The battle of the Detroit auto makers moves to Australia’s Melbourne auto show this month, as local subsidiaries fire salvos of new vehicles at show-goers in an attempt to capture customers.
Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. leads the charge with the public debut of its make-or-break all-new Ford FG Falcon sedan.
GM Holden Ltd. shoots back with the unveiling of its Coupe 60 performance concept. Named to celebrate the 60th birthday of Holden’s original car, the 48/215, the show vehicle has a 6.0L V-8 engine with active fuel management and calibrated to run on E85 fuel.
Performance Vehicles Pty. Ltd. counters by unwrapping its new GT and F6 sedans, only to see Holden Special Vehicles counterthrust with possibly the fastest road-legal supercar ever produced in Australia – the 7.0L V-8 W427 with 496 battle-ready horses under its hood.
Ford Australia President Bill Osborne says the long-awaited, next-generation Falcon is an exceptional large-car package that delivers outstanding performance, fuel efficiency, refinement and safety to meet the needs of a wide variety of customers.
The all-new FG Falcon goes on sale in May, and additional information relating to specification and pricing will be released at launch.
Ford also musters international support from the new, European-built 2.2L Mondeo turbodiesel wagon, calling it a fuel-efficient, safety-laden sports-styled wagon with high-end features and class-leading performance.
“We’re taking this opportunity to gauge show-goers’ reactions to this exhilarating new model, as we believe its inclusion could add another exciting option to the Ford passenger-vehicle lineup,” Osborne says.
Ford brings plenty of other reinforcements to the show, displaying its XT, XR and G Series Falcon sedans, 6-cyl. and V-8 FPV models, plus the Falcon Ute.
Rod Barrett, FPV general manager, says the Melbourne exhibition, Australia’s only auto show this year, is providing the public its first close-up look at the new performance models ahead of their release in June.
“Our new model range offers enthusiasts the ultimate in performance engineering, luxury appointments and sports styling,” he says, noting
FPV has repositioned its high-performance sedan and Ute model variants, with eight vehicles divided between the GT and F6 series families.
“It is all about growing the brand and attracting new customers,” Barrett says. “The GT series continues our strong iconic heritage, while the F6 series caters to a new segment of enthusiasts who prefer a slick turbocharged 6-cyl. to a thundering V-8.”
Not to be outgunned, GM Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mark Reuss says the production-ready, performance-enhanced Holden Coupe 60 concept is based onCorp.’s global rear-wheel-drive platform shared with the VE Commodore. The rear end and wheelbase have been shorted to emphasize the length of the cabin and nose.
The Coupe not only offers a glimpse at the auto maker’s future direction in design and engineering but also its sophisticated new engine technologies. Racing-derived enhancements include a full flat underbody, rear-underbody air diffuser, functional rear deck-lid spoiler and taillamps featuring light-emitting diodes.
The interior includes 1-piece carbon-fiber bucket seats featuring leather and suede pads and a sports-inspired flat-bottomed steering wheel, integrated shift-light display and liquid-crystal display sports instrument cluster.
“(The) Coupe 60 is Holden’s 60th anniversary gift to its fans worldwide,” Reuss says. “It highlights Holden’s heritage of RWD performance, while looking ahead to the potential offered by new technologies and materials.
“This is a vehicle I know our designers would dearly love to see go into production, but for the moment it has to remain a concept only.”
Meanwhile, Reuss calls Holden Special Vehicles’ W427 Australia’s first supercar. It’s massive U.S.-sourced 7.0L LS7 V-8 engine kicks out 472 lb.-ft. (640 Nm) of torque. The car will cost between A$125,000- A$140,000 ($116,710-$130,718) when it’s released in July.
HSV Marketing Manager Paul McDonnell says the W427 will take the performance division to the next level and is indicative of an internal shift within the company.
“This is the ultimate Australian performance car,” says McDonnell. “It’s the sort of thing no other Australian manufacturer can offer yet.”
HSV Managing Director Scott Grant says the W427 is a tribute to how far the performance company has come in just 20 years. “To be able to produce a vehicle of these proportions is truly remarkable,” he says, adding that it also will be one of the safest cars HSV has ever put on the road.
A new 6-piston front braking system provides a 50% increase in pad area, while the W427 also receives a revised electronic-stability control calibration, six airbags, improved handling and new Magnetic Ride Control settings.
Additionally, the car is equipped with a bimodal active exhaust system to improve noise quality and back-pressure management.
The program will see the LS7 engine being fitted in Australia, along with the dry-sump system and a range of other engineering features.
“We are looking at opportunities to allow owners to visit HSV and view the unique manufacturing process that goes into building this car,” Grant says.
Just four built-to-order HSV W427s will be produced a week. Each will be individually numbered and accompanied by a unique customer loyalty program. “We can build as many (units) as customers desire,” Grant says.
Newly appointed Reuss, attending his first Oz auto show, says Australians are known for their love of cars and GM Holden is renowned for coming up with vehicles to match those high expectations.
“With the introduction of the new VE Sportwagon and further improvements to the top-selling VE sedan range, we continue to improve the choice and value for money that customers can expect from 60 years of building cars for Australia,” he says.