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

ford-ka-fq

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

ford-ka-2009-fq

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

ford-focus-stationwagon-fq

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

New Ford Fiesta ECO special

July 25th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

ford-fiesta-fq

There is big demand in the UK for ‘low emission vehicles’ as at the moment these types of vehicles enjoy generous tax benefits by being less polluting.

Ford has put it’s hand up with the new Fiesta ECOnetic, which claims ultra low emissions of carbon-dioxide.

View the press release below.

The Fiesta ECOnetic becomes the most fuel efficient new five-seater family car in the UK.  With CO2 emissions at under 100g/km, Ford Fiesta ECOnetic is zero rated both for road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) and for the ‘showroom tax’ element of VED introduced for the first year of ownership in this year’s Budget.

Aerodynamic body styling, lowered suspension, low resistance tyres and low friction oil all help the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic achieve ultra low CO2 emissions.  Additionally a green shift indicator in the instrument cluster highlights the optimal point to change gear to maximise fuel economy.

Roelant de Waard, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said:  “Many drivers are prepared to be green – but still want comfort, performance and an affordable price.  ECOnetic answers that demand.

“Ford’s ECOnetic range, complete with new Fiesta, delivers style with a green conscience.”

Fiesta ECOnetic — what’s different?

* Aerodynamic  rear air deflectors
* Lowered suspension
* Optimised rolling resistance tyres (175/65R14) and low friction oil
* Green shift indicator light
* Modified engine calibration
* Transmission final drive ratio changed from 3.37 to 3.05

Ford G6 2008 Review

July 21st, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

ford-fg-g6-fq

Looking through an old family photo album with my beautiful girlfriend the other day, I noticed one feature that had remained constant throughout the passage of time reflected in the pictures. It wasn’t the bad hair (I haven’t had a hair cut since I was 12 anyway) or my uncle’s daggy fashion (very 1979), it was the automotive backdrop.

Of all the photos (especially holiday ones) we took when I was a kid, the family Falcon was the one constant that appeared in many. Sure it had changed colour and shape as new models came and went, but it was still the same straight six engine in a big roomy car that appealed to so many families.

From the late sixties till the rise of the MPV and SUV, nothing could combine the practicality and economy of the big Aussie six.

My Dad was never a parochial supporter of locally (Australian) made cars with Austins, Datsuns, and Volvos gracing our driveway over the years, but there was always a Falcon as a mainstay. In fact it the last Falcon in our family was only put to rest recently after more than 500,000km in favour of a more economical 4 cylinder car.

End of an icon?

The new FG Falcon is set to be the last of the straight-six Falcons, a heritage that stretches back to 1960 when local production began. The current story is that from 2010 Ford Australia will be using the North American ‘Cyclone’ V6 for the Falcon range due to the implementation Euro 4 emission regulations. If so, it will be the end of an era.

Ford is already making changes however, as the new Ford G6 is no Falcon. The G6 name replaces the Fairmont badge with the G6E (and G6E Turbo) taking over from the Fairmont Ghia tag and only the base XT and sporty XR series still using the Falcon name plate. The Futura tag has also been dropped.
Even more confusing is the fact that Pontiac in the US has a mid-size car (by American standards) badged ‘G6′ and a G8 which is a Holden Commodore with an ugly face.

While the previous BF Falcon looked as hard and angry as a lion poked with a stick, the FG has a softer, more European look to it. It does seem to have more in common – looks wise – with the new Mondeo and Focus than the BF Falcon.

It’s still looks suitably tough but has a more mellowed look to it, like a sleepy tiger. You can see elements (however small) from the Maserati Quattroporte and the BMW M5 in the high, contoured waist-line which helps to make the Ford look more elegant.

The new FG is a very nice car for daily duties around town and on the highway. It has a very comfortable ride which shows decent control except over speed humps where the front can scrape, although if you go a bit quicker, the front strangely doesn’t make contact with road.

Under acceleration the car squats and pitches like a rocket firing into the sky but braking and cornering is much tamer with less body movement.

