Ford has taken to social media to tease the first official image of its new Falcon, due later this year.
In a bid to ramp up publicity for the final version of the Australian-produced sedan, Ford released the image on Facebook yesterday, along with the hashtags #2014Falcon and #Official.
The photo confirms what recent spy shots obtained by Fairfax Media had already suggested – that the Falcon will feature Ford's ubiquitous honeycomb front grille and daytime running lights.
Ford will roll out the final versions of the Falcon and Territory SUV in November, ahead of the company's planned shutdown in October 2016.
Last month, Ford engineers were been caught testing the updated large car in Victoria.
The photographs quashed speculation that Ford would not release the heavily updated models due to low sales volumes.
The Falcon's overall profile and shape will be largely unchanged from the current FG model.
Along with the front-end updates, it's understood the Falcon's rear-end will feature a new bootlid, streamlined taillights and new rear wheel arches. The Falcon range will be offered with new-look alloy wheels.
"The car's very much on track," a Ford Australia spokesman recently said of the top secret new Falcon.
The updated Falcon and Territory SUV variants will see out Ford's Australian manufacturing closure in October 2016. The Falcon nameplate will be retired once Australian production winds up.
Ford will revert to an import only basis thereafter, bringing in fresh models including the legendary Mustang from next year and employing about 1100 people in a design and engineering capacity.
Other than a sneak preview of the Falcon last year, Ford Australia has been very scant on details for its upcoming models.
Fairfax understands some of the most notable changes in store for the Falcon will reside under its bonnet and inside the cabin.
The car maker has confirmed it will reinstate the venerable XR8 badge for 2015 as a sole replacement for its soon-to-be-defunct Ford Performance Vehicles offshoot. It's understood the XR8 will utilise much of the FPV GT's high performance components, such as its 335kW supercharged V8 engine, Brembo brakes and sports suspension.
It's understood changes to the existing six-cylinder, four-cylinder EcoBoost and LPG drivetrains will be minor – if at all – with most of the effort diverted to styling, additional features and fuel savings from the more aerodynamic exterior.
Ford is expected to integrate much of its Sync infotainment software inside the new Falcon, which could include adaptations of new technology fitted to the Fiesta ST and upcoming Focus small car.
It's believed Ford has now turned its attention to turning out the new Falcon after finishing a recent run of limited edition FPV GT-Fs (the F stands for "final" edition).
The popularity of the GT-F has opened the door to Ford undertaking special edition models of the new Falcon before the nameplate is retired.
"The GT-F demand was certainly something we noticed," the spokesman said.
"The 500 units is all we have capacity for in the GT-F, but as we get into the new model we will certainly be open to thinking creatively.
"We're not going to do another GT, but there are still opportunities for limited edition [Falcon] models. There's always a possibility."
Ford announced in May last year that it would close it manufacturing operations following significant losses sustained in its local car making business.
The decision preceded similar closure announcements by Holden in December and Toyota in February this year. Both have indicated they will cease car making in 2017.
Despite Ford Australia's closure intentions, the Falcon and Territory variants are still pivotal products for the blue oval brand.
The Falcon will be charged with competing against Holden's resurgent VF Commodore, as well as a horde of other SUV and mid-size passenger competitors.
Production of the current model FG Falcon and SZ Territory models have fallen to 133 vehicles a day, down from 260 vehicles a day in 2010. It is anticipated that those outputs will increase slightly to coincide with the introduction of the new Falcon and Territory variants.
"We've got our plan in terms of how many of those will sell based on what we've projected demand to be," Ford Australia chief executive Bob Graziano told Fairfax.
"The development of both those vehicles is going really well and we're quite anxious to get both the Falcon and Territory out there towards the end of this year."
Asked whether the updated Falcon and Territory variants would share the same level of Australian-produced componentry as current variants (about 70 per cent of parts are locally manufactured), Graziano recently said: "I can't tell you what the local content will be for the new vehicles – I just don't have that detail off the top of my head.
"We have fairly high levels of local content on our programs but I can't tell you what that level will be – whether it's identical to what it is today or whether it will be slightly different."
- Sydney Morning Herald