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Car reviews - Ford - Falcon - G6E

Our Opinion

We like
Design, performance, steering, handling, space, value, economy potential, ride, rarity, long term investment potential
Room for improvement
Odd driving position, dated interior, no rear-seat headrests (!), short-term resale value

Gallery

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Ford logo5 Jan 2015

Price and equipment

NEARLY 55 years of the longest continuously running family car nameplate in automotive history, and wouldn’t you know it, the least popular version of the Falcon is probably the best.

Sacrilegiously, it’s not even powered by a six-cylinder engine (let alone a V8), but an imported 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo swimming in that massive engine bay.

Following Holden’s lead early last year when it dropped VF prices by upwards of $10,000 over the preceding VE, Ford has set the G6E EcoBoost from $40,110 plus on-road costs – a $6625 drop over the outgoing version.

Equating to the Fairmont Ghia in traditional Falcon variant nomenclature, the G6E includes leather upholstery, satellite navigation, parking sensors, a reversing camera, Sync2 voice-control connectivity, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, colour touchscreen, DAB+ digital radio, Wi-Fi hotspot, a powered driver’s seat with memory, nine-speaker premium audio, dual-zone climate control, puddle lamps, cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels.

All models, by the way, also score Ford’s Emergency Assistant system, which contacts services with either the press of a button, automatically after an airbag deployment, or the fuel-pump shut-off has triggered after a crash.

All variants of the final Falcon also now come with front and rear parking sensors, adding to an already high list of standard safety equipment.

You get a lot of metal for money.

Interior

Prepare yourself – the interior of the FG X is the G6E’s weakest link, particularly if you’re familiar with the equivalent VF Calais’ beautiful cabin presentation. In fact, this is inferior to the 2002 BA Falcon’s interior.

Falcon sales are a fraction of what they once were and no sane organisation would spend tens of millions on something that will never see a return on investment. But that’s not the buyer’s problem, and the reality is the 2008 FG interior carryover is compromised.

Take the driving position – fine for short statured folk, for taller people, the seat is too high, the steering wheel is set too low, and the A-pillars and/or roof will snag heads all too often.

The dash itself is hopelessly dull and dated, with chintzy console trim juxtaposed with lovely stitched leather on the cushy seats, steering wheel and gear lever.

However, save for the unsightly and fiddly climate control buttons – whatever were Ford’s designers thinking – everything does actually function well, from the neat analogue/digital dial combo and effective ventilation to the ample storage options.

The new Sync2 connectivity system has a surprise and delight feature – one-shot spoken address entry for the sat-nav system. All you need to say is ’75 Smith Street Collingwod’ and the voice recognition system, also known as Karen, goes searching.

The hi-res touchscreen interface is intuitive, colourful and clear, and the layout, which is broken up into four quarters – navigation, audio, climate and phone – is logical and easy to fathom.

But while there’s heaps of space in all five available seats, the short rear backrest is a disaster, with no headrests for adults. If future historians ever care to pinpoint areas where the FG went wrong over preceding Falcons, here’s a good start.

At least the whole ensemble folds to allow boot access, and that’s the sole advantage this interior has over the Commodore sedan’s.

However, while the luggage area is long and wide, it is appallingly presented – if you lift the cheap mat you’ll find one of the most piecemeal finishes we’ve seen in a modern car.

But, you know what? Let’s give the G6E EcoBoost a break. Boot aside, the quality is fine. The seats, which are finished in that perforated hide, feel sumptuous, there’s very little road noise or wind noise intrusion, and you feel cocooned from the outside elements.

Plus, if you crave to feel connected to a car while needing a smooth, refined, effortless and relaxing long distance cruiser at a bargain price, you’ll love how the four-cylinder Falcon drives.

Engine and transmission

Remember the 1980 Holden Commodore 4? This is nothing remotely like it.

Packing in a sizeable 179kW of power and 353Nm of torque, the G6E’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is mated to one of the finest transmissions on the planet – ZF’s brilliant six-speed automatic.