The suspension is soft at town speeds but seems to firm up a little at higher speeds, though Falcons have always been a little prone to wallow.

The new G6 doesn’t seem to have as much legroom in the back compared to the previous model but it has ample headroom for all passengers. Ford claims an increase of 9mm in rear legroom, but agreement in the Car and SUV offices is that it feels smaller — perhaps this is because of the driving position required, and anyway, 9mm is only a large distance for an amoeba.

Adjustable pedals are a nice touch to create a better driving position but the electric/manual combination for seat adjustment seems a little strange. Overall the G6 has a good driving position despite being a little high.

The fit and finish of the interior plastics is better than the Holden Commodore with no gaps between surfaces and a strong feeling of solidity about the dash architecture.

The trip computer display is limited in that it only shows one reading at a time and the buttons to scroll through the menu are located inconveniently on the side of the instrument cluster.

The central screen, despite not being colour, is easy to use and has all relevant stereo and temperature info on the one screen. The centre binnacle is well-sized and can swallow quite a few CDs, while the iPod friendly stereo sounds decent enough.

At the back end the boot floor is shaped strangely being sunken around the spare tyre well. This probably offers good storage space for certain items, but a flat floor is more convenient for large loads.

The only real interior issue on our test car was the fabric on the seats looking and feeling like a velour tracksuit from 1991.

While in the past most people bought a Falcon or Commodore ‘cause Dad drove ‘em’, we now know that such reasoning is ill-advised given current petrol prices. It is still an emotional argument to buy a Falcon and Commodore as until big cars become much more economical their appeal will be limited. If you are looking at this option and hereditary disposition hasn’t swayed you one way or the other then it is difficult to go past the G6 for interior quality. Externally it comes down to taste, but I prefer the Falcon, sorry, G6. The question is in 30 years when you look back through your photo albums, which car do you want to see in the background?

Price from: $45,990 for the G6 and $39,990 for the XT Falcon.

What we like

  • Euro styling
  • Torquey engine
  • Smooth handling

What we don’t like

  • Strange boot space
  • Velour cloth seats

Engine

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Engine type 4.0L DOHC DI-VCT I6 4.0L DOHC DI-VCT I6 4.0L DOHC DI-VCT TURBO I6
Engine size (cc) 3984 3984 3984
Compression ratio 10.3:1 10.3:1 8.8:1
Maximum power (DIN) 195kW @ 6000rpm 195kW @ 6000rpm 270kW @ 5250rpm41
Maximum torque (DIN) 391Nm @ 3250rpm 391Nm @ 3250rpm 533Nm @ 2000rpm – 4750rpm44
No. of valves 24 24 24
Bore x stroke (mm) 92.25 x 99.31mm 92.25 x 99.31mm 92.26 x 99.31mm
Fuel Management system Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
Engine management Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control
Battery 54Ah 54Ah 54Ah

Engine – E-Gas

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Engine size (cc) 3984 3984 -
Compression ratio 10.3:1 10.3:1 -
Maximum power (DIN)45 156kW @ 4750rpm 156kW @ 4750rpm -
Maximum torque (DIN)46 371Nm @ 2750rpm 371Nm @ 2750rpm -
No. of valves 24 24 -
Bore x stroke 92.25 x 99.31mm 92.25 x 99.31mm -
Engine management Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control -

Fuel

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Fuel tank capacity (L) (petrol) 68 68 68
Fuel tank capacity (L) (E-Gas) 93 93 -
Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – 6-speed automatic transmission 10.251 10.2 11.7
Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – 5-speed automatic transmission 10.5 - -
Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – 6-speed manual transmission - - -
Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – (E-Gas) 14.9 14.9 -
Recommended fuel (petrol) ULP or PULP E10 Compatible ULP or PULP E10 Compatible ULP or PULP E10 Compatible
Recommended fuel (E-Gas) LPG only LPG only -

