Australia auto news

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Ford Australia reveals updated Territory, Falcon via Twitter

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Ford, Australia

2015 Ford Territory

Ford may have tied together much of its global lineup under the One Ford campaign, but one market where it still offers unique products is Australia. That will soon draw to a close as well, but before it does, the Blue Oval's Aussie operations are rolling out refreshed versions of its two unique products. For the moment, Ford isn't revealing much in the way of powertrain details, but it has shown off a couple of snaps of the revised products on its in-market Twitter feed.

First up is the new Territory. The SUV is neither based on a front-drive crossover platform nor on a truck frame, but shares its rear-drive underpinnings with the Falcon, taking it a step beyond the Falcon wagon alongside which it sits in Ford's Aussie range. Like the outgoing third-generation SZ Territory, the facelifted version is dominated by a narrow grille and larger front air dam, but further punctuates its big-chinned look with more rugged lower cladding and other metallic inserts that bring its look up to date.

And there's the Falcon, which Ford revealed in XR8 trim just last week and is now presenting in G6E 2015 Ford Falcon G6Espec. If the XR8 is the performance model, the G6E is the luxury version, swapping in more refined trim like a chrome-slat grille (instead of a black honeycomb), chrome foglamp surrounds, less-aggressive multi-spoke wheels (instead of five-spokes) and a flatter hood (instead of a power bulge). Otherwise, it looks essentially the same as the one we saw last week, its facelift bringing it more in line with the smaller, front-drive Mondeo (which we know here as the Fusion) and other members of the Ford family.

These updates, expected to launch later this year, will have to keep the Territory and Falcon fresh until they're both discontinued with the closing of Ford's manufacturing operations Down Under, a move that will put a period on an 88-year history. After that, a version of the Mondeo/Fusion will have to take the Falcon's role as Ford's large sedan while the Mustang assumes its role as performance flagship, and Territory buyers will have to look towards models like the Edge crossover and Everest SUV to meet their high-riding needs.

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Ford car-camo artist works his craft on Australia's new Falcon XR8

07/26/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, Ford, Australia

Ford Falcon camouflage

Ford is among the kings of concealment when it comes to test cars. On one recent Mustang SVT mule, the automaker went to the extreme of putting baffles over the exhausts to hide how many there were. Sounds like a lot of work, right? In a new video, the Blue Oval has decided to take fans behind the scenes to show them what it takes to camouflage a prototype. In this case the subject was the recently unveiled 2014 Falcon XR8 for Australia.

Ford's prototype build coordinator Down Under has the very appropriate name of Neil Trickey, and it's his job to obfuscate the important bits of test cars to keep them out of spy shooters' camera lenses. Trickey calls his job a "dark art," and he shows off some of the tricks of his trade in the video. It turns out that the fabric we often see on mules is a type of lycra, but his team isn't above getting out a can of spray paint to conceal parts, too.

Scroll down to watch a video about a man who you probably wish could be a little worse at his job.

Continue reading Ford car-camo artist works his craft on Australia's new Falcon XR8

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Ford unveils its facelifted Falcon finale with new XR8

07/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Ford, Australia

Ford Falcon XR8

While its days may be numbered, Ford isn't just going to let its Falcon sedan limp out for the Australian market. No, the Blue Oval is releasing a refreshed Falcon for its final years, and it's lead by this, the new XR8. That's right, this dead-car-driving is going to go out on a high note.

Ford's global design DNA dominates the looks of the new Falcon, with a grille reminiscent of the US market Fusion and the European-market Mondeo. The headlights aren't a straight port, and boast their own unique LED running light pattern (at least on the XR8), but the overall look is strikingly similar. Out back, LED taillights highlight the rear of the Faclon. Despite the substantial new fascia, this is still a mid-cycle refresh. That means most of the rest of the Falcon's body panels are carryovers from the current model.

