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First look: Ford's Orion Falcon breaks official cover

Redesigned: Eighth-generation Falcon takes design cues from new Mondeo.

Ford Australia's redesigned FG-series Falcon sedan and ute make debut appearance

Ford logo17 Feb 2008

FORD Australia today unveiled its crucial new FG Falcon sedan and ute in Melbourne – alongside the surprise showing of FPV’s new muscle-car range ahead of its release in June - in what was a carbon-copy of the way GM Holden chose to reveal its billion-dollar VE Commodore 18 months ago.

Due on sale in May and featuring a striking new design that takes styling cues from the Blue Oval’s sleek new Mondeo mid-sizer, Ford says the eighth generation of its homegrown large-car is the newest Falcon since the unloved AU series was launched a decade ago in 1998.

All-new on the inside as well, the FG Falcon rides on a longer-wheelbase, wider-track version of the AU-BF Falcon family and features all-new, Territory-style front suspension, a new variable-ratio steering system, new five-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions, upgraded inline six, turbo six and V8 engines – each with more power and better fuel economy – and a comprehensive new safety package.

Australian-firsts include a self-tuning parking brake and monotube shock absorbers but, surprisingly, Ford has not followed Holden’s lead in fitting electronic stability control as standard across its new ute range. The potentially life-saving ESC system is standard on all petrol sedans, but side curtain airbags remain optional on downstream versions.

Four years in the making, the FG Falcon will hope to arrest a sales slide that has affected all large cars in Australia, but a redesigned FG Falcon wagon is at least 12 months away with Ford choosing to reveal an upgraded BF Series III version of its current, fleet-oriented load-lugger to do battle with Holden’s upcoming VE Sportwagon.

Ford won’t reveal the total cost of the FG redesign and is yet to reveal how it intends to market its all-new large model alongside Holden’s VE and its own formidable new Mondeo.

27 center imageWhile the appearance of FPV’s FG range was the surprise of today’s unveiling, the 2008 Falcon drew plenty of applause for its striking new bodyshell design, which Ford says delivers significantly better structural integrity, occupant protection and refinement, and features three different front-end treatments.

Also news is a significant realignment of models and specifications, including the addition of a new sports luxury “G Series” sedan range.

“The all-new FG Falcon range represents another step forward for automotive vehicle design in Australia,” said new Ford Australia president Bill Osborne.

“It is an exceptional large car package that delivers outstanding performance, fuel efficiency, refinement and safety to meet the needs of a wide variety of customers.

“For the first time in Falcon's history, the new model will come to market with three distinct faces on the vehicle, offering both private and fleet customers, and both sports and luxury customers, a new Falcon to suit their lifestyle,” he said.

Comprising the new three-family FG Falcon sedan line-up is Falcon XT, G Series (including G6, G6E and G6E Turbo) and XR, which incorporates the XR6, XR6 Turbo and XR8.

“The introduction of the all-new G6E Turbo will create excitement and provide the perfect balance of sports luxury performance for customers who don't wish to compromise on either sports or luxury options,” said Mr Osborne.

A new reverse camera system is standard on G6E and G6E Turbo models, and optional on the overt sports XR range, while a reverse parking system is standard on all G Series models and available as an option across the rest of the sedan range.

Ford says its new FG series prefix denotes the new model’s newness compared to the outgoing BFII iteration and also serves “as an acknowledgement of the strong heritage of the long-running Fairmont and Ghia nameplates”. The latter is also recognised in the new G Series variant names.

Standard Falcon XT will be powered by a 195kW/391Nm version of Ford’s venerable inline six-cylinder engine, which will cease production in 2010 after 50 years of Falcon service, mated to a new five-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift (SSS). An optional 156kW E-Gas dedicated LPG engine with a four-speed SSS auto is also available, as is the ZF six-speed automatic transmission.

Standard XT equipment will include twin front airbags and twin front side head/thorax airbags, a driver and front passenger Beltminder system, automatic climate control, a four-way power driver's seat, a four-speaker single-CD audio system, a larger new Interior Command Centre (ICC) LCD screen, cruise control and a 60/40-split folding rear seat.

The entry G Series variant adds a unique G Series front bumper and grille, front foglights, 17-inch alloy wheels, suede seat bolsters, a rear centre armrest with cup-holders, luxury sports suspension and reverse parking sensors.

