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Falcon Raises the Bar

5 April, 2000

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The new AUII Falcon sets a new standard for the large car segment, with advances in safety and equipment levels, combined with lower servicing costs and better value for money.

The AUII Falcon includes a number of firsts for an Australian-made family car, including:

  • The first Australian-made family car to have driver and passenger airbags as standard equipment across the range.
  • The first Australian-made family car to offer a CD player as standard equipment across the range.
  • The first Australian-made family car to have a single-fuel LPG option.
  • The first Australian-made family car to include "Scheduled Servicing to 60,000km" in the car's purchase price.
  • The first Australian-made family car to have 16-inch wheels standard across the range.
  • The first Australian-made family car to use a laminated firewall to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.
  • The first Australian-made family car to feature a standard overhead driver's console featuring a sunglasses holder.

"When the AU was launched in 1998, it was the first car in its class to offer air conditioning and automatic transmission as standard across the range," said Ford Australia President, Geoff Polites.

"The AUII builds on Falcon's leadership in the areas of power, handling, equipment levels and value for money," he said.

Mr Polites said the entire AUII development process had been driven by the customer.

"Since the release of the AU Falcon we have spent a great deal of time and effort getting closer to the customer and a number of these firsts are a direct result of their input," he said.

The AUII Falcon features revised front and rear styling, a freshened interior, brake and suspension upgrades and a range of customer-oriented features designed to add to the enjoyment of driving.

Ford's XR range has also been revamped, with the XR8 receiving a Tickford-enhanced 200kW engine and standard 17-inch wheels.

Ford has continued its commitment to enhancing the ownership experience for customers by including as standard scheduled servicing to 60,000km - a first for an Australian-made vehicle. Service intervals have increased to 15,000km.

A New Look

The AUII is distinguished from AU by a new front end. There are new grilles on all models and the Fairmont bonnet is now standard across the range, except for XR and ute.

"Many of the features of our high series vehicles have been incorporated across the range, although we have maintained Falcon's unique differentiation between models in the range," Mr Polites said.

Variations of the Fairmont/Fairmont Ghia grille and bonnet have been introduced on the Forte, Futura and Falcon S, while all vehicles feature the Fairmont's jewelled tail lamps.

At the rear, there is a new, squarer and deeper bumper on all sedans. The rear decklid applique and badging have been redesigned and there is a new boot deck spoiler for short wheelbase sedans. The spoiler is standard on Futura and a low-cost option on Forte, Fairmont and Fairmont Ghia.

The new look is completed by new wheel covers on Forte and alloy wheels on Futura, Fairmont and Fairmont Ghia, to complement the standard 16-inch wheels.

"The sixteen-inch wheels with 60 series tyres give the Forte and Futura greater road presence, better ride and a more athletic stance," Mr Polites said.

The XR6 has a new squarer, sports decklid spoiler, while the Falcon S gets an oval-shaped, chrome-tipped exhaust pipe.

Fresh Interior

New trim fabrics and a different interior colour scheme combine to give the new Falcon a fresh, more European feel.

The standard interior colour is now warm charcoal. Dark graphite replaces the medium graphite of the AU range as the optional interior colour. This colour is a couple of shades darker than the medium graphite used on AU.

New contemporary seat fabrics continue the darker theme, with more luxurious textures and colours. Vinyl is no longer used on seatbacks.

There is also a new Onyx Pearl, metallic finish on the centre instrument panel on the Forte, Futura, S and XR. The panel layout has been redesigned, with new heater controls and nickel-paint highlights.

Feature Upgrades

AUII buyers will notice that the AUII is better-appointed than other vehicles in its class.

"Falcon was already recognised as the best value family car and the AUII widens the gap to the competition," Mr Polites said.

The first thing that buyers will notice is the quieter cabin environment, courtesy of an innovative new approach to sound deadening.

Every AUII has a laminated firewall. The technology is new to Australian-made cars and provides substantial benefits in terms of noise, vibration and harshness.

Other features that contribute to a more comfortable driving experience include variable intermittent wipers across the range and a key-out courtesy light feature. There is also an overhead driver console with a sunglasses holder and reading lamps in the headlining of the vehicle.

For the first time, the Forte, Futura, S, XR series and utes all feature an overspeed alert function. The speed alert controls are steering wheel-mounted and features an audible chime and a display on the instrument cluster.

In recognition of the fact that the compact disc is now the standard music medium, AUII Falcons have a 100 watt single slot CD player as standard on Forte, Futura, Falcon S, XR6 HP, as well as XL and XLS ute. Other models have six-stack players mounted in the dash for additional convenience.

