Friday, August 14, 2015

Bucket Seat: Ford Go Further Africa

This past Tuesday I was part of many local motoring journalists that attended the Ford "Go Further" conference which was held in Sandton at the International Convention Centre. For those who aren't familiar with what it is all about, well it's Ford's very own showcase of what they have in store for the upcoming year in terms of new models, projected figures, past year figures and have a party. Basically it's their very own motor show. Besides the local media, there was international media, local and other dealers from Sub Sarahan Africa as well as key clients of the company in attendance. So you can only imagine the magnitude of something like this. 

The conference kicked off with an exhibition with some of the current models in the Ford fleet, with passenger cars like the Fiesta, Fusion, Focus and the commercial line up as well. Guests had time to have an up close look at these vehicles while having a light lunch before moving onto the main exhibition hall where the main event was being held. 

The show kicked off with Ford's CEO for Sub Saharan Africa, Jeff Nemeth addressing the thousands in attendance about the past year in figures for the company, and then highlighting the way forward for Ford RSA and Africa as a whole. At last years Go Further event it was announced that Ford would release 17 new models over 2 years and so far 11 of those have been brought to the market, the following 6 were due to be unveiled at this years event which left many eager with anticipation over what they could be. 

First up in the small passenger segment was the Ford Figo, a well priced small hatch which now comes in sedan form as well. Lot of characteristics are form the current fiesta with the same stylish interior and front headlights baring a slight resemblance as well. Moving up a segment to the next release was Ford's all new B-Max who's launch coincided with the Go Further Expo, I will be doing a separate review of this vehicle on the blog soon. 

Next up was the big boys, Ford's past Everest model wasn't the best looking product from their stable but in terms of sales it didn't do too badly but couldn't compete with the ever popular models in the same segment from other manufacturers, however with the new look Everest baring the same design style of the new Ford Ranger, this one is looking mighty fine and can see it coming in as a strong contention to rival those from the east who seem to have dominated the SUV market over the years. 

Ford's Ranger has been a sensation in SA, it was the highest selling vehicle in SA at the beginning of the year, yes, vehicle not bakkie. Ford have built over 250,000 of them in South Africa and are planning on expanding operations outside the borders with a new plant being planned for Nigeria. South Africa will still play a pivotal role in supplying the plant with panels for the vehicles and thus will see more job creation in the SA market by the company. The new spec Ford Ranger was unveiled which see's the entire front and cabin being upgraded, making the van look more masculine with a bigger grille, square head lights and bulkier look. It's sure to break more record sales for a van when released. 

It was then time to see what Ford's Performance range had to offer, the big one last year was news that the Mustang was finally considered for the SA market with the product due to hit our shores before December, all orders have officially been open around the country but no indication of pricing yet which seems strange? This year it was announced that Ford will also be bringing down the topless version of the car as well. Having a chance to see the car up close, it really is an impressive machine and if priced well, will do very well in South Africa given not only it's incredible heritage but also the look and feel of the car. 

Like all major shows, it has to end with a bang and that was adequately brought by Ford's all new Focus RS. The hot hatch which is powered by Ford's 2.3 ltr EcoBoost engine produced 257kW of raw power. This is the 3rd generation of the RS model and the all wheel drive car features dynamic torque vectoring for class leading cornering speed and at-limit handling as said by the company. Lots of words but for this car it's all about what it can do on the tarmac. It sounds superb and looks the part with aggressive styling and a massive rear wing. It will be available in 4 colours, one of which is exclusive to the RS and will be hitting our market early next year. 

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