The result will make you wonder why more people don’t buy four-pot Falcons. Off the line acceleration is instant, eager, composed and lag-free, with the Ford sprinting to 100km/h in under seven seconds. It might not sound like a Falcon, but the 2.0-litre turbo certainly flies like one.

At no time does the G6E’s hefty 1706kg kerb weight feel like it overwhelms the 1999cc engine, because there’s just no hesitation when you need to overtake or pass slower vehicles. Up-changes are slick and quick – especially in Sport mode. Even laden with four adults, the Falcon’s muscle is remarkably strong, yet refined. Well done, Ford.

But there’s a price to pay for such effortless gutsiness, and that’s higher-than-expected fuel use if you are not careful. Exploit all 179kW and you’ll likely nearly equal the petrol consumption of a regular Falcon six.

The trick here is not be tempted by the addictive speed on offer. The EcoBoost’s performance can be too much of a temptation. Drive sedately, and you’ll most probably benefit from the potential economy on offer.

Ride and handling

Dropping two cylinders saves at least 50kg of engine mass over the front axle, and the result is the most agile Falcon in recent memory.

As part of the FG X upgrade, the four-pot Ford gains a larger front stabiliser bar, retuned springs and dampers, revised suspension geometry and 14mm diameter rear anti-roll bar.

The upshot is steering that is surprisingly responsive. Even wearing 245/40R18 tyres, it turns into corners with vigour and bite, instantly connecting the driver with the road.

If all this sounds like the helm might be too nervous, give yourself a few hundred metres, because once acclimatised, the EcoBoost boasts an agility and verve that shames most medium sedans today. The driver knows exactly where the front wheels are all the time, for a confident and planted feel.

Another Falcon strength is its chassis’ ability to cope with rough roads, soaking up bumps and irregularities like a true local car should. Only the low bumper’s bottom edge’s propensity to scrape over speed bumps annoys.

Add nicely moderate traction control systems and strong brakes, and the supple-riding G6E EcoBoost is a driver’s car for Australian roads and conditions. It will take a great import to equal – let alone better – the Falcon dynamically.

Safety and servicing

All FG X Falcons achieve a five-star crash safety rating with an overall score of 34.61 out of a maximum 37 points.

The warranty period is for three years and 100,000km. From February 2015, Ford will offer Capped Price Service for life. Before then, it covers all vehicles built since 2007, and up to seven years old or with 135,000km, whichever comes first.

Service intervals are 12 months/15,000km, with free 12-month roadside assistance.

Verdict

In any objective measure, any Falcon is a heart-over-head purchase – one based on a mix of nostalgia and affection for the Blue Oval brand.

Yet the G6E EcoBoost proves that – despite the dated and compromised interior – there are very tangible virtues to be enjoyed here as well, including superb steering tactility, real dynamic capability and excellent ride comfort.

Plus, the four-pot turbo makes the big Ford feel smaller and more agile than any Falcon ever.

So while the flawed packaging, potentially terrible resale (this is a dead car walking, after all) and patchy cabin materials all count against and weigh heavily on the FG X, there will never be anything like this again come 2017.

Charming and engaging, the G6E EcoBoost is a bittersweet finale.

Rivals

1. Holden VF Calais V6: From $40,790, plus on-road costs
Handsome and powerful, the Calais’ mix of comfort, refinement and strength makes it not only especially suited to Australian roads, but also exceptionally great to travel in. This is arguably the best sedan this country has ever produced.

2. Chrysler 300 Limited: From $43,000, plus on-road costs
Boldly American but with enough modernity to give it an international appeal, the butch 300 Limited offers a sweet drivetrain and plenty of panache, backed up by a solid rear-drive chassis. But the locals are a better drive.

3. Toyota Aurion Prodigy: From $41,490, plus on-road costs
A Camry in V6 drag, the Aurion’s 200kW/336Nm drivetrain provides an incredibly velvety performance experience, as well as surprisingly accomplished handling, but the chassis can feel overwhelmed by it all, the cabin quality is below-par and the styling, well…

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