch airports can be met by a Ford representative and a new FG Falcon ready to transport them to their city centre destination.

Volkswagen takes 3rd place from Ford in world rankings

August 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

The Volkswagen Group has taken its place among the world’s top three automakers thanks to the Wolfsburg-based company’s outstanding delivery figures in the first half of 2008. Rival Ford has to settle for fourth position.

“We are delighted that the Volkswagen Group has made it to the global automobile industry’s top three for the first time. This shows that we are on the right track with our ever-stronger international presence and, above all, our product program. We will systematically push ahead with our growth course even in the present difficult market environment,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, commented.

With 3.31 million vehicles delivered in the first half of 2008, the Volkswagen Group increased deliveries in the first six months of this year by 7.2 percent, moving up to third place in the global vehicle sales ranking and overtaking its rival Ford, which announced vehicle sales of 3.22 million for this period.

Ford Ka to cameo in latest ‘007’ film ahead of Paris debut

August 18th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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The highly-anticipated new James Bond adventure, ‘Quantum of Solace’, will feature a cameo appearance from the all-new Ford Ka ahead of its official Paris debut.

Ford’s new small car will make its screen debut alongside the film’s beautiful but feisty leading lady, Olga Kurylenko. Kurylenko plays Camille, a woman with her own personal mission and who quickly becomes an unlikely ally for Bond.

The ‘Quantum of Solace’ Ka is unique with metallic gold paint and an exclusive exterior graphics and interior trim combination.

The special ‘Quantum of Solace’ Ka was created by Ford of Europe’s Design team, in collaboration with the movie’s Oscar award-winning production designer, Dennis Gassner.  The Ka’s cameo continues Ford of Europe’s relationship with the James Bond films, following the debut appearance of the latest Ford Mondeo, in the 2006 blockbuster, ‘Casino Royale’.

The new model retains all the qualities which made the Ka so popular — compact size, great looks, lively dynamics and fun personality — but presents them in a fresh new package. Further technical details of the new Ford Ka will be revealed closer to launch later in 2008.

‘Quantum of Solace’ opens in the UK and France on October 31st, then across the rest of Europe during November 2008 with New Zealand set to follow.

The all-new Ka enjoys the spotlight of its own at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, on October 2.

New Ford Falcon receives highest safety rating

August 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

ford-fg-falcon-g-series-fq

Ford’s all-new FG Falcon has become the first Australian-built car to receive a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP)

The petrol FG Falcon sedan range was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating with a total score of 34.6 points (out of a possible 37 points), giving it the highest score ever recorded by an Australian produced vehicle.

The FG Falcon’s five-star score places it in the top seven per cent of all published ANCAP results, as well as in the top 24 per cent of published ANCAP five-star results.

It also positions the FG Falcon at the forefront of vehicle safety, with the recently released all-new model generating a higher point score than many significantly higher-priced, premium European vehicles including the Volvo V70, Audi A6, Volkwagen Passat and Mercedes-Benz E-class 220 CDi which have established reputations for world-class safety.

“The FG Falcon’s five-star ANCAP rating cements Ford’s long standing reputation for safety leadership,” says Richard Matheson, Managing Director Ford New Zealand.

“Safety is paramount in vehicle development at Ford. The FG Falcon has been designed to deliver real-world safety benefits for our customers and we now have a resounding third party endorsement showing just how safe the all-new FG Falcon really is.”

More than 38 different vehicle crash modes were investigated by Ford during the course of the FG Falcon’s development, with 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests and more than 5,000 state-of-the-art simulated crash tests completed.

The petrol FG Falcon sedan scored maximum points in two of the three physical crash tests performed by ANCAP, setting a new standard in vehicle safety for a locally-manufactured family car, with its world-class body structure and comprehensive suite of active and passive safety features.

The FG-series Ford Falcon and FPV range are available in New Zealand now.

Check out ANCAP raings here.

Ford and GM talk about sharing technologies

August 5th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Amongst the news that General Motors posted a huge Q2 loss and is cutting a futher 5,000 jobs as well as closing four manufacturing plants by 2010, comes rumours from inside Detroit that the unthinkable could be on the cards.

The Detroit News has reported that GM and Ford could be putting thier heads together on engine and powertrain technologies in the near future.

Such a move could help both companies, as developing a new engine costs as much as US$1Billion (NZ$1.37Billion). This news comes along with the forecast by the Center of Automotive Research (CAR) in the U.S that GM is in serious danger of going under if its fortunes don’t change soon.

New Ford Ka to be revealed at Paris Motorshow

August 4th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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The new Ford Ka will take centre-stage at the 2008 Paris Motor Show in October.

Twelve years after the original Ka was launched to great acclaim, its successor captures the same youthful and cheeky spirit. The new model retains all of the qualities which made the Ka so popular — its compact size, great looks, lively dynamics and fun personality — but presents them in a fresh new package.

Ford designers have given the new Ka a fashionable, modern appearance based around the company’s ‘kinetic design’ form language. A number of visual cues provide a connection to the original Ka, but with its distinctive face and chunky proportions the new model has its own unique character.

The interior of the new Ka also has a stylish, dynamic design, combining bold contrasts and expressive colours which reflect the more adventurous tastes of the typical Ka buyer.

The new model is destined to continue the considerable success of the original Ford Ka, which is widely considered to be an automotive design icon. Launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1996, the Ka was immediately praised for its exciting “New Edge” styling and class-leading driving dynamics.

Throughout its 12-year life the Ka has remained tremendously popular among small-car buyers, inspiring fierce loyalty from its owners. In total, Ka production has exceeded 1.4 million vehicles.