The XR8 model, shown above, arrives with a supercharged V8, allegedly displacing 5.0 liters. Unfortunately, details on the Falcon's mechanicals are in remarkably short supply. Ford has committed to a range of turbocharged four, as well as turbocharged and naturally aspirated six-cylinders, in addition to the V8, although specifics on those mills aren't available.

It isn't just information that's in short supply ­- official images of the new Falcon are limited to the pic you see above. Of course, we're working on getting more of both, and as soon as that happens, we'll be sure to update this post. Scroll down for the brief, styling-focused press release from Ford.

Continue reading Ford unveils its facelifted Falcon finale with new XR8

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Australian Jeep marketing stunt goes awry [w/video]

07/16/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Marketing/Advertising, Videos, Crossovers/CUVs, Jeep, Australia, Off-Road

Jeep Cherokee

Jeep fans in Australia are none too happy with the off-road brand following a contest that saw ten new Cherokees sold for just $10,000 Australian (about $9,400), roughly a quarter of the vehicle's price Down Under.

The contest, called the "World's Most Remote Dealership," gave Aussies the chance to snag an ultra-affordable Cherokee Longitude (analogous to the US-spec Latitude trim), provided they could get to a secret dealership in the remote wilderness of western New South Wales, near the border with the state of South Australia.

In order to get the exact location of the dealership, though, potential customers needed to download an app, which would release a phone number 9:00 AM AEST on Thursday (7:00 PM EDT, Wednesday night). The first ten people who could call in and prove they could afford to finance $10,000 and get to the remote dealership, were given the location of the remote dealership.

The only problem is that the phone number to call in was leaked out on an Internet forum the night before. That's left some contest participants crying foul, despite the fact that the lines themselves didn't open until 9:00 AM AEST, according to CarAdvice, who spoke to Jeep Australia's director of corporate affairs, Karla Leach.

Over 49,000 people downloaded the app and the call center responsible for the contest recorded 30,000 phone calls, with winners coming from all six Australian states. Aside from the leaked number, congestion on the phone lines was an issue, as well.

Many Australians voiced their frustration on the company's Facebook page.

"Absolute farce, number wouldn't even connect let alone ring," one commenter wrote. "Truly a waste of my time ?Jeep Australia. How could you go through with the promo knowing full well the number had been leaked? Makes me feel a sense of animosity towards the Jeep brand," wrote another. There was also talk from some commenters of a class-action lawsuit.

Jeep, though, seems to think that some of the sour grapes are simply due to those who didn't win.

"We are overwhelmed with the amazing participation in the Jeep 'The World's Most Remote Dealership' promotion. There were over 30,000 calls made this morning for the chance to buy just 10 vehicles. So we can understand that some people are disappointed that were not successful," Leach told CarAdvice.

What do you think? Is Jeep at fault for the number being leaked? Does it even matter, since the lines didn't open until a pre-determined time? Scroll down and have a look at the event's commercial, and then have your say in Comments.

Continue reading Australian Jeep marketing stunt goes awry [w/video]

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2014 Hyundai i40 Tourer / Sonata wagon

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Wagons/Estates, Hyundai, Australia, Reviews, Diesel

2014 Hyundai i40 Tourer

Recently, we took a vacation to Australia, because sometimes we have to get away from all of that other travel and good living that we withstand in order to bring you the latest car news. While there, we grabbed the keys to a Hyundai i40 Tourer, essentially the Sonata wagon we never got a chance to love here.

Even though it didn't have a manual transmission, it did have a diesel and, for reasons beyond that oil-burner, our enduring affections. No, this story will not include another plea for Hyundai to bring it to the US - it likely wouldn't stand a chance against our crossover- and size-crazed mania, but it's a brilliant fit for markets that appreciate tidy haulers.

Continue reading 2014 Hyundai i40 Tourer / Sonata wagon

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Lexus LX to get diesel engine?

