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Close watch on hot Fiesta

Sports Technologies: Fiesta ST produces 110kW and 190Nm of torque.

Ford Australia may extend its XR moniker beyond next year's hot Focus to the Fiesta

21 Nov 2005

FORD Australia is considering adding an XR performance derivative of the Fiesta following the enthusiastic response to the turbocharged Focus XR5 at the Australian International Motor Show last month.

"We will see how it (the XR5) goes," Ford Australia president Tom Gorman told GoAuto. "Any sports variant must make economic sense for us." The XR5 goes on sale around May next year and will be a small-volume "halo" car for the Focus model range.

Mr Gorman said that while no firm decision had been made on extending the XR moniker to other small cars, he was well aware of the success Volkswagen was having with its Golf GTI – and of its decision to bring in the Polo GTI.

Ford of Europe builds a Fiesta ST (Sports Technologies), which has a 110kW/190Nm 2.0-litre Duratec four-cylinder engine that enables the small hatchback to reach 100km/h in 8.0 seconds, on its way to a top speed of more than 220km/h.

It also has lowered suspension, 17-inch wheels and various exterior adornments.

Apart from the hot Fiesta, Mr Gorman said Ford Australia was also looking at other options with its Focus, including a wagon model and turbo-diesel versions.

"We are looking at almost everything," he said, adding that all new additions would need to be economically viable.

Mr Gorman also said Focus sales were now on the upswing, despite supply problems from the assembly plant in South Africa. These issues will not be fully reconciled before early next year.

Ford has alleviated some demand issues by redirecting some models bound for New Zealand. The XR5 will essentially be a rebadged version of the production Focus ST released at the recent Frankfurt motor show.

It borrows its 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine from the Volvo S40 and pops it into a five-door Focus hatch.

The engine develops 166kW/320Nm and is mated to a six-speed manual, while sports suspension lowers the car’s overall height by 25mm. The car also features larger brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels, low-profi le high-performance tyres and a discrete bodykit.

Ford Australia is in the process of finalising pricing, which it says should start from around $35,000.

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