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Launch Story

1 Nov 2005

FORD Performance Vehicles' inclusion of an advanced new automatic gearbox across its Falcon sedan and utility-derived models, as part of the BF series facelift, should net a broader range of buyers.

The ZF 6HP26 six-speed automatic leads a cornucopia of changes that denote the BF FPV F6 Typhoon and GT sedan, and F6 Tornado and Pursuit ute ranges, all of which offer significantly cleaner and more economical (yet no less powerful) engines.

FPV has devised greater visual differentiation between F6 and V8 models, as well as between its lesser Ford-badged BF Falcon/Fairmont brethren.

They include stronger front and rear bumper treatments with more aggressive air intakes, redesigned driving lights and alloy wheels, retro "GT" badging on V8 sedans, revised trim and bold back-catalogue colours such as the 1972 XA Falcon purple and green.

Better brakes and improved equipment levels round out the BF FPV range, released in October.

Ford is the first local manufacturer to offer a six-speed automatic in its indigenous designs, a year after the FPV range switched to the Tremec T56 six-speed manual gearbox.

A $1250 option across the FPV range, the ZF features multiple driving modes within its lower first and taller top (sixth) gear compared to the discontinued four-speed automatic found in the BA.

It is based on the Lepelletier gear set, which is constructed by connecting a planetary gear to a double planetary gear set commonly found in four-speed autos.

For FPVs application, the German ZF company fits extra clutch plates in each clutch pack to up the torque capacity to 600Nm compared to regular BF Falcon's 500Nm maximum.

The Tiptronic-style sequential shift and "PEF" performance modes - now housed in a new-design lever that offers better movement - continue in the six-speeder, as do improved variations of Driver Recognition software that adapts the transmission's change points according to how the vehicle is being driven.

The latter now features a grading system, starting at "zero" (sedate, economy-minded driving) to "200" (full-on enthusiastic hooning), and adapts the gearbox accordingly.

Early downshifting, holding of the gears through corners or on hills, or when fast launches are required are some of this gearbox's attributes.

It also includes Grade Logic Control (providing extra engine braking downhill when sufficient brake pedal pressure is recorded), upshift prevention (at zero throttle, when coasting downhill, the gearbox won't go beyond second gear to prevent a runaway scenario), and Emergency Downshifts, which selects the lower gear in emergency acceleration mode and holds on to it for maximum oomph).

In the turbo six during maximum throttle, the driver has 250rpm more top-end to play with (6250rpm) since the auto allows the engine speed to get closer to the rev-limiter.

Towing situations are also recognised and adapted to by the ZF unit. It also includes an overheating sensor that protects the gearbox from damage to the point of shutting out gears in extreme cases.

Meanwhile, the modifications wrought by the Prodrive powertrain team to the existing turbocharged 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder and 5.4-litre 32-valve V8 engines are necessary for Euro II emissions certification due on January 1, 2006.

In both, Hydrocarbon pollution is cut by two-thirds to 0.2 grams per kilometre, reducing Carbon Monoxide from 4.0g/km to 2.3g/km and Oxides of Nitrogen to 0.15g/km.

New testing procedures also mean the Euro III engines must now comply from "start-up" as well as -7 degrees Celsius temperatures, while a new on-board diagnostics system will inform the driver if emissions ever exceed their designated outputs.

In V8 cars, noise pollution is also lessened by two decibels to 75dB thanks to a the V8 getting a dual-entry ram airbox from the F6 (that promotes clearer airflow and cuts induction roar) as well as a new twin exhaust system.

Four-into-one extractors from each bank of cylinders that join into a twin two-and-one-quarter inch exhaust with trick new tri-flow silencers deal with the gases and sound flow while trapezoidal-design six-inch twin pipes add a '70s muscle-car look to the FPV V8.

Despite these and other exhaust-related cleansing, both engine varieties maintain their specific outputs but drink slightly less compared to the superseded BA MkII models released in October 2004.

For the BF's Boss 290 V8-fitted GT and Pursuit vehicles that means 290kW of power at 5500rpm and 520Nm of torque at 4500rpm, while the F6 records a steady 270kW at 5250rpm and 550Nm torque-top from 2000 to 2500rpm.

Fuel consumption slides up to 2.6 per cent for the V8s (recording 14.9, 15.0 and 15.1L/100km for the GT manual, GT auto and Pursuit ute auto respectively), and by 3.6 per cent to 13.5L/100km for the F6 manual.

Most frugal of all BF FPVs are the automatic F6s, recording 13.0L/100km in the ADR 81/01 combined test.

The F6 models are now equipped with 18-inch alloy wheels and 245/40 Dunlop SP9000 tyres, with a 19-inch 245/35 combo - standard on V8 models - also available.

All models bar the GT-P and Super Pursuit now have a four-piston Brembo front-calliper and a single-piston rear calliper set-up that the aforementioned duo previously had as standard in BA guise.

For BF the top-liners now have "ultra high-performance" six-piston Brembo brakes front callipers of monoblock construction, while the GT-P also adds a four-piston rear calliper to its stoppers.

Still on safety and security, all utilities now have traction control as standard, while a new lockable hard tonneau cover is optional.

Buyers now have a greater degree of customisation available on their cars interior trim is now of a higher standard while F6 Tornado utility buyers can now specify premium audio and climate control.

FPV says the six-speed automatic is the final piece of a puzzle that began with the 2002 BA's new chassis and continued with last year's six-speed manual gearbox for the BA MkII.

"This is the first time we have been able to launch a new model with a complete line-up and, in turn, offer customers the widest possible choice in high-performance vehicles," says FPV MD David Flint.

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