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Mustang Galloping into Europe

But European hot-hatch Fiesta ST likely heading to U.S.

by on Sep.06, 2012

There's been plenty of guessing about what the next-generation Mustang will look like, but Ford has confirmed the iconic pony car will soon be introduced into Europe.

Ford has big plans for its little pony car as it gets set to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

“Mustang, the American icon, is coming to Europe,” Ford CEO Alan Mulally announced during a major product preview in Amsterdam on Thursday.

The event was notably short on details about the Mustang’s migration to Europe. Indeed, Ford has been unexpectedly tight-lipped about its plans to celebrate the pony car’s golden anniversary, though it has confirmed a major remake of the Mustang is in the works and it is widely anticipated that its launch will coincide with the planned 2014 celebration.

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Traditionally, Mustang has been one of the most classically American models in the global Ford line-up – along with the maker’s full-size F-Series models.  The muscle car is only offered in a handful of other markets, curiously including Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as parts of the Middle East.

Ford's Nick Collins reveals the new Fiesta ST during a presentation in Amsterdam.

But Mustang has developed a modest cult following in some other regions.  Older versions are hot collectables in Sweden, where classic American metal is unusually popular.  And Ford research has found the Mustang nameplate is surprisingly well-known and regarded in Europe overall.

Though Mulally did not offer specific details, it is all but certain Ford would have to wait for the all-new Mustang before taking the pony car to Europe.  It would make no sense to modify the existing model to meet the Continent’s crash and safety requirements which are different in a number of ways from what the outgoing Mustang was developed to meet in the U.S.

Early on, there had been some speculation Ford might opt for a radical remake of the Mustang, perhaps basing the next generation on the popular Evos concept car.  But numerous sources have told that, as one insider suggests, “We know what a Mustang is supposed to look like.”  And that apparently means sticking to the basic form of the current model.

What’s under the skin may go through a more radical revolution, however.  Among other things, Mustang is expected to get a long-awaited independent rear suspension – at least in some versions.

Ford will continue to look for ways to deliver better mileage out of the anniversary-era Mustang, meanwhile.  But, as it proved when it launched the latest V-6 model – which got 30 mpg on the highway even while making 305 horsepower – mileage won’t trump performance.  But how much beyond the latest Shelby GT500’s 662 horsepower it might deliver is yet to be answered.

Which version – or versions – of the Mustang will make it to Europe also remains undisclosed.  But the soundtrack for Mulally’s announcement appeared to have been a revving Ford GT500.

The decision to expand Mustang’s distribution is not entirely a surprise. Since joining Ford six years ago, Mulally has pressed forward with his One Ford strategy, which emphasizes global over regional products.  During the Thursday presentation, Ford noted it will soon be marketing 15 global models in Europe.  So-called One Ford models currently account for just 43% of the maker’s European sales.  Byt 2017 that will jump to 71%, said Mulally.

The U.S. is in the midst of a similar transformation.  The new version of the Ford Fusion will be all but identical to Europe’s new Mondeo.  And the long-running E-Series van will be replaced, late next year, by Europe’s next-generation Transit van.

(For more on the new Transit and smaller Transit Connect models, Click Here.)

Meanwhile, Ford used the big European presentation to unveil its next-generation Fiesta subcompact – which will also come to the States.

Less certain is whether American motorists will get the next version of the performance-oriented Fiesta ST also revealed in Amsterdam.  But for those interested it may be time to start saving up.

Ford revealed a 5-door concept Fiesta ST at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show — though the model on display in Europe was a 3-door. And while the maker won’t provide details an updated version is expected later this year when Ford does say it “will have more to say” about U.S. plans for the Fiesta line.

Expect to see specifics emerge during the Ford news conference at this year’s LA Auto Show, in November.

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