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Etc., Lexus, Toyota, Australia, Diesel

Lexus LX570

Australian consumers appear poised to get another diesel-burning luxury SUV in the near future, and word is it's coming from Lexus, of all automakers. Sean Hanley, chief executive of the company's branch in Oz, recently told Aussie website Drive that he's "pretty confident" that the new engine for the LX is getting the green light.

Like in the US, the LX in Australia is currently only offered with a 5.7-liter, gasoline-burning V8. However, sales of the big SUV are presently minuscule Down Under, with Drive reporting just 153 LX570s sold in all of Oz last year. Hanley is negotiating with Japan to get the new diesel in hopes of boosting flagging sales. If his efforts are successful, it would be the first diesel engine offered in a Lexus there. Hanley didn't specify exactly which mill the SUV would get. However, given the LX's close relationship with Toyota Land Cruiser, the diesel 4.5-liter twin-turbo V8 already available in the Toyota in markets outside of North America seems like a natural choice.

Don't expect the variant to be hopping across the Pacific, though. Lexus spokesperson Allison Takahashi tells Autoblog she has heard "nothing" about an oil-burning LX coming to the US. That's not a huge surprise, though, because neither Toyota nor Lexus offer any diesels in their lineups today. Also, Lexus has only sold 1,981 LX570s through June, which only placed it ahead of the LFA supercar in the brand's sales. It's probably just not worth certifying the engine for such a low-volume model.

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2014 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline

07/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Holden, Australia, Luxury

2014 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline

On a recent jaunt to Australia, we got behind the wheel of a Holden Commodore SS-V Redline. We've been looking forward to driving not a Holden, but the Holden, the Commodore, ever since we visited Australia for the first time in 1994 and saw a Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) Commodore parked like a magazine-spread model in a driveway next to a house on a bluff. It was an indifferent, unavailable and previously unknown exotic.

We pledged the fraternity at the very top, pulling out of the lot at Sutton Holden in Arncliffe in a Commodore SS-V Redline. Easy to confuse for our Chevrolet SS, this is not the Australian export we get. The Holden range comes in eight flavors, the SS-V Redline the uppermost branch on the sports-oriented side of the family tree that employs the LS2 6.0-liter V8 dedicated to Holden's performance models. Our Chevrolet SS is from the HSV tribe, all of its tautly strung warriors using the LS3 6.2-liter V8. The Holden's 6.0-liter puts out 362 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, wheres the SS' 6.2-liter serves up 425 hp and 420 lb-ft.

The SS-V Redline is said to be "the first properly track-developed car to wear a Holden [not an HSV] badge," and ours had a slice of heaven between the front seats: a six-speed manual transmission. According to Aussie journos, the SS-V Redline is "the first Holden that can truly approach HSV offerings," and we couldn't wait to find out what that meant. When we drove straight from the dealer to pick up an Australian friend and she asked, "Is this your big beefy car?" we answered with pride, "Why yes, yes it is."

Continue reading 2014 Holden Commodore SS-V Redline

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Commodore name won't sail on when GM replaces big Holden sedan

06/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Holden, Australia

Holden Commodore SSV

Big changes are afoot at Holden. After General Motors opted to shut down its only plants Down Under, its Australian subsidiary is shifting from a manufacturer to an importer of automobiles. The question on everyone's mind, then, has been whether Detroit would keep its Australian nameplates in place, or replace them with global ones.

The word on the yellow-brick roads of Oz has been shifting back and forth, but the latest indicates that GM will kill the Commodore name when the replacement for the current model arrives. Holden's only proprietary model, the rear-drive Commodore sedan, wagon and ute are set to be replaced by a front-drive model to be brought in from either Asia or Europe. And while Holden execs have been pleading their case, it now appears that - because the car will be so fundamentally different from the one it replaces - GM will push the same nameplate it applies to the vehicle in other markets rather than try to port over the Commodore name, killing it alongside the Falcon that Ford is discontinuing as well.