The Falcon's audio systems have been upgraded to make the most of the better clarity and texture of CD technology. The 20 watt system presently on the Forte, Futura, S and XR6 HP has been replaced by a 100 watt system. The XL and XLS ute also get the upgrade.

The 250 watt premium sound system with separate amplifier and sub-woofer is standard on Fairmont Ghia and optional on S, XR and Fairmont models.

Safe and Secure

The new Falcon delivers safety enhancements in occupant protection and accident avoidance.

The AUII becomes the first family sedan in Australia to offer a driver and passenger airbag as standard equipment across the passenger car range.

The feature is one of a number of safety upgrades introduced for the AUII.

The Falcon delivers comprehensive crash protection in a wide range of situations. Extensive use of computer aided engineering has resulted in structural enhancements to the car.

"The Falcon safety philosophy is very much about integrating safety into the design of our cars so that all customers benefit. One of the advantages of being part of the Ford global network is that we have access to the tremendous computer modeling and analysis resources of our parent. That simply means a safer car for our customers," Mr Polites said.

Pretensioners

The Falcon also receives pyrotechnic seatbelt pretensioners on front seats across the range. In a severe frontal impact, the pretensioners tighten the front seatbelts by pulling the buckle down, providing occupants with enhanced protection.

Wagon Enhancements

Falcon wagons now have a 3-point lap-sash seatbelt in the rear centre seat, with the retractor integrated into the seat back. The centre child seat anchorage has been moved to the wagon seat back rather than the load floor.



New Brake System

The AUII program also involved enhancements to the Falcon's braking system. The changes deliver better braking performance and improved brake life.

The modifications include bigger pads, thicker rotors, changes to the master cylinder and the inclusion of a higher capacity booster. These changes reduce the possibility of fluid overheating and improve performance during high deceleration stops.

The revisions result in an improved fade performance, as well as an improved pedal set-up for better driver control and a reduced level of brake noise.

The system includes a new twin-pot aluminium-headed front caliper that bolts directly onto a spindle through a cast-iron anchor bracket.

The caliper contains a new non-asbestos organic pad material with 70 per cent increased pad volume, resulting in substantially longer rotor life and lower operating costs for the customer. The use of organic pads also eliminates excessive pad dust on the wheels.

A new, thicker vented rotor (28mm thickness, up from 24mm) has been fitted to improve thermal performance.

The Falcon's ABS system has been recalibrated to provide optimum performance under Australian conditions.

Traction Control

In other enhancements, standard traction control has been extended to Fairmont sedan and wagon.

A Plush Ride

Falcon drivers will be cushioned from the harsh and unforgiving surfaces of Australian roads by a new suspension and wheel set-up that offers a plusher ride.

"The use of standard 16-inch wheels with 60 series tyres will offer an enhanced ride package for all Falcon drivers and we have further improved our suspension settings to take full advantage of the change," Mr Polites said.

Falcon's world class multi-link Independent Rear Suspension has been recalibrated to produce a plusher, quieter and more controlled ride without comprising Falcon's agile handling and steering.

"We believe the new Falcon rides and steers better, while the occupants are better insulated from the working of the suspension and brakes," Mr Polites said.

The Watts Link system has also been revised with similar goals in mind.

On IRS versions, changes have been made to spring rates, jounce bumpers and shock absorber settings. The rear top suspension mount has also been adjusted. The Watts Link set up benefits from new shock settings.

Both Watts Link and IRS versions have a new shock absorber valve design with improved low speed tunability and reduced friction. The front suspension has been equipped with reduced friction ball joints.

Work has been done to improve the efficiency of front anti-roll bar, while a rear anti-roll bar has been added to IRS versions

New Keypad System

The recently-upgraded Smartshield security system has been further enhanced by a new keypad that offers increased peace of mind, especially when driving alone. The keypad, which offers a two-stage door unlock button and panic button, has been introduced across all models, including utilities.

The new keypad has four buttons: a lock button, a two-stage driver/passenger doors unlock button, a boot/liftgate unlock button and panic button. The utility keypad has three buttons: lock, unlock and panic alarm.

A Greener, More Economical Option

From June, the AUII will bring affordable and convenient LPG family motoring to Australians for the first time.

A dedicated LPG option will be available in sedan or wagon form on the six-cylinder Forte, Futura and S with automatic transmissions. The system is already available on XL and XLS utes.

In the dedicated LPG Falcon, the entire standard fuel system has been deleted, including the fuel tank, fuel lines, pump, injectors, fuel rail and charcoal canister. The LPG system which takes its place is a unique design developed by Ford and its alternative fuel partner Tickford.

Dedicated LPG engines are identified by a unique green rocker cover.

"We believe the dedicated LPG vehicle is a real breakthrough in affordable, environmentally-friendly motoring. With growing awareness of environmental issues and spiraling fuel costs, we believe we are onto a winner," Mr Polites said.

