Why Fal­con dare not fail

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Paul Gover -

THE first press drive of the FG Fal­con got me think­ing about the car’s place in Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing. De­spite what Ford Aus­tralia ex­ec­u­tives have been say­ing, this is a make-or-break car.

It ar­rives at a time when Fal­con sales are at a his­tor­i­cal low, when cus­tomers have turned away from tra­di­tional Aussie fam­ily cars, when the Toy­ota Corolla has just com­pleted a first-quar­ter reign as Aus­tralia’s favourite car ahead of the VE Com­modore, and when there are more ques­tions than an­swers about Ford’s fu­ture and lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing in gen­eral.

This year could eas­ily emerge as a wa­ter­shed, thanks to the end of lo­cal Mit­subishi man­u­fac­tur­ing, a sec­ond year of $1 mil­lion­plus sales, ac­cel­er­at­ing change in show­room tastes and — per­haps most im­por­tant — a Fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­dus­try and its sup­port pro­gram be­yond 2010.

Against that back­ground, the FG Fal­con is crit­i­cal.

The new Ford must do well to give Ford Aus­tralia any chance of con­tin­u­ing lo­cal pro­duc­tion of the Fal­con af­ter it be­gins build­ing the com­pact Fo­cus at Broad­mead­ows, it must hit the sweet spot in show­rooms de­spite the aw­ful re­sults for the BF Fal­con in the past 18 months, and it must prove the Ford team can still sell cars.

Early signs are good be­cause Ford has done a lot of deep en­gi­neer­ing im­prove­ments to the FG. But we won­der how the rel­a­tively mild body makeover will go. Some peo­ple are al­ready say­ing the FG is not dif­fer­ent enough from the BF.

The ar­rival of the FG gave me an ex­cuse, to­gether with the need for some week­end ute ac­tion, for a re­minder drive in the VE Com­modore.

It showed all the things I like about the home­grown Holden, from its bril­liant ride and han­dling to the comfy cabin, im­pres­sive equip­ment and a look that is dif­fer­ent.

But I also re­mem­bered why I hate the cheapie cen­tre con­sole, how the SS gauges are hard to read and — the big one — how Holden has cre­ated huge blind spots with its wide-sec­tion wind­screen pil­lars and small rear-view mir­rors.

Tough as old utes: the Holden VE SS ute — bril­liant ride, fine han­dling. Cen­tre con­sole? For­get it.

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