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Ford motor show plan a winner

The outdoor track was marked out by shipping containers and up to seven vehicles at a time could be put through the course.

That's twice the number Ford predicted would try out its "Smart Drive" program and has prompted the carmaker to already book the sole outdoor venue for next year's Melbourne Motor Show.

Sydney showgoers could take a 10-minute drive of the Focus Titanium, Kuga and Ranger Wildtrak around a specially constructed course that highlighted key technologies and capabilities of the vehicles.

"The outdoor 'Smart Drive' has been a smash hit with showgoers. Even foot traffic walking past the Darling Harbour Convention Centre are stopping in to drive the cars on display," Ford Australia CEO Bob Graziano says.

"We had anticipated completing 3000 test drives across the entire motor show but we hit that number after the first weekend." The active park assist was the most popular feature in the Focus, closely followed by the automated emergency braking system dubbed Active City Stop. The Ford Kuga compact crossover's touch-free tailgate opening system also copped a pounding. 

Ford spokesman Neil McDonald says the same car was used throughout the show and cycled through more than 3000 displays of opening and closing its tailgate in response to a foot-wave under the rear bumper. The Ranger Wildtrak's hill ascent/decent software was also showcased, using a short but steep hill.

The outdoor track was marked out by shipping containers and up to seven vehicles at a time could be put through the course. "We're rapt. It definitely exceeded our projections and we're already thinking about the next one," McDonald says. That has included booking the outdoor venue at the Melbourne event for 2013, effectively locking its rivals out of what has instantly become one of the highlights of the show.