South Africa: Pretoria
Taiwan (Ford Lio Ho, CKD)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
|Platform||Mazda GC platform (Telstar AR/AS 1983–1987)
Mazda GD (Telstar AT/AV 1987–1991)
Mazda GE (Telstar AX/AY 1991–1997)
Mazda CG (Telstar II 1994–1996)
Mazda GF (1997–1999)
Ford Sierra (South Africa)
Ford Corsair (Australia)
The Ford Telstar is an automobile that was sold by the Ford in Asia, Australasia and Africa, comparable in size to the European Ford Sierra and the North American Ford Tempo. It was progressively replaced by the Ford Mondeo. It was named after the Telstar satellite.
Like the smaller Ford Laser, the Telstar was based on a model produced by Mazda in Japan. It shared its platform with the Mazda Capella/626, the differences being confined to some styling, engine sizes, and specification. The first model (also known as the AR) was launched in 1983, replacing the Ford Cortina. Unlike the Cortina, or its Sierra successor, the Telstar was usually only available as a sedan or five-door hatchback (known as the TX5). However, after 1988, a Telstar version of the 626 wagon was sold in Japan and New Zealand.
In Taiwan, it was assembled using complete knock-down kits from 1983 via the local joint venture Ford Lio Ho in left-hand drive. It remained in production in Malaysia until the early 2000s. It was also sold in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Cyprus and the Philippines.
First generation (AR, AS; 1982–1987)
|First generation (AR, AS)|
Ford Telstar TX5 (AR) GL hatchback
May 1983 – 1987 (Australia)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||5-door hatchback
|Engine||1.6 L Mazda F6 I4
2.0 L Mazda FE I4
Ford introduced the Telstar (AR) to the Japanese market in 1982 on the new front-wheel drive Mazda GC platform, in sedan and hatchback forms. The updated styling relative to the Mazda was performed by Ford Australia.
In Australia, the Telstar filled the gap in Ford Australia's product line-up, left by the Cortina in 1981. The Australian produced AR Telstar began production in May 1983. Assembly occurred at Ford's Homebush, New South Wales plant using complete knock-down (CKD) kits. There was only one engine on offer—a 70 kilowatts (94 hp) 2.0-litre with carburetor. The car boasted many distinctive features, such as push-button adjustable suspension (which it shared with its 626 sister car), and a digital instrument cluster (which it did not), and was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1983. The hatchback TX-5 was only available with the five-speed gearbox.
In New Zealand, the Telstar, like the Laser, was assembled locally from 1983 (replacing the highly successful Cortina range) at Ford's original Seaview plant near Lower Hutt and later at the Ford/Mazda joint venture plant in Wiri, Auckland, called Vehicle Assemblers of New Zealand (VANZ). The mechanically identical European specification Mazda 626 and Mazda 323 were initially assembled separately by Motor Holdings in Otahuhu but later joined the Telstar and Laser at VANZ. The first generation Telstar was available in New Zealand in both sedan and TX5 hatchback forms, using Mazda 1.6- and 2.0-litre four cylinder engines.
However, the absence of a station wagon version, in a market where there was strong demand for such vehicles, prompted Ford New Zealand to introduce a locally-assembled Sierra wagon in 1984. As a result of this, New Zealand was the only major market in the world where the Telstar and Sierra were sold alongside one another.
A facelifted model (the AS) arrived in September 1985.
Second generation (AT, AV; 1987–1992)
The original generation Telstar was replaced in Australia in October 1987 with a refreshed version, called the AT series. Ford rebaded and lightly restyled the Mazda 626 (GD) for the AT series sedan and hatchback. A station wagon was also available, built on the GD-based GV platform, which was unique to Japan and New Zealand. The facelifted AV model was released in Australia in January 1990, distinguished by a new grille, trim and wheels.
In the Australian market, the range was now imported from Japan, with the switch from local assembly made possible by the accumulation of import credits obtained from exports of other models. The base GL sedan and hatchback carried over the AS's 2.0-litre inline-four engine producing 68 kW (91 hp), while Ghia models featured a 2.2-litre 12-valve inline-four with 84 kW (113 hp). The flagship TX5 Turbo used a variation of the 2.2-litre engine, rated at 100–108 kW (134–145 hp) and gaining anti-lock brakes.
