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Car reviews - Ford - Falcon - G6E Turbo sedan

Launch Story

Ford logo6 Mar 2009

By JAMES STANFORD

IT TOOK only a few minutes in the G6E Turbo for incoming president Bill Osborne to declare “this is my car”, and he has duly ordered a version with 19-inch rims.

It is not surprising that Ford would slot its super new 4.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine into something other than the XR6 Turbo because it is such a sweet engine that it would not make sense to limit it to just one car.

After all, some customers would want the tremendous turbo engine and its endless stream of torque, but not the “boy racer” styling or firmer suspension of the XR6 Turbo.

The turbo six is the perfect engine for a luxury performance car and makes a lot more sense than the 5.4-litre Boss V8. It is an incredibly smooth powerplant and can remain quiet when the driver wants a more civilised experience.

When you decide to get going, the G6E Turbo can slingshot faster than most V8s. With next to no turbo lag, the engine responds quickly with an onslaught of power than seemingly never ends and delivers this punch with a wonderful turbo whine.

There is so much grunt on demand, with a torque map that looks like a billiard table, that you can leave it in one gear and let the engine do the rest. Even if you let the revs drop right off, the turbo will get the engine spinning again in no time.

It is hard to believe that Ford will kill off this locally built engine in two years’ time and replace it with something from the US.

The I6 turbo works well with the G6ET’s standard six-speed ZF automatic, which is a nice transmission. Its shifts quickly and smoothly, and is well-tuned to the engine. That means it doesn’t hunt around or downshift if it doesn’t need to.

There is also an evocative gruff popping sound from the engine when it changes gear as you accelerate hard.

Two features that could have made this car even better are steering wheel shift paddles and a blipping throttle on downchanges.

Sure, people might not use the paddle shifts all that often, but it would really give another sporty element to the car.

And the blipping throttle wouldn’t have cost much to do, but would just add to that overall performance feel.

If you get stuck into this engine, the spooling turbo will send the fuel consumption up to around 14L/100km, although on one leg of Ford’s drive program this week we returned about 11.5L/100km. Either way, that is not bad when you consider a V8 would slurp a lot more fuel to deliver similar performance.

This is definitely a car you could drive for long periods with ease, with a good compromise between agility and comfort. It is softer than the XR6 Turbo and, while not quite as sharp through the tight turns, it is in no way blunt.

The ride comfort is relatively good with the optional 19-inch rims although it does crash loudly over potholes and ruts, so the 18-inch rims are the most sensible choice, but the 19s do look great on the car and give it a more sinister edge.

Like the other Falcon models, the G6E Turbo has significantly improved steering, with a more solid feel. The slightly nervous feel at higher speeds of previous models is gone thanks a new variable steering system.

Unfortunately, one of the cars we drove displayed some steering rack rattle in bumpy corners. It was not the worst case of rack rattle experienced, but it would annoy an owner who enjoyed spirited drives in the country.

Ford engineers were aware of the issue that affected some of the cars and said it was likely to be an issue with a supplied component or an issue with a steering nut, and should be fixed before the production cars arrive in showrooms.

Let’s hope it can be fixed as there was not much else wrong with the car. The interior is a step above the G6, but is essentially the same as the G6E.

It looks every bit like a luxury sportscar with leather seats, faux carbon-fibre trim sections on the dashboard and doors, and a premium centre screen with excellent detail.

There are some details that are not perfect, though. The gloss piano black used for the centre console will be almost impossible to keep clean, and the striped chrome instrument cluster backing will likely appeal to some and offend others.

From the outside, the G6E Turbo looks like a prestige car with a touch of menace. The chrome mesh front end gives the car a distinguished look, and the rear pencil spoiler suggests the car has a performance edge without being a boy racer.

The G6E Turbo is a contender for the best model in the new FG range. With all the trappings of the tremendous I6 turbo engine, a world-class six-speed auto and the comfort of supportive leather seats and other luxuries, it is clear this car will be a winner.

The problem for Ford Australia is that this car, and especially the turbo six engine, is likely to develop a cult following in the next two years, only to be terminated when the engine is killed off.

Ford Australia insists it will have an imported engine to match the turbo six in 2010, but this engine is such a cracker that we find this very hard to believe.

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