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Old 07-15-2002, 21:41   #1 (permalink)
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Opinion: AU was never a true EL replacement

I see the forthcoming Falcon as a true EL successor - which the AU wasn't. And I'm not jumping on the bandwagon of labeling it 'ugly', but let's take a look at the number of mistakes (NOTE: this only applies to the original base model Forte, which was to be the volume seller):

* A car marketed as cheaper than its main competitor and its predecessor, assuring poor resale value and meaning countless corners would have to be cut (including the loss of some standard equipment over the EL)

* An all new car which has absolutely nothing in the way of increased technology on the base model. A DOHC and IRS were rumoured for the EA Falcon, and EF too. It's only finally coming with the so-called 'BA' Falcon.

* The new model being called AU puts it in the middle of nowhere. A new lettering system starting near the end of the alphabet. A big reminder that the car is of AUstralian origins as if we didn't know. Who knows?

* Radical, untried styling on a conservative family car - despite the failure of the conceptually similar Taurus. And to top it off, they made the volume-seller the MOST radical!

* An appauling lack of progress in terms of safety. ABS was standard on all models bar the basic GLi back in '93 with the ED series, and it took until the 'bandaid' AU series III to be standard on the Forte. Dual airbags were only standard on the Ghia with the EF series II in '95, and this was still the case with the AU in 1998! Holden were installing side airbags by this stage, while Ford didn't even have front seatbelt pre-tensioners.

So no, I don't think the AU was a worthy EL successor. Problems or not, models like the XA, XD and EA show how a new model should look and feel. With the photos of the BA having already grown on me, I can say that is a car that I can be proud of as a fan of Australian cars.
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Old 07-15-2002, 21:54   #2 (permalink)
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i think thats ridiculas personally! IMHO the EL wasnt a true successor for the EF, and i think barra, ba, av, what ever they are calling it will be a great successor for AU, and a great terminator for VY!!
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Old 07-15-2002, 22:00   #3 (permalink)
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I think you missed my point. The EL was a minor refinement of the EF, which was all it was ever supposed to be - a stop gap until the AU was released.

But nonetheless, we all agree that Barra will be the car we wanted it to be. I'm sick of seeing Falcon's face rubbed in the dirt by rivals, and am relieved those days are over. That's what matters.
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Old 07-15-2002, 22:11   #4 (permalink)
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I agree with you Jack, but probably in more of an aesthetic sense.

The AU just didn't have that myserious 'Falcon DNA' that has been a part of every Falcon up to and including the EL - a combination of wide stance and broad shoulders.

I'd be curious to see if someone can put together a picture with EL, AU and BA side by side from the front, to get a a comparative view of all three from the same perspective.

Just like putting your son next to you, you'd probably recognise family resemblance when they are both in your face.

Perhaps we can put the BA down to being Jac Nasser's legacy to Ford Australia, and the extra freedom he afforded the designers to make BA right. But to have spent the same amount of money on AU as was spent on BA, it makes you wonder what they heck they spent the money on last time around.


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Old 07-15-2002, 22:16   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Opinion: AU was never a true EL replacement

Quote:
Originally posted by Jack_Travis
I see the forthcoming Falcon as a true EL successor - which the AU wasn't. And I'm not jumping on the bandwagon of labeling it 'ugly', but let's take a look at the number of mistakes:

* A car marketed as cheaper than its main competitor and its predecessor, assuring poor resale value and meaning countless corners would have to be cut (including the loss of some standard equipment over the EL)
This was an attempt to attract younger private buyers as the Falcon was perceived as an old guys car or a taxi or fleet special.

Quote:
* An all new car which has absolutely nothing in the way of increased technology on the base model. A DOHC and IRS were rumoured for the EA Falcon, and EF too. It's only finally coming with the so-called 'BA' Falcon.
What about variable cam timing and the IRS which was/is still streets ahead of the Commodore. Also used new technology bake-hardenable panels to reduce weight. The AU was lighter, faster and more fuel effecient. I would have thought that would have given it a marketing edge over the new Commodore which was heavier, thirstier and slower.

Quote:
* The new model being called AU puts it in the middle of nowhere. A new lettering system starting near the end of the alphabet. A big reminder that the car is of AUstralian origins as if we didn't know. Who knows?
This was the dotcom era. The AU designation was an attempt to cash in on the computer/internet terminology as in dotcom.AU as the Australian car.

Quote:
* Radical, untried styling on a conservative family car - despite the failure of the conceptually similar Taurus. And to top it off, they made the volume-seller the MOST radical!
Again an attempt to attract a younger buyer and set the car apart from the more conservative, higher spec models. Read some reviews from Wheels, Motor at the time of the AU release, they all sing the praises of the fresh styling of the Forte and say that will be the success story, Ha.

Quote:
* An appauling lack of progress in terms of safety. ABS was standard on all models bar the basic GLi back in '93 with the ED series, and it took until the 'bandaid' AU series III to be standard on the Forte. Dual airbags were only standard on the Ghia with the EF series II in '95, and this was still the case with the AU in 1998! Holden were installing side airbags by this stage, while Ford didn't even have front seatbelt pre-tensioners.
I've got nothing to add here.