The system comprises:

  • high capacity LPG cylinders - 92 litres on the sedan and 115 litres on the wagon.
  • unique engine with revised spark plugs, inductive high tension leads and green rocker cover.
  • unique engine management processor (EECV).
  • sophisticated LPG converter and mixer, with a Ford-developed starting system.
  • fuel gauge and distance-to-empty readout calibrated to the new LPG tanks.

Mr Polites said the LPG-only option made alternative fuel motoring more accessible to buyers.

"With the less complex, single-fuel system, the initial additional expense of LPG motoring is greatly reduced. You are not paying for duplicated systems up front.

"The costs of ownership of LPG motoring are considerably lower than with petrol vehicles.

"The performance you can get from LPG is almost identical to petrol-powered vehicles; range is comparable - in the case of the wagon it's better; fuel gauges have distance to empty and light warning features and storage flexibility in the sedan is no longer compromised by an LPG tank blocking the 60/40 rear seat fold-down feature.

"The savings for business and private motorists alike are considerable. LPG owners also have the satisfaction of knowing they are doing their bit to help the environment," he said.

Flagship with the finer things

Falcon premium buyers will have access to the next generation of satellite navigation systems, as well as a memory seat and mirror system.

Satellite navigation is standard on the LTD and optional on Fairlane, Fairmont Ghia and Fairmont from July.

The new Carin system, which uses global positioning to pinpoint the location of the vehicle, delivers positional accuracy of +/-5 metres even during extended periods without GPS reception.

The database of the CD-Rom provided with the system contains an extensive library of hotels, restaurants, Ford dealers, service centres and tourist attractions. It will feature regional towns and intersecting highways across Australia.

"The system can guide you from Hobart to Darwin, then to Broome and across to Cairns," Mr Polites said.

Mr Polites said the system had been designed to be menu-driven, allowing the driver to operate it without referral to an operating manual.

The voice guidance system operates through the premium sound radio unit and provides guidance by voice and maps on a 12.8cm monitor screen. Addresses, current location and user settings are automatically stored if the power supply is interrupted.

The high resolution monitor displays safe, simple images to the driver and also displays a map of the current destination from a scale of 100 metres to 100km.

A clear voice provides simple guidance instructions, making allowances for speed and proximity to turn or lane change. The user can select a male or female voice and can choose between English and eight other languages. A maximum of two languages can be loaded into the computer at the one time.

A memory seat and mirror system has also been added as standard equipment on the LTD.

The system allows the user to pre-program his or her preferred driving position and mirror set-up through three buttons on the side of the seat. Up to three seat positions and six mirror positions (three for reversing) can be retained in the memory bank, with a simple touch of the button re-activating the preferred position after the settings have been changed by another driver.

The mirror setting for reversing automatically engages when the reverse gear is selected.

More Grunt, More Features for XR

A 200kW sequentially-injected five-litre V8 is now standard equipment on the Falcon XR8.

The torquey V8 produces its maximum power at just 5000rpm, with maximum torque of 420Nm coming at a low-down 3750rpm.

The engine is known for providing ample power throughout the rev band, abundant torque at low revs and great throttle response.

The engine is mated to a standard five-speed manual or an optional four-speed, adaptive-shift automatic transmission.

The engine is identified under the bonnet by a unique engine cover.

The XR range will have a unique braking system that has a more aggressive pedal feel. Owners of IRS models will also be able to specify a premium brake option.

The XR8 sedan also receives a new five-spoke 17 x 8 inch alloy wheel as standard equipment. The new wheel will be standard equipment on XR6 and XR8 utes. The wheel is also optional for other XR models.

The present 17-inch Tickford wheel will be retained as an option for other vehicles in the range

Cruise control has been added to the list of standard features for the XR6 HP.

Inside, there is a new blue-flecked trim scheme, with Konstruct velour on the seat inserts and Comet cloth on the bolsters, sides and back of the seats. The velour also features on the door trim insert panel, while the cloth features on the armrest inserts.

A dark leather trim is available on XR sedans, while there is a new optional Momo leather steering wheel with blue inserts. An optional leather wrapped gear knob or automatic shifter is also available with blue inserts.

A new XR bodykit has been designed to complement the new styling of the AUII, with modified side skirts and a rear skirt, as well as a squarer standard single deck spoiler.

The XR's front bumper and grille have been freshened to mirror the aggressive look of the Falcon V8 racecar, while the trademark quad headlights and ridged hood remain unchanged.

"The XR range has benefited from all of the mainstream Falcons equipment upgrades, while gaining some subtle exterior and interior changes designed to build on their striking appearance," Mr Polites said.

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