Ford: NZ looks to corral Mustang

By Matt Greenop

2013 Ford Shelby GT500 on track at Road Atlanta. Photo / Supplied
2013 Ford Shelby GT500 on track at Road Atlanta. Photo / Supplied

The mighty Ford Mustang is set for right-hand-drive production, meaning there's a better than average chance that it will find its way to New Zealand from 2015.

Mustang will be built for the United Kingdom, and it's been reported that Australian designers and engineers will have a hand in the project as part of their global development contribution.

Though Ford Australia is being tight-lipped about any Aussie connection, with Ford Performance Vehicles' experience of big rear-drive cars and the impressive Australian developed supercharged V8, it seems a given. Take into account the uncertainty surrounding the Falcon after 2015 - and the likelihood that it will be replaced by the front-drive, global-platform Taurus.

Ford New Zealand managing director Neale Hill told Driven the pony car would be seriously considered for this country, especially if it was going to be sold across the Tasman.

"You don't have an iconic vehicle like the Mustang available and not consider it very seriously, especially considering Ford's performance history."

Hill admitted several privately imported, RHD-converted Mustangs are on our roads, boding well for the car's possible future here, but noted that an official announcement on the Falcon has not be made, although its demise is widely expected.

Ford president Alan Mulally announced on Friday that after 50 years, the Mustang finally will be sold in Europe, including in right-hand-drive form for Britain.

"We heard it here first - Mustang, the American icon, is coming to Europe," he said.

"We will have more details to share in the future. One thing we can say for sure, what has made Mustang such a sensation in the US for nearly 50 years soon will be enjoyed by customers in Europe."

Officially, Ford Australia is non-committal about the possibilities for Mustang in Australia, with public affairs director Sinead Phipps saying: "At this stage, Mustang has been confirmed for Europe but nothing further, so I can't speculate further than that."

However, she did not rule out the sixth-generation coupe for Australia, which is under development in the United States. She also did not rule out an Australian role in the project.

Ford Australia designers and engineers have been enlisted to help with some aspects of the Mustang development.

All of Ford's global design centres are likely to have been asked to submit a design theme for the car, but the Melbourne-based team is believed to be helping out with at least some aspects to the design and engineering of the rear-drive sports coupe.

The new Mustang reportedly will break with tradition by dispensing with the live rear axle, instead employing an independent rear end.

Ford Australia has extensive experience with such suspension systems via its locally built Falcon, including high-performance variants such as the supercharged V8 Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) GT.

Europe is likely to miss out on the V8 Mustang, instead making do with a more fuel-efficient high-output V6 and possibly a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder.

No 'Stang range in Australia would be complete without a V8, and the local model is certain to get the latest version of Ford's 5-litre Coyote, perhaps the supercharged Miami version developed in Australia by FPV - the official Ford hot shop that has just been brought in-house by Ford Australia.

In the US, the current Mustang has a choice of 227kW 3.7-litre V6 or 331kW 5.0-litre V8 engines. A 5.8-litre supercharged version produced by Shelby, called the GT500, is armed with a mega 494kW - more than an Australian V8 Supercar racer.

In Australia and New Zealand, FPV's GT range is powered by a 335kW/570Nm locally developed supercharged version of the Coyote, an engine FPV hoped would one day become part of the official Ford family.

When that engine was developed, British-based Prodrive was the majority stakeholder in FPV, with Ford owning 49 per cent.

The Ford Mustang was launched in the US in 1964, creating a sensation around the world and prompting a host of imitators.

-Additional reporting Go Auto

- NZ Herald

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