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Old 17-04-2018, 02:08 PM   #1
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Default Ford Performance Launched in Aus


Ford Performance launched in Australia
Ford Ranger Raptor super-ute and Fiesta ST hot hatch to headline Blue Oval performance brand as Ford axes mainstream Fiesta

The Blue Oval’s global Ford Performance brand has been launched in Australia today and it will be headlined by the wicked Ford Ranger Raptor and new Fiesta ST.

However, at the same time, Ford Australia confirmed it will axe mainstream Fiesta models from its line-up and there’s still no sign of any Ford Performance versions of the Mustang, which will be the centre-piece of Ford Australia's return to the Australian Supercars Championship next year.

The Ranger Raptor super-ute will become the sole Ford Performance model available in Australia when it goes on sale in September, priced from under $75,000.

The Fiesta ST hot hatch will join it on sale in selected Ford showrooms in early 2019, following its European launch next month.

New-generation Ford Focus ST and RS (and potentially Fiesta RS) hot hatches are expected to follow, as is an ST version of Ford’s belated Territory replacement -- the Endura due here later this year -- as previewed by North America's new Edge ST.

Ford has also committed to releasing (in the US this year) an ST version of the larger Explorer SUV not sold here, and to deliver 12 new Ford Performance models by 2020.

However, apart from the upcoming limited-edition Mustang Bullitt, there will be no additions to the Mustang coupe and convertible range, upgraded 2018 versions of which arrive here in August.

That means Australians will continue to be denied access to Ford Performance-developed Mustang models like the GT350R and upcoming Shelby GT500.

Like the Ford GT supercar -- Ford Performance’s flagship model -- the hottest Mustang models continue to be off-limits for right-hand drive markets like Australia.

So apart from the return of official Ford backing to the Australian Supercars Championship under the Ford Performance banner, the Blue Oval performance brand’s involvement with the Mustang will remain limited to a number of chassis and engine parts.

Ford Performance Parts for the Mustang and the Mustang Performance Pack continue to be available via Ford Australia's official dealer network, in the same way that Mountune kits are offered for the previous Fiesta and Focus ST. Last year Ford Australia backflipped on its plan to release an official 500kW Roush supercharger kit for the Mustang.

The new Ranger Raptor and Fiesta ST will form distinctly different bookends for the Ford Performance brand in Australia, with the Endura ST potentially slotting in between in terms of price and timing.

We’ve already written reams about Ford’s first Ranger Raptor, which will also become the official recovery vehicle for next year’s Supercars series.

Last June motoring.com.au also exclusively revealed the fact the Fiesta ST will be the only new-generation Fiesta sold here.

Ford boss Graham Whickman confirmed the wind-up of Fiesta as a mass-market model at today's announcement.

That’s because Ford’s two Thai plants will cease Fiesta and Focus production, being used instead for expanded Ranger volume. This will force Ford Australia to source its small cars from Europe.

Whickman also pointed to changing buyer habits, that is, the flight from light and small cars to SUVs. But in reality both Focus and Fiesta have struggled to generate volume Down Under. Focus was outsold five-to-one by its most successful competitor in 2017. Fiesta sold less than a tenth of its top light car counterpart.

Ford revealed its fourth-generation Focus last week and it will be available here in hatch, sedan, wagon and crossover forms by the end of this year, but it is yet to unveil ST or RS versions.

The latest Fiesta, meantime, was released in Europe last year and the range-topping Ford Performance-tuned ST version will be launched in Europe in May.

As we reported when it debuted at the 2017 Geneva motor show, the new Fiesta ST will be produced in both three-door and five-door forms. Manual-only it is powered by a 147kW/290Nm 1.5-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that propels it to 100km/h in 6.5sec.

Also making the pint-size front-drive hatch a formidable foe for Volkswagen’s upcoming Polo GTI -- as well as the Peugeot 208 GTi, Renault Clio RS and Suzuki Swift Sport – will be patented ‘force-vectoring’ rear suspension, selectable drive modes and the option of launch control and a Quaife limited-slip differential just like the one in the limited-edition Focus RS.
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