Car reviews - Ford - Falcon - G6E sedan
Handling and ride compromise, performance, style
Room for improvement
Poor boot packaging, lack of adjustable rear head restraints, driveline whine
9 Oct 2008
By PHILIP LORD
IT'S hard to be a true-blue Aussie these days. Aside from many of us not knowing precisely what that means in the 21st century, there is one aspect of being Australian that we are usually proud of and is identifiable as an Australian product - the local car industry.
So if the latest FG Falcon is anything, it is as Aussie as they come, mate, even if the company that makes it is a US one. The car is still very much the product of local talent, and built to appeal to Australians living in a harsh climate.
We’re a pretty demanding lot, too: we want a simple enough car to be fixed anywhere, be cheap on parts, corner on rails and soak up the biggest potholes. It also has to have to guts to tow or overtake a road train and accommodate a family of five in comfort.
Yet in an Australia where the big Japanese 4WD is just as likely to fill those requirements, does this latest luxury sedan from Ford offer a compelling case to go local?
The answer is a resounding yes - this is the best luxury Ford made to date and, while it may not be world-class, it is not going to be outclassed in too many countries, either. It’s a clever hybrid of basic US-inspired mechanicals, wrapped in a Euro-inspired chassis with a big American footprint on the road. It’s a bit of everything, then, and most of the bits the G6E takes are the best ones.
The G6E is a version of Ford’s ‘Kinetic’ design principles big in Europe and also seen here with the Mondeo. It mostly works on the G6E, and the chrome detail work on the front-end in particular is subtle and, while the tail-lights may look a bit too aggressive and the overall look has little too much BF in it, there is no doubt that this is a good looking car. Ford has learned a lot since the AU plopped onto the scene in 1998.
Inside, the G6E looks a bit too nightclub dark with its dark grey panels and carbon-fibre accent panels. While it could do with more splashes of colour, at least Ford threw some satin silver highlights into the mix, on the dash and centre console. It is pretty well screwed together, too, although it won’t challenge a BMW for fit and finish.
There are no complaints where occupant comfort is concerned, though. The seats are lush in their design, with sufficient lateral support, and are the kind of seats that most bodies could sit in for long travelling days across the continent.
The driver’s electric seat offers plenty of room and adjustment and with the rake/reach-adjustable steering column and (optional) adjustable pedals, you’d be hard pressed to find a more comfortable driving position.
Vision out of the G6E is good for the class, with a clever rear-view camera a noteworthy standard feature.
Controls and instruments are simple to find and use but the trip computer buttons - there are two of them - on each side of the instrument cluster look cheap and seem an odd position to put them in.
Getting into the rear seat is easy, with wide-opening doors. There are two air-vents in the rear of the centre console and two cup-holders in the centre armrest - but there is no head restraint for the centre occupant and only fixed head restraints for outer occupants.
The rear seat is an excellent shape and its semi-reclined position is very comfortable, and two adults will sit with adequate legroom and plenty of headroom. With a third occupant in the middle, it is not as accomplished but then the seat remain comfortable enough and there is adequate foot space - which is not always the case.
Ford supplies one child restraint bolt but for the other two positions only threads are supplied, so bring your own bolts.
The boot is quite deep and accessed by a large opening but Ford has gone for seeking out as much space as possible by moulding the boot carpet around the spare wheel - which makes it had to load some items, as they can’t sit flat.
Even worse is the protrusion under the parcel shelf, which presumably for a speaker that makes a deep incursion into boot space at a crucial point.
The 4.0-litre six is smooth and quiet although when revved hard it displays a very Falcon-like mechanical clatter - not offensive, but obvious. You don’t need to rev the G6E to make it go, though - with an ample reserve of torque it is an easy car to drive quickly.
The smooth six-speed auto offers the right ratio for every occasion, although baulk at an overtaking manoeuvre and it will confuse it - it’ll end up thumping into a higher gear, and some kick-downs could occur with a bit less of a lurch.
And, despite the new transmission and independent rear suspension, the driveline whine that goes back decades still has remnants in the new G6E.
Fuel economy can be a sore point in large cars and certainly when faced with stop-start traffic and local suburban driving exclusively, the big Ford begins to get thirsty - expect more than 15.0L/100km. On a freeway trip, the consumption drops below 9.0L/100km.
This Ford proves more than ever that the local chassis engineers really know what they’re doing. The G6E has excellent chassis balance and is a good point-to-point tourer.
Maybe the dampers are a touch soft and make the G6E float slightly, but really it would be hard to imagine a better compromise for compliance over bumps and sharpness though corners. Of course it isn’t perfect and is more biased towards comfort, but don’t damn the G6E as some kind of land yacht. In the right hands, this can be pretty quick in the corners and very enjoyable while at it, too.
Only the steering lets down the team, with a fraction too much artificiality to be entirely responsive and offer the sort of feedback that VE Commodore drivers are lavished with. It is not bad, but falls slightly short of the VE's meaty feel.
Yes it is owned by an American multinational, yes it is no longer the type of car that most Aussies aspire to own, but is it any good in its own right? Yes: not only is this the best upper-spec Falcon in history (if you excluded the speech-robbingly quick G6E Turbo) but also a damn fine car in its own right.
Ford won’t sell a million examples of the G6E, perhaps, but those who do choose this traditional Aussie sedan will have picked one of the best so far.
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