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Scarce C-MAX, Focus ST make Manitoba debut

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It has been tough for buyers to find a new Ford C-MAX, but, availability will increase in the new year.

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Big Red Car welcomes folks to Steinbach.

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The Ford Motor Company is striving to be the category leader with every model launch, and nothing illustrates that better than the brand new C-MAX hybrid, says Lance Fridfinnson, Mid-Town Ford's general sales manager.

The hybrid C-MAX. which arrived in hybrid-certified Ford dealer showrooms in Manitoba in mid-November, comes in two forms -- the SE/SEL Hybrid and the C-MAX Energi, a plug-in model that uses the same gas-and-electric drivetrain but has a larger battery that's rechargeable through a 120-volt or 240-volt outlet. It will go about 34 kilometres under electric-only power before switching to gas.

The C-MAX's gas engine is a 2L inline four-cylinder, while the electric motor is powered by a 1.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Total power is 188 horsepower, routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The C-MAX's construction keeps road and wind noise minimal, while the huge windshield gives drivers a panoramic view. The instrument panel features a pair of color digital screens on either side of the speedometer, controlled by buttons on the steering wheel. The screen on the right controls such features as the stereo and phone; the one on the left shows you one of several gauges designed to help you drive at maximum efficiency.

The front seats sit a little higher, Fridfinnson pointed out, while the back seats fold down flat to allow for more cargo space. The hatchback opens with a power latch and the battery is in the rear.

The C-MAX base price is $27,199 (plus $1,550 freight and pdi). Local dealers have so far received only one unit each. "We won't be getting our second until January," Fridfinnson added.

Also in limited supply is the new Ford Focus ST model -- just 2,000 units have been slated for Canada. Each Manitoba Ford dealer received an initial allotment of one vehicle with a second coming later in the year.

Fridfinnson described the new model as a tuner car that drives like a "go-kart on steroids".

"The handling and power are amazing, and the new torque vectoring technology eliminates the tendency to steer slightly to the right." he said. "When you step down on the gas with FWD, the vehicle keeps to the straight and narrow."

The turbocharged direct-injection 2.0L EcoBoost engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission to produce a peak torque of 270 lb.-ft. and 252 hp which results in quick-off-the-line acceleration and top-end performance.

The base ST starts at $29.999 (plus transport and PDI), while a fully-equipped model including navigation, moonroof and Recaro seating sells for $34,549.

While the C-MAX and Focus ST are currently scarce, local Ford dealers have received a goodly supply of 2013 Ford Fusions which, Fridfinnson points out, bears a striking resemblance to the Aston Martin. The streamlined model's design suggests a nimbleness and lightness about it while the front and rear lighting speak of enhanced technology.

The model is currently available in S, SE. and Titanium trims, and there's also a hybrid model. The S and SE models with FWD are powered by a 2.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine which puts out 168 hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque. The all-wheel drive SE and Titanium models are powered by 2L turbo EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that produces 237 hp and 250 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 2L turbo and a 1.6L EcoBoost turbo are also available as options on the front-wheel drive SE.

The Titanium version comes fully equipped with intelligent access with push button start, 10-power leather heated seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, aluminum wheels, driver's seat memory, two-way passenger seat with power recline, fog lamps, electrochromic rear-view mirror, upgraded exterior mirrors, a vanity mirror, cruise control, SYNC with MyFord Touch and premium sound.

"I drove the new Fusion seven weeks ago at a test drive at Assiniboia Downs," Fridfinnson said. "It handled very nicely."

The new Fusion starts at $22,499 for the base S model, rising to $33,999 for the Titanium.

Steinbach dealers celebrate return of Big Red Car

Steinbach Auto dealers (Fairway Ford, Steinbach Dodge Chrysler, Ledingham GM, Harvest Honda and Auto City Mazda) hosted a Nov. 8 lunch to re-introduce Steinbach's Big Red Car at its new location.

The Big Red Car, notes Paul Neustaedter, Vice-President of the Steinbach Auto Dealers Association (also President and General Manager of Steinbach Dodge Chrysler Ltd. and FIAT of Steinbach) is a replica Rolls Royce that welcomes people to Steinbach's "The Automobile City".

The car is a replica of a 1931 Rolls Royce Classic and is made to scale but doubled in size from a 1/20th-scale model car. The replica, made of fiberglass and wood, is 12 feet wide, 12 feet high and 40 feet long. It took three years to build and cost $36,000 in 1991.

The car needed to be moved from its previous location to make way for a new Boston Pizza restaurant and a Wal-Mart store. It now sits atop an impressive rock display and can easily be seen from the highway.

The Steinbach Auto Dealers Association spent $70,000 to build the rocks display and refurbish and relocate the car, which has an estimated value of $150,000. It now stands as a reminder to all that "Automobile City" is "Worth the Trip!"

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