Ford Fiesta XR4 launches in the land of Oz

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All the B-car hubbub this weekend centered around the nifty new Mazda2, which we seriously hope to see in the US at some poin tin the future. At Australia's Melbourne International Motor Show, however, Ford showed off its tried-and-true Fiesta in that market's XR performance trim. The Fiesta XR4, looking very swank in it's decidedly Shelby-looking blue-on-white stripe package, is really just a rebadged Euro-market Fiesta ST.

That's no bad thing, as the small hatch (it's slotted below the Focus) pumps out 150 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter four cylinder. The only transmission offered on the XR version is a five-speed manual, and we're confident that the car's target audience wouldn't have it any other way. Very snazzy wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber combine with great-looking factory bodywork to create an attractive and desirable overall package.

This settles it: we're moving to Australia. It's not enough that they get their killer home-market Ford rear-drivers like the FPV GT, but they get the best stuff Ford of Europe has on offer as well (Fiesta, Focus)? We give up. This weekend, it was announced that Australia's getting the new Mondeo, too. Talk about a glut of riches.

Press release after the jump.

[Source: Ford Australia]
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2007 Melbourne International Motor Show: Fiesta XR4 Set to Sizzle in Hot Hatch Segment

Ford Australia took the wraps off the new Fiesta XR4 at the Melbourne International Motor Show today, confirming its mid-year arrival.

"Fiesta XR4 will be on sale before the end of the second quarter and we are confident this junior hot hatch, with its combination of European styling, German engineering and outstanding driving dynamics, will take the class by storm," said President of Ford Australia, Tom Gorman.

Powered by a specially modified version of Ford's 2.0 litre Duratec 16-valve engine, the XR4 delivers 110kW of power and 190Nm of torque. Unique overhead stripes are available as an option and complement XR4's enhanced performance ability.

"In keeping with its performance pedigree, Fiesta XR4 will only be available in the three-door body style with a five-speed manual transmission," said Mr Gorman.

Delivering on performance
Fiesta XR4 is the second high performance car in the Ford Australia line-up to come from Ford's TeamRS organisation. It will join the stunning Focus XR5 Turbo that redefined the term 'hot hatch' when it was launched last year.

"The new XR4 is more than just a badge, it is a whole new performance and design concept devised by TeamRS as an ongoing part of its road car programme," explained Jost Capito, TeamRS Director.

"The new Fiesta XR4 encapsulates the spirit of 'fun to drive' and aims to bring out the enthusiast in every driver, while being enjoyable to live with as an everyday car."

Performance car credentials
In addition to the powerful and sporty 2.0-litre Duratec engine, Fiesta's highly acclaimed chassis has been modified to deliver class-leading handling and roadholding for the XR4, with a stiffer rear twist beam and revised spring and damper tuning.

Steering is quicker acting and braking performance has been improved, with larger diameter and ventilated front discs, as well as the addition of rear disc brakes – fitted for the first time on Fiesta.

The XR4 features a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission with a new, short-throw gearshift for ultra-fast, precise gear changes.

Fiesta XR4 looks the part too, with an XR5 Turbo-style front bumper treatment that incorporates a deeper air intake and chrome-ringed fog lamps, a bespoke sports rear bumper, discrete side skirts and a functional rear roof spoiler to complement its low stance.

Handsome multi-spoke alloy wheels with low profile Pirelli P-Zero tyres complete the package to create a bold, performance look.

Inside, the cabin has also been given the XR4 treatment, with unique front sports seats trimmed in black leather with bold red or blue cloth centre sections.

XR4 interior detailing includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminium centre spoke, unique leather gear shift knob with satin aluminium insert and red graphics, sports pedals and XR4 branded scuff plates.

Safety specification in the Fiesta XR4 is in keeping with its performance car credentials and includes driver and front passenger airbags, side curtain airbags and side thorax airbags.

Driver aids consist of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), traction control with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), while larger ventilated front and rear disc brakes, sports suspension, a passive anti-theft system and remote central locking complete the package.

"Fiesta XR4 delivers a further performance offering to Ford motoring enthusiasts," said Mr Gorman.

"It is going to be a successful and eye-catching addition to the hot-hatch range."

Further specification and pricing information will be announced closer to launch.

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