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NAIAS, New Models, And A Rant On Acronyms Used As Words: Ford Edition

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On: Fri, Jan 15, 2010 at 1:42PM | By: John Welch

NAIAS, New Models, And A Rant On Acronyms Used As Words: Ford Edition

Ford has been on a surprising roll lately. Anyone who has spent time in a Five Hundred or Ranger recently could safely assume that the FoMoCo is dead in the water. Not the case, not even close. Allan Mullaly, Boeing-Mender extraordinaire, has lent his cost-cutting, product-consolidating skills to the Blue Oval, and in three years they have gone from also-ran to a recurring nightmare in the Toyoda house hold. (Using Toyota's proprietary hybrid technology against them; brilliant!).

So, along comes 2010 and with it the most exciting new product from Ford in a long time. A new 5.0 liter V8 (now with four-lobed bang-sticks riding in it's aluminum heads) for the Mustang, a new 6.2 for the SVT Raptor, and, most importantly (volume-wise), a new Euro-centric Focus . . . not to mention Lincoln updates and the frighteningly kewl Scorpion diesel. Mosey inside the post for all the gory details . . .

Ahem, I had to get all medieval on "Reveals" yesterday because the very notion of using a verb as a noun makes my brain twist into all manner of uncomfortable origami shapes, making hours of massage and pounds of medication necessary to get me back to normal. Those tri-weekly visits to the Xanax-Colonic and Shiatsu clinic are seriously draining my bank account. Unfortunately enough for me, Ford has decided it wants to turn an acronym into an word ('SHO' stands for Super-High-Output, not the mutherfreaking word "Show", EFF!), and now I'm frantically dialing my good friend Wang-Su, in need of a brutal mood adjuster. Pills in one hole, kidney stones out the other, I always say. Thanks, Ford; Wang-Su really appreciates it . . .

Aside from that, Ford has been kicking ass and taking names. The car that SHO is attached to, the 'new' Taurus, has fooled so many people its production has required the hiring of a second shift. Journalists universally praise strong product like the F-150 and Mustang, two vehicles which were more capable than their competitors before the benefits of 2010; now they may just be the class-leaders.

In 2009 Ford was able to introduce several products we desperately needed on these shores: namely the Transit Connect work van. An Econoline is just too much van for the local Edible Bouquet delivery guy. The Euro-van concept has always been hit-or-miss in the States, often too little van (The VW Eurovan) or way way too much van (The Dodge/International/Mercedes Sprinter, an excellent vehicle but probably a little cost prohibitive). The Ford Transit Connect falls nicely into the moderate space left by those two also-rans, and it is selling well because of it. Mullaly has a big ole crush on it too.

There are three new V8s making their official debuts at the North American International Auto Show. The first is the nasty new 6.2 liter Ford has wrangled under the SVT Raptor's hood. There is also the new 'Scorpion' V8 for heavy duty trucks. "Trick" is the only way to describe this motor, equipped with a complete valve-train for each valve . . . basically, and also utilizing reverse-flow technology which routes exhaust through the traditional intake side of the engine. The valley of this V8's block directs exhaust into the turbo while fresh air is routed into the sides of the engine block, where one might expect to find headers. Very trick stuff.

The big news, however, is the 'Coyote" 5.0 liter V8. Students of the waning decades of the twentieth century, the eighties, and nineties remember the moniker "Five point Oh" fondly. Though slightly anemic from the factory, the old pushrod five liter could be warmed up fairly easily: a set of aluminum heads, gears, and a cam away from embarrassing Corvettes.

The new V8 has the makings of a legend. Four overhead cams (why did Ford ever bother with three valves again? Didn't Mercedes already prove that design to be slightly unnecessary?) spin a lightened valve train to the tune of 412ish wild ponies. Hooked to a new six-speed, this engine gives the Mustangs updated (and, I think, Gorgeous) styling some actual bite. The Mustang was able to best its rivals while packing a heavier engine that made only 315 bhp (compared to the Camaro's 400 to 426 and the Challenger's 375 to 425 bhp ratings). Imagine what it will do with a hundred pounds off the nose and an extra hundred horsepower? Now, about that solid rear axle . . .

The NAIAS also features the release of "MyFord" driver connection technology. Basically it keeps you informed on everything you never thought you cared about. I hate computers, and I don't care. Here is a link in case you do . . .

Lincoln showed up sporting an updated MKX, new fascias (really? I cain't tell . . .) and touch-sensitive interior leading the MKX into 2011. I just can't get fired up about porky S/CUVs, but this one is as tolerable as they get. The Ecoboost 6 is always nice, providing lag-free thrust unusual in a vehicle like this. I do not trust "touch-sensitive" technology at all, however; how long until these screens and controls are ruined by sticky-fingered kids, or overly distracted, latte-drinking Soccer Moms? Pretty quickly, I think, but we'll have to wait and see . . .

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the big effing deal, the 2011 Ford Focus. Under Mullaly's "One Ford" plan, we may witness the death of the grand Australian GT, but we also get to have the same Focus that the rest of the world enjoys. The policy is designed to consolidate Ford's global product offerings, saving money and time in the process. Not good for Australia, pretty damn good for us.

The new Focus is identical across oceans and continents, so it appears to have been styled with several cultural tastes in mind, at once. This makes for a car that is visually pleasing and revolting at the same time. It's all about the angles with this baby, and some of them are showing unwanted cottage cheese. Dead-on view of the front fascia, PUKE! Move the perspective to a slight three-quarter-view, Wah-la! Beauty rendered in sheet metal. An interesting problem for a car to have, but it is a problem experienced only from outside the new Focus. The interior is, to put it simply, a work of economy-car art.

Omigawd, I was just about to praise the Focus interior when I noticed that Ford's media page has labeled their image galleries thusly: "Focus Reveal". NOOOO! AHHHRRrrrGGHHHH!! "Unveiling", you over-stuffed marketing English-language murderers! "Unveiling"!!!

Ahhk, *cough*, Excuse me. Anyway, the interior . . yes, the interior. Pure, unadulterated genius. The materials are unbelievable looking, the ergonomics straight from all of my "Trapped in Star Wars" daydreams. How on earth is this interior production-spec for a $20,000 car?! I am seriously impressed with what I have seen, and I can't wait to sit in and judge one for myself. Ford has really delivered with the new Focus, marketing Newspeak aside. Now, what is the deal with those inorganic F-16 intakes on the front bumper? Or the strange curves and flow of the rear tailights? If I'm inside the Focus, I won't care one bit . . .

A video of the Focus UNVEILING produced by AutoWeek.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



imwithcoco | 6:45PM (Fri, Jan 15, 2010)

I hate to say it but the new Focus is so much better than the last version that I can overlook the horrible triangles. Just think it could be worse. Ford could have used the front end of the US Fiesta. Why did Ford have to make these changes to the US versions when the Euro versions look so damn good?


imwithcoco | 6:49PM (Fri, Jan 15, 2010)

Does anyone think that candy apple red paint will be a standard or even an optional production color? I'm not a big fan of red but that color is hot in person. Ford used this on a concept displayed at the Tampa Auto Show last year. Just incredible!

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