The Ford Telstar is an automobile that was sold by the Ford Motor Company in Asia, Australasia and Africa, comparable in size to the European Ford Sierra and the American Ford Tempo. It has been progressively replaced by the Ford Mondeo.
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 hatchback (known as the TX5). However, after 1988, a Telstar version of the 626 wagon was sold in Japan and New Zealand.
In Taiwan, the Telstar was locally assembled by Ford Lio Ho, the local Ford joint venture, in left hand drive, and 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)
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.
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. There was only one engine on offer—a 70 kilowatts (94 hp) 2.0 litre 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.
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 1.6L and 2.0L 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 late 1985.
Second generation (AT, AV; 1987–1992)
The original generation Telstar was replaced in 1987 with a refreshed version (the AT) on the Mazda GD platform. A station wagon was also available, built on the GD-based GV platform, which was unique to Japan and New Zealand, the engines and drivetrain configurations mirroring those of the hatchback and sedan versions.
Fuel-injection was now standard on the Telstar (AT) in Australia, although local assembly was short-lived, and for a while the model was almost replaced by the Ford Corsair in 1989.
The Corsair was simply a facelifted version of the Nissan Pintara (U12), as the two companies were sharing models under the Button plan. 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 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.