Ford Australia has used the latest global technology to design a world class car, totally dedicated to the Australian way of life. That's the message from the company's Vice President, Product Development, Ian Vaughan.
According to Mr Vaughan, the key advantage of being a unique Australian design centre is the achievement of a car with a particular personality - the personality of the active Australian.
"AU Falcon is a multi-purpose vehicle" he said. "It can be a luxurious sedan, a fleet rep's car, a family station wagon, a thrilling sports sedan or all of the above.
"Falcon is equally at home in business or in leisure. The tradesperson can stow the step ladder inside, or tow the cement mixer during the week and carry skis, bikes or canoes at the weekend.
"Or it can pull the caravan or boat when on holidays" he said.
"The list of new, world class technology features is extensive. AU Falcon has traction control tailored for Australian gravel roads, fingertip radio controls for driver convenience and safety and improvements in serviceability, to reduce the cost of ownership.
"AU Falcon has a real personality and is fantastic to drive - we can't wait to get it out to the public."
Mr Vaughan said Ford Australia's substantial investment in AU Falcon represented a huge commitment by Ford to sustain its leadership role in the Australian car industry.
"The AU is a brand new car to carry the Falcon name plate through the next decade, in both the Australian and export markets" he said.
He said that AU had extended Falcon's durability leadership. "We have doubled the test life of much of the vehicle, reflecting our goal to provide the lowest cost of ownership and the highest resale value in Australian large cars.
"Falcon can take a bit of abuse and come back for more".
Mr Vaughan said AU Falcon's design represented the start of the next design trend, signalling the end of the softer shapes of the early 1990s.
"The world has seen some stunning interpretations of Ford's new Edge design in the GT90 show car, Ka, Puma, Cougar and Focus" he said. "AU Falcon is another exciting interpretation of this trend.
"It manifests in crisper, more structured surfaces which are also seen in other areas of design, including architecture.
"The shape delivers more space on the inside while being smaller on the outside. The higher roof line provides more interior headroom and there is much more luggage space in the boot.
"Signature design elements include large triangular headlamps and tail lights, throwing out more light both front and rear.
"And the XR series' front end makes a really strong statement, with its twin round headlamps".
He said the interiors were designed for a wide range of Australian buyers.
"There are cool grey interiors for hot climates, cloth trims for seat comfort and sophisticated black interiors - including full leather - for luxury Fairmont and Ghia buyers.
"Model differentiation, both interior and exterior - always part of the Falcon/Fairmont story - is further increased with AU".
Mr Vaughan said the big story was in the new suspension designs. "We wanted to provide a full range of suspensions, to cater for the full range of Australian needs, so we bit the bullet and are offering several multi-link suspension solutions" he said.
"All models get the new double wishbone front suspension, Euroshocks and linear rack and pinion steering system, which will further enhance Falcon's leading steering precision and front suspension control.
"The lower wishbone now separates wheel impact loads from noise transmission paths and represents state of the art suspension design and steering linearity.
"The base model Falcon Forte features Watts multi-link rear suspension, a design which has proved itself on prior models as the optimum for almost all road conditions and particularly for towing. Optional independent rear suspension is available.
"Standard on Fairmont Ghia is the double wishbone multilink IRS, which gives full suspension travel and control without the wheel angle compromises of a semi trailing arm system.
The CAE Contribution
According to Mr Vaughan, AU Falcon's 25 percent stiffer body structure - designed using Computer Aided Engineering - is vital to the performance of the new suspensions. "It also results in a car 35 kilograms lighter" he said.
"Weight reductions have been derived from computer generated body structure sections, the new BHP bake hardenable steel and further introduction of aluminium in engine and cross-members".
He said another win had been excellent body crash safety performance results, giving progressive bodyshell crush characteristics with no need for add-on restraint devices. "Coupled with new primary safety benefits in steering, handling and traction control, AU Falcon delivers world class safety".
Engine Design & Fuel Economy
Mr Vaughan said another major win for Ford was in engine design and fuel economy. "The new Intech engine retains the perfect balance of an in-line six and now wants to be revved above 3000 rpm.
"The car delivers eight percent better fuel economy and equals the economy of the two litre Escort of 1980.
"The high torque engine has always been the mainstay of Falcon's acceleration and towing performance" he said. "We've held onto our 357 Newton metres of torque in the base engine and added Variable Camshaft Timing for more output from Fairmont Ghia.
"There has also been further improvement in exhaust emissions. We have reduced AU Falcon total exhaust emissions by 54 per cent from the 1996 EL Falcon. An AU Falcon I6 auto emits 10 per cent fewer gaseous emissions than the 1987 Laser 1.6l three-speed auto."
Mr Vaughan said the Falcon offered buyers a contemporary design that retained the traditional strengths of the Falcon, while extending the appeal of the car to a new, younger customer profile.
"The Falcon is a world class design. It incorporates leading edge technology and thoughtful innovations with the versatility and robustness demanded by the Australian lifestyle," he said.