Brakes

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Front Standard vented disc brakes with twin piston caliper Standard vented disc brakes with twin piston caliper Performance brakes
Rear Standard solid disc brake with single piston caliper Standard solid disc brake with single piston caliper Standard solid disc brake with single piston caliper
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – Petrol 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – E-Gas 3-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) 3-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) -
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) incorporates Traction Control System (TCS), Emergancy Brake Assist (EBA) and 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) – Petrol Only Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) incorporates Traction Control System (TCS), Emergancy Brake Assist (EBA) and 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) – Petrol Only Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) incorporates Traction Control System (TCS), Emergancy Brake Assist (EBA) and 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) – Petrol Only

Maximum Towing Capacity (Subject to State & Territory regulations)

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Manual - - -
Automatic 2300kg 2300kg 2300kg

Exterior Dimensions (mm)

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Overall length 4967 4967 4967
Overall width 1868 1868 1868
Overall height 1433 1433 1433
Wheelbase 2838 2838 2838
Front track 1583 1583 1583
Rear track 1598 1598 1598
Front overhang 950 950 950
Rear overhang 1179 1179 1179

Interior Dimensions (mm)

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Front headroom 1012 1012 1012
Front legroom 1073 1073 1073
Front shoulder room 1523 1523 1523
Front hip room 1486 1486 1486
Rear headroom 989 989 989
Rear legroom 989 989 989
Rear shoulder room 1518 1518 1518

Luggage Capacity (L)

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
Petrol 535 535 535
E-Gas 408 408 408

Engine and Transmission

Feature G6 G6E G6E Turbo
4.0L DOHC DI-VCT I6 S S -
6-Speed manual transmission - - -
5-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift S - -
ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift O S -
4.0L DOHC DI-VCT TURBO I6 - - S
6-Speed manual transmission - - -
ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift - - S
BOSS 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8 - - -
6-Speed manual transmission - - -
ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift - - -
E-Gas 4.0L DOHC DI-VCT I6 (Dedicated LPG)1 O O -
4-Speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift S S -

Words Ben Dillon, photos Darren Cottingham

Ford introduces the Fiesta Zetec S

July 16th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

ford-fiesta-fq

Fast Ford fans are set to celebrate the return of a sporty favourite – the exciting yet accessible Fiesta Zetec S.

Ford’s stylish new small car will offer a sports model from its UK launch this autumn, giving driving enthusiasts a new benchmark for affordable driving fun.  It will also continue the “Zetec S” name, first introduced to the Fiesta in 1999.

Fiesta Zetec S adds a distinctive sporting flavour to the stylish sweeps and curves of all-new Fiesta.

On the outside are five-spoke, 16in alloy wheels, projector headlamps, front fog lamps, a deeper front bumper, side mouldings and a rear spoiler.

Inside, a leather steering wheel and bolstered sports seats continue that sports feel to appeal to driving enthusiasts, while the standard equipment list also addresses comfort and safety, with side airbags and air conditioning.

These sports interior details add to the ‘cockpit’ driving feel, created by a 30mm lower seating position than the previous-generation Fiesta, while Zetec S adds its own twist to the stylish Fiesta interior, with high contrast trim colours and designs inspired by snowboards.

Fiesta Zetec S lives up to its sporty credentials with an all-new, 120hp Duratec Ti-VCT engine, powerful enough to reach 100 km/h in 9.9sec and a top speed of 200 km/h.  Lowered, tuned sports suspension helps new Fiesta Zetec S make the most of this power and maintain excellent dynamic response.

The responsive new Duratec Ti-VCT engine uses twin independent variable cam timing to provide the optimal balance of performance and fuel economy, so despite its feisty character and 20 extra horsepower, the new Duratec Ti-VCT is still uses less fuel and generates less CO2 than the 100PS, 1.6-litre engine from the previous Fiesta.  It returns a combined fuel economy of 5.9 L/100km and CO2 emissions of 139g/km.

Fiesta Zetec S will also be available with a 1.6-litre 90hp Duratorq TDCi, providing a more relaxed driving character and even greater efficiency.  The exceptionally flexible engine sips fuel at 4.2 L/100km, generating just 110g/km CO2.

The all-new Fiesta range will be launched in the UK in a few months time, with New Zeland sales yet to be confirmed.