Quote:
So no, I don't think the AU was a worthy EL successor. Problems or not, models like the XA, XD and EA show how a new model should look and feel. With the photos of the BA having already grown on me, I can say that is a car that I can be proud of as a fan of Australian cars.
Apart from reskins what did XA/B/C add over XW/Y or for that matter XD/E/F over XC. The quantum leap has remained the EA-EL series IMHO. All this hype around Barra only serves to remind me the same thing existed at the release of AU. I only hope we can look back in a few years and see a better outcome.
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Old 07-15-2002, 22:53   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Re: Opinion: AU was never a true EL replacement

Reading over my post again, it struck me as being a bit negative. I meant no offence. To balance things, here are the POSITIVE aspects of the AU, as I see them:

* It avoided a repeat of the EA quality issues by focusing on improving quality.
* Parts prices were reduced (how often does this happen on a new model?).
* Running costs were reduced, as was weight
* Engine efficiency and refinement were improved
* The ordinary handling of the EL (relative to its competitors) was addressed, and steering was first rate
* Co-efficient of drag was reduced to 0.29 - which is exceptional

Trouble is, there isn't much here that can be called 'revolutionary'. Now, here are some points to address:

Quote:
Originally posted by RAPTOR

This was an attempt to attract younger private buyers as the Falcon was perceived as an old guys car or a taxi or fleet special.
If you look at the improvements made to the AU (reduced running costs, etc), the Forte was every inch a taxi. I stand by my criticism of the styling being too radical.

Quote:

What about variable cam timing and the IRS which was/is still streets ahead of the Commodore. Also used new technology bake-hardenable panels to reduce weight. The AU was lighter, faster and more fuel effecient. I would have thought that would have given it a marketing edge over the new Commodore which was heavier, thirstier and slower.


VCT? IRS? I didn't know Forte came with that. I failed to make it clear that my criticisms were directed at the marketing of the Forte. The AU indeed was lighter, but the initally heavy VT Commodore went to Jenny Craig and lost serious kilos over time.


Quote:

This was the dotcom era. The AU designation was an attempt to cash in on the computer/internet terminology as in dotcom.AU as the Australian car.


Even this doesn't answer the question of what the post-AU model was to be called. What I would have done is have the lettering system go backwards, as Holden did with its first cars.


Quote:

Again an attempt to attract a younger buyer and set the car apart from the more conservative, higher spec models. Read some reviews from Wheels, Motor at the time of the AU release, they all sing the praises of the fresh styling of the Forte and say that will be the success story, Ha.


That they did. The cover of Wheels said "Holden should be worried". We can laugh now, knowing that this time that really is the case.


Quote:

I've got nothing to add here.


I do. I should have mentioned that the AU II addressed many of my concerns. At the launch of the AU II, Ford said it was in the early stages of readying side airbags. No prizes for guessing which car will be the first to introduce them.


Quote:

Apart from reskins what did XA/B/C add over XW/Y or for that matter XD/E/F over XC. The quantum leap has remained the EA-EL series IMHO. All this hype around Barra only serves to remind me the same thing existed at the release of AU. I only hope we can look back in a few years and see a better outcome.


I believe the EA was the biggest quantum leap of any Falcon. It also had the most problems. The AU Forte was the opposite in that it had few problems, and nothing in the way of major technological improvements.

The Barra combines a bit of each - quality and revolution. This is what Ford fans wanted to see all along.
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Old 07-15-2002, 23:02   #7 (permalink)
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No Jack you were right in the first place.

Your other points have merit also however were outweighed by the former points.

In the end the market agreed.

A good lesson for all - especially Ford Management.
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Old 07-15-2002, 23:09   #8 (permalink)
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It was a good lesson. Every indication is that Holden's response won't be too conservative. Even they are learning from this - and the result is improved standards in the cars Australians will be driving.

And, just for you Luke:

EL - low and wide

AU-radical

BA - stunning!
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Old 07-15-2002, 23:42   #9 (permalink)
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The major problem for the AU was the dropping of fleet discounts with its launch. Fleets stayed away in droves & the public's initial 'shock' with the styling was confirmed by low sales figures.
Interesting the comparison with the styling schools, as the Taurus (as we know it) & the AU are technically from different Ford schools; 'oval' & 'edge'. I will say that the AU seemed to be confused over its styling.
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Old 07-16-2002, 16:21   #10 (permalink)
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In terms of technology, the AU i have to say far out handles the EL it's not funny. The AU body is definitly heaps more stiffer. Sure the IRS standard across the range wasn't present btu i would rather a sorted Watts Linkage than a cheapo IRS boggie job like holdens.

Engines, yes while power rates it as the same, the AU engine can be revved, and it's very happy on the high side over 4000rpm while the E's weren't. I speak of experience as i've owned EL and now AU. Pretty much there was a crank revise of the counter weight and low-friction pistons.

Seems with Falcons all the benefits don't grab in a 30 second commercial or a quick spin around the block.
Showroom appeal is what makes sales and the interior of the VT was more inviting that the Series 1 AU and external styling in stock form, i mean how many AU fleet owners would put bodykits and spoilers on their falcons.
Spec wise too, people just read about Holden having IRS which seems better than Live axle but in reality it's a different story.

So all in all i feel the AU was a worthy replacement, unfortunately most of it was not on the skin.
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