Ford hails its lat­est LPG unit

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

A HOT BMW ute, de­buted by BMW on April 1, has be­come one of the best April Fool’s Day jokes of 2011. Be­cause the joke is on you.

That white ute, built on a 3-Se­ries plat­form, is real. Yes, it’s a con­cept but it’s also a fully func­tional car.

It’s also not the only BMW ute. Yes, Aus­tralian golfer Stu­art Ap­pleby has one – a 2000 E39 M5 be­headed and bed­ded in 2008 by De­niliquin-based cus­tom shop South­ern Rod – but BMW has done the deed be­fore.

It chopped a sad E30 M3 of 1986 to be­come a work car that could haul parts around the fac­tory. It’s now even sad­der and sits in a cor­ner of a BMWware­house.

BMW last week put its tongue in its cheek with the an­nounce­ment the M3 ute would be­come the fourth body vari­ant of the M3 fam­ily.

‘‘Un­der the strictest se­crecy, the world’s first high-per­for­mance pickup (re­ally?) has been cre­ated at the BMW M GmbH de­vel­op­ment cen­tre,’’ BMW’s April 1 re­lease pro­claims.

‘‘The sporti­est ex­am­ple by far in this ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory (re­ally? HSV any­one?), the BMW M3 Pickup will fire the imag­i­na­tions of all mo­torists with a deep ap­pre­ci­a­tion of top per­for­mance matched by a keen prac­ti­cal bent.

‘‘309kW/420hp un­der the bon­net and a rear-axle load ca­pac­ity of up to 450kg take the hall­mark BMW M re­la­tion­ship be­tween race-ori­ented driv­ing plea­sure and ev­ery­day util­ity to an en­tirely new level.’’

It adds that the BMW M3 Pickup is ‘‘the first BMW M3 vari­ant in the 25-year-plus his­tory of this model range to come with a trailer tow hitch’’.

‘‘Not­with­stand­ing these un­ques­tion­able stand-out qual­i­ties, the BMW M3 Pickup will not be head­ing for the golf course or se­ries de­vel­op­ment, but will re­tain its sta­tus as an ex­clu­sive one-off,’’ the press re­lease says as re­al­ity sets in.

‘‘It is ear­marked for use as a work­shop trans­port ve­hi­cle for BMWMGmbH.

‘‘With this in mind, the BMW M3 Pickup – un­like a sim­i­lar pre­de­ces­sor built back in the 1980s – has gone through the req­ui­site pro­ce­dures to earn its road cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Which makes it of­fi­cially a truck – but one that puts a whole new spin on the mean­ing of the word.’’ TAXI driv­ers across Aus­tralia can ex­pect some­thing spe­cial in July when Ford puts a hi-tech LPG sys­tem on the road.

The ded­i­cated gas Fal­con is also good news for any­one hit by the ris­ing price of petrol.

The EcoLPi liq­uid phase in­jec­tion prom­ises zero com­pro­mises for the Fal­con’s six­cylin­der en­gine, right up to the XR6, with 27 per cent more power and 10 per cent more torque than the pre­vi­ous E-Gas LPG sys­tem. Fuel con­sump­tion cut by 12-15 per cent.

The new-age LPG sys­tem is com­ing a lit­tle late, a de­lay put down to the en­gi­neer­ing load at Broad­mead­ows for the global T6 pick-up de­vel­op­ment pro­gram, but noth­ing like the six­month over­run on the Eco­Boost four-cylin­der Fal­con that won’t hit show­rooms un­til Jan­uary next year.

Ford says it is us­ing the most up-to-date LPG tech­nol­ogy avail­able, with much-im­proved op­er­a­tion and drive­abil­ity than the pre­vi­ous vapour sys­tem fit­ted to its E-Gas Fal­cons.

The heart of the sys­tem is an in­jec­tion sys­tem that is sim­i­lar to a con­ven­tional petrol en­gine, us­ing a high-pres­sure fuel rail that de­liv­ers liq­uid LPG di­rectly to the in­take port.

So there is no gas con­ver­sion be­fore the liq­uid is fired into the cylin­der for com­bus­tion.

The sys­tem is also more con­trolled and efficient, which pro­vides the boost to per­for­mance while also cut­ting con­sump­tion and CO emis­sions.

‘‘Fal­con EcoLPi of­fers cus­tomers the power, torque and over­all en­gine per­for­mance they ex­pect from a tra­di­tional Aussie six.

‘‘While at the same time it will de­liver the fuel costs of a smaller car,’’ says the pres­i­dent of Ford Aus­tralia, Bob Graziano.

Ford has yet to re­veal the ex­act econ­omy of the LPG sys­tem or the pric­ing.

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