New Ford Ka to share Fiat 500 underpinnings

July 30th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Ford has the new Ka coming soon and some people just can’t wait to see it. The new Ka is set to be produced alongside the Fiat 500 and Panda (which is unavailable in NZ) in Poland and will also have a cameo in the new Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’.

Engine line-ups will include 1.4 and 1.6 litre petrol engines and 1.6 litre diesel with the possibility of the turbo 1.4 from the 500 Abarth added at a latter date.

Interesting to see the wheels are carrying the Focus/Mondeo ‘XR’ styling theme. Ford Sport Ka anyone?

Ford Focus 1.6L Wagon 2008 Review

July 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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If you are a spy and want to get around unnoticed (yes spying is about NOT being seen, James) then the Ford Focus Wagon is for you. This car is stealthy. This car is so stealthy that when it first came to the Car and SUV offices, I couldn’t see it.

“The new Focus is here” announced Editor Cottingham. I looked out the window. “Where?” I asked. “Between the Civic and the MINI” came the reply.
At first all I could see was an empty space, but as I squinted toward the place where a car should be, a form suddenly materialised in front of my eyes like a tiger suddenly jumping out of the bush.
It is probably the unremarkable styling and the dark colour that helped to mask the car from view, as during my time with the Focus I completely walked past it in a car park; three times.
I wasn’t the only who had problems finding the car. Other people in the Car office also had trouble seeing it in the car park. “Where’s Ben? His car isn’t…oh there it is”

The Russians would have won the Cold War if they’d had this kind of technology.

The Focus seems a lot larger than its predecessor. It’s amazing to see the change in vehicle sizes over the last ten years.
All the small cars (Focus, Civic et al.) have become medium sized and the mid-size cars have become super-sized. Hell, the Mondeo I am driving feels as big as an early 90’s Falcon.

This increase in size is a good thing because it means you have a small-ish car, with minimal overhangs that is easy to drive, has good visibility and is easy to park. It can also fit a lot of stuff in when you go camping, shopping or when making a mad border-dash with the back chock-full of Bollinger and Eastern bloc women with funny names who may try to kill you.
However with a bigger car you need more power to pull it and if the stealth of the Focus ever failed, and Bond was found out, the two mice under the bonnet would have their work cut out for them in a high speed pursuit.

The lackluster 1.6 litre engine as tested is quite torpid and not suited to an automatic transmission. With this combination it is no surprise that the Focus is tardy. It would be a much better proposition with the Duratorq turbo-diesel and manual transmission. The diesel combo is a little more expensive but it’s not only more powerful, it uses less fuel.

Fuel consumption in the Focus is a bit thirsty for its size with a combined 8.4 L/100km. This could however stem from the fact that you need to drive it hard to get up to speed which is where the diesel would again be the better option.

The driving experience is fine if you take the engine out of the equation (again, a more powerful engine would be better) as the Focus handles well and has an excellent ride compromise between comfort and (semi) performance. Luckily the stealth factor is not present when driving and people can actually see you.

It has a huge amount of space in the back to put things (hindered only by the rear seats not folding compleately flat) and the glovebox is roomier than a supermodel’s lunchbox.

The Focus is a very good car for those who need to address practical issues like carting kids, shopping and pets around (boot blinds and dog partitions are available options).
The interior is decent with comfortable seats, good ergonomics and controls that are easy to use and understand. Despite feeling a little upright and flat, I really liked the seats in the Focus as they were comfortable and easy to get in and out of (am I getting old?) and had funky stripes.

The Focus is extremely practical and with the right engine could be a good choice for carrying stuff quite cheaply. You know that it wouldn’t get stolen (stealth factor), but then again you might lose it.

Although Bond would be as likely to drive the Focus as marry Moneypenny and start collecting stamps, it would be the perfect car for him to pick Pussy Galore up in without the missus knowing- ‘Oh James’ indeed!!

Click through to the next page to read the full specs for the Ford Focus 1.6L Wagon

Price: from $26,190 for the hatch and $27,890 for the wagon

What we like

  • Urban stealth
  • Practicality
  • Interior ergonomics and dash
  • Seats

What we don’t like

  • Lifeless engine
  • Interior door plastics cheap

Engine & Transmission

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

Engine Type 1.6L Duratec Petrol with 4 Speed Automatic
Cylinders 4
Engine size (cc) 1596
Maximum power (DIN) 74 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum torque (DIN) 150 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Combined Fuel Economy: 7.7
CO2 Commissions 184
Euro Stage IV S

Tow Ratings

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

Braked 800
Unbraked 600

Transmissions and Ratios

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

1st gear ratio 2.82
2nd gear ratio 1.51
3rd gear ratio 1.00
4th gear ratio 0.74
5th gear ratio -
6th gear ratio -
Reverse ratio 2.65
Final drive ratio 4.20

Fuel Consumption Data

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

Combined fuel economy (l/100km) 7.7
CO2 Commissions(g/km) 184
Euro IV compliance S
Fuel 91-98 RON (E10 Compatible)

Luggage capacity (litres)

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

Rear seat upright 482
Rear seat folded 1525

Fuel Consumption Data

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

Combined fuel economy (l/100km) 7.7
CO2 Commissions(g/km) 184
Euro IV compliance S
Fuel 91-98 RON (E10 Compatible)

Brakes

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

Anti-lock Braking System with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution S
Dynamic Stability Control (including Traction Assist & Emergency Brake Assist)7 S
4 wheel disc brakes (ventilated front / solid rear) S
Front (mm) ventilated 278 x 25
Rear (mm) solid 265 x 11
Emergency brake light (Hazard warning light) S

Steering

Feature

1.6L Wagon Automatic

Hydraulic power-assisted steering S
Minimum turning circle (m) (kerb to kerb)

Words Ben Dillon – Photos Darren Cottingham