Sunshine Coast Ford buyers are in raptures
HEAR the bang and crackle from the Ford Focus RS exhaust and it revives blue oval passion.
The rail-like performance of the quickest Focus you can buy whets the appetite for more excitement from Ford which is about to reach showrooms.
Following the departure of Falcon and FPV, Ford is rekindling its performance fire.
Destined for a return to Supercars racing next year in the Mustang, part of a deal between Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske and Tickford Racing, the marque is also launching a range of high-octane road-going machines to feed Australia's growing appetite for vehicles with extra punch.
Leading the charge is a much-anticipated hardcore Ranger Raptor. Starting from $74,990 before on-roads, the incoming Raptor is powered by a 2.0-litre twin turbo diesel four-cylinder engine matched to a 10-speed auto and has a maximum towing capacity of 2500kg.
That engine is good for 157kW/500Nm to power the part-time, dual-range four-wheel drive package. There are paddle-shifters - a first for any Ranger - and six terrain modes, the toughest being Baja, copied from the US-market F150 that contests the desert events.
Raptor will be easy to spot on the road, with a unique front bumper and a punchy "FORD” stamped grille. Inside are unique seats and a leather sports steering wheel.
Ranger continues to dominate sales locally, and 13 Sunshine Coast buyers have already put their money down to be first in line when the Raptor arrives mid-September.
Pacific Ford sales manager Alister Eiseman admits there have been some reservations around the Raptor's engine capacity - the standard Ranger is powered by a 3.2-litre turbo diesel generating 147kW/470Nm - but he expects a demonstrator vehicle will quickly convert any sceptics with the enhanced look, handling and off road ability.
The region's obsession with Mustang also shows no sign of slowing.
All 10 of Pacific Ford's complete allocation of the Mustang Bullitt, a special edition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the legendary film, have been sold ahead of its October arrival.
Featuring the exclusive highland green colour scheme and based on the GT fastback variant, Bullitt will have a raft of additional features. If the US variant is any guide, Aussie derivatives should have more grunt from the V8, a rortier exhaust soundtrack, minimal external badging and matching green stitching on the leather trim inside.
Bullitt features one of the most legendary car chases in cinematic history. The 10-minute sequence follows Steve McQueen at the wheel of a 1968 Mustang GT fastback as he chases two hit-men through the streets of San Francisco.
"They will all have individual build numbers,” Eiseman said.
"When they announced it mid last month, we had orders straight away. We had people waiting to see if it was coming.
"The new 2018 model Mustang is the same, we have orders on them already which we will start to see in July.”
Mustang is also inspiring buyers from ranging demographics. There's retirees, women and youngsters all keen to ride the pony.
As for the engine choice? About 90% are opting for the V8 ahead of the 2.3-litre Ecoboost four-cylinder.
Joining the Ford Performance early next year will be the Ford Fiesta ST.
Sure to be a pocket-rocket, the German-built hot-hatch will be powered by a 147kW three-cylinder turbocharged engine and matched exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission.
"When you look at the success we had with FPV, this new Ford Performance line-up is going to be a great thing moving forward,” Eiseman said.
"It's exciting. We have an outstanding portfolio of performance cars.”
The launch of the Ford Performance range coincides with Ford's announcement of returning to Supercars racing in 2019.
Joining the current Mustang, Ford Fiesta ST, Focus RS and Focus RS Limited Edition over the next year will be: 2019 Fiesta ST, 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor, 2019 Ford Mustang GT Convertible 10-speed, 2019 Ford Mustang GT Convertible 6-speed manual, 2019 Ford Mustang GT Fastback 10-speed, 2019 Ford Mustang GT Fastback 6-speed manual, 2019 Ford Mustang GT Bullitt (Limited Edition model).
The Ford Ranger Raptor will also become the official recovery vehicle of the Supercars Championship.