The next question, then, is whether the Holden name will fall with it. GM has been promising up and down that it will keep the Holden brand in place, but strategists in Detroit have reportedly been pushing to replace it altogether with the Chevy bow-tie. And if GM finds that the shuttering of its plants in Australia has tarnished the Holden brand image too much, the advocates for Chevy could get their way.

Aside from the Commodore, the entire Holden range otherwise consists exclusively of rebadged Chevrolets, after all. Experts reportedly indicate that rebranding all 233 Holden dealers across Australia would cost as much as a million Australian dollars (about $940k at today's rates) - half of which would be shouldered by GM and half passed on to the dealers themselves.

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Ford Australia launches Falcon GT F 351, last of its line [w/video]

06/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, Ford, Australia

FPV Falcon GTF 351

It's always best to go out with a bang rather than a whimper, and Ford Performance Vehicles is doing just that in Australia with the Falcon GT F 351. It's the most powerful road car the Aussie performance brand has ever made with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 pumping out 471 horsepower (351 kilowatts) and 420 pound-feet of torque. It's joined by the FPV Pursuit Ute with the same powerplant tuned to 422 hp and 402 lb-ft. Sadly, the last F in this Falcon's name stands for Final.

The GT F 351 is a monumental way to go out, though. It harkens back to the old days of Aussie muscle Fords, and the 351kw output is meant to reference the classic Falcon GT and its 351-cubic-inch V8. In addition to the massive power, the F has the improved suspension from the R-Spec model and Brembo brake calipers.

FPV is building just 500 GT F sedans for Australia and 50 more for New Zealand, plus 120 Pursuit Utes. They feature a blacked-out hood and black stripes over the hood and sides, plus gloss black accents around the headlights, door handles and mirrors.

To be clear, this isn't actually the final Falcon; its production ends in Australia in 2016. Instead, it's the swan song for Ford Performance Vehicles. It was brought in-house by Ford Australia, and the Blue Oval later decided to kill off the Aussie performance brand allegedly to give more room for the Mustang in the market in 2016. Scroll down to watch a melancholic video of FPV's final creations and to read the car's official announcement.

Continue reading Ford Australia launches Falcon GT F 351, last of its line [w/video]

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Subaru SVX to be resurrected with hybrid power?

06/12/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Hybrids/Alternative, Sports/GTs, Subaru, Australia, Rumormill

Subaru Viziv 2

Salt. Get the salt. A new report out of Australia is claiming that Subaru is working on a new SVX. Yes, seriously.

Now, this is not feasible for a pair of huge reasons. First, the demand for a two-door Subaru, as we've seen with the BRZ, has not been tremendous. Second, the original SVX was a pretty horrible seller. Could the world be ready for a revival, though?

According to an unnamed source that spoke to, the reborn SVX will be based on the Viziv 2 Concept that was shown at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, but it will be a considerably more aggressive design, arriving as a low, wide shooting brake. According to the Aussies, the reborn SVX would ride on a new Subaru Global Platform, which will underpin the next-generation Tribeca, because of that platform's support for hybridization.

Ah, but this isn't just another version of the XV Crosstrek Hybrid's drivetrain, though. The unnamed source claims a bespoke, 3.3-liter, six-cylinder boxer engine is being developed for the SVX, and that it will be paired up with a Lexus battery and electric motor system. Total output would be around 375 horsepower. Where is that bloody salt?

Perhaps the most unbelievable part of this unbelievable story is this - the car is being requested by most strongly by American dealerships, because said dealers are clamoring for a high-output, sporty and luxurious coupe. Oh, and it will be built in Indiana at Subaru's factory.

While we aren't holding our breath on this one, we have reached out to Subaru's North American operations for a comment. "No, we haven't heard of anything like this," Subaru spokesman Dominick Infante told Autoblog.

Of course, as unlikely as this all sounds, we'll keep our ear to the ground should anything else develop.

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