The Telstar sedans in Australia were discontinued in October 1989 when the locally-assembled Ford Corsair—a rebadged and facelifted Nissan Pintara (U12)—took the Telstar sedan's place. Under the Button plan, Ford and Nissan were to share models. The two were instead sold side-by-side in the Ford range until the third generation Telstar was introduced in 1992. Between 1989 and 1992, the Telstar was only available as the Japanese-built, high-performance TX5 hatchback in Australia. In New Zealand, however, the range remained unchanged. The Nissan Pintara was unavailable there, but it was rebadged as Nissan Bluebird for the New Zealand market. It was technically not in continuity with the main line of Nissan Bluebird models.
In Malaysia, the Telstar continued to be assembled by Amim Holdings after a brief hiatus, reaching the market in March 1988. It was offered as a 1.8-liter five-speed manual Ghia sedan or 2.0-liter automatic TX5 hatchback. In early 1990 a facelifted model was shown, with a new, smaller grille, modified taillights and a new 12-valve engine replacing the previous 2.0-liter. The 1.8-liter continued with 90 hp (67 kW) while the new 2.0-liter engine offered 110 hp (82 kW). There were three models on offer; the 1.8 sedan, 2.0 Ghia sedan, and 2.0 Ghia TX5.
Third generation (AX, AY; 1991–1996)
The AX series came to Australia in December 1992. Then followed the decision by Nissan to end Nissan Pintara manufacturing in Australia during 1992, whereby Ford's rebadged version, the Corsair was also dropped. This left the Telstar as the Ford's sole offering in the mid-size segment of the market.
This model was voted as Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1992. Trim levels were LX, GLX, Ghia and GT. The GT model was also available as a special edition between 1991 and 1992. Four-wheel steering was offered in the top-of-the-range Telstar. A facelifted AY model appeared in August 1994. The Telstar was replaced in Australia by the Mondeo in 1995.
New Zealand, like Australia received the AX Telstar in 1992. NZ versions were sold in sedan and hatchback forms, using 1.8- and 2.0-litre fours but also 2.0-litre KF and 2.5-liter KL V6s. The wagon version of the previous generation Telstar, continued in local production (as did the Mazda 626) while the previous generation sedan was offered as an entry-level model called Telstar Orion.
When the first Mondeos were sold abroad, Ford New Zealand offered a Telstar Contour and a Telstar Mystique (named after the US Ford and Mercury versions of the Mondeo, respectively). A high performance V6 version, known as the Telstar Radisich after the New Zealand racing driver Paul Radisich, was also sold locally. Local assembly of the Telstar ceased in 1997, when VANZ's Auckland plant closed, and was replaced in all forms by the Belgian-built Mondeo range. The Telstar was always a popular seller for Ford New Zealand, and they are still common today in all generations on New Zealand's roads.
In South Africa, the Telstar replaced the Ford Sierra in 1993, being assembled by Samcor alongside the Mazda 626. As in New Zealand, a Telstar Contour and Telstar Mystique were offered. In 1998, the Telstar was replaced by the Mondeo, which was later fully imported.
In Malaysia, the third generation Telstar arrived in August 1992. It was available as a four-cylinder sedan or as a TX5 liftback, which was the top version and came with the 2.0-liter V6 engine and complete equipment. The smaller engine was paired with a five-speed manual transmission, while the V6 received a four-speed automatic. This generation Telstar remained available in Malaysia until at least 2000.
Fourth generation (1994–1997)
Fifth generation (1997–1999)
The last Telstar, based on the GF platform, was released in 1997, but was only sold in Japan, as Ford was now marketing the Mondeo in the Asian-Pacific region. The Telstar was dropped by Ford of Japan in 1999, as the company sought to differentiate itself from Mazda by concentrating on European and American Ford models. Telstars were briefly available with Mazda's four-wheel steering.
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Ford's Taiwanese affiliate, Ford Lio Ho, has been involved in the alliance. Ford Lio Ho makes the Ford Festiva (based on the previous generation Mazda 121), the Ford Laser and the Ford Telstar, as well as commercial vehicles based on the Mazda Bongo.
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