In addition, the G6E gets the acclaimed ZF six-speed automatic transmission, side indicators integrated into the exterior mirror, a front fender badge, unique 17-inch alloy wheels, a unique G6E grille, a Bluetooth&reg mobile phone integration module, a premium audio system with seven-inch TFT colour ICC screen, six-disc in-dash CD player with subwoofer, an electrochromatic rear-vision mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats and an eight-way power driver's seat with three-position memory. G6E also adds a reverse camera and side curtain airbags as standard.

As the luxury sports flagship, the G6E Turbo gains a 270kW/533Nm turbocharged six, the ZF six-speed automatic transmission, new 18-inch alloys (19s are available as an option for the first time in a Ford), a rear lip spoiler, bright headlamp bezels, fabric-wrapped lower door trims and an iPod Integration feature.

Unlike with XT, the new Falcon XR range will come with a new Tremec six-speed manual transmission as standard (with the option of either five-speed automatic or ZF six-speed automatic transmissions), sports suspension, signature XR “double-drop” headlights, an XR front bumper, grille and rockers, foglights and specific 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there’s a sports instrument cluster, sports seats, alloy pedal covers and an aluminium gearshifter on manual transmission models. A reverse camera and reverse sensing systems are options.

The new Falcon XR6 Turbo will carry the same specification as the XR8 for the first time, including a limited-slip differential, upgraded front brakes and 18-inch alloy wheels. The ZF 6A will be optional.

Differentiated by its engine and signature bonnet power bulge, the Orion XR8 borrows FPV’s punchy Boss 290 5.4-litre four-valve V8, which for the FG series a new exhaust system with a Semi Active Muffler (SAM) that’s claimed to deliver exhaust note and refinement advances. The same five-spoke 19-inch alloy is also optional for XR8.

The new FG Falcon Ute goes on sale shortly after the sedan is released in May, available in either Cab Chassis or Styleside Box bodystyles. Entry-level power choices include the sedan’s 195kW/391Nm I6, matched to the new five-speed auto or six-speed manual, and the dedicated LPG E-Gas engine, mated to the carryover four-speed auto.

Standard kit includes twin front airbags, a driver and passenger Beltminder system, ABS with EBD, cloth trim, a single-CD audio system with a larger new Interior Command Centre (ICC) LCD screen, cruise control, four-way power driver's seat, power mirrors and windows, and steering wheel controls for the audio and cruise control systems. Side head/thorax airbags are available as part of an optional Safety Pack that also includes a perimeter alarm system.

The semi-sports R6 variant is new to Falcon Ute and offers sports suspension, foglights, 16-inch alloy wheels, XR rockers and rear bumper, a new flush-fitting tonneau cover for Styleside models, sports bucket seats with unique seat trim, passenger seat lumbar adjustment and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The new XR6 Falcon Ute, also available in Styleside or Cab Chassis guises, comes with either a petrol six mated to 6M or 5A transmissions or the LPG six mated to the current 4A. It gets the full XR body treatment, plus unique 17-inch alloy wheels and Traction Control (TC) as standard.

Inside, there’s a sports instrument cluster, sports seats, alloy pedal covers and an aluminium gear shifter on manual transmission models, along with automatic climate control and a sports leather steering wheel. Bluetooth mobile phone integration, iPod Integration and 18-inch alloy wheels are available as part of an optional XR Sports Pack.

As with the XR6 Turbo sedan, the force-fed ute will for the first time be specified to the same level as the XR8, apart from its 270kW/533Nm turbo six. That mean s it will comprise a limited-slip differential, upgraded front brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels and the option of the ZF 6A.

That leaves the XR8 Falcon Ute, which gets the same equipment, but this time comes with a Boss 290 5.4-litre V8. Again, 19-inch alloys are also available for the first time, either on their own or as part of the XR Luxury Pack, which also includes premium sports interior, leather seat trim, premium audio system and dual-zone climate control.

Finally, the surprise preview of FPV’s FG-series range ahead of its June on-sale date was accompanied by news that, for the first time, the Ford badge will not appear on FPV models. Instead, FPV badges will take pride of place on their grilles and bootlids.

“Featuring the FPV badge on all our new models is a major repositioning for the FPV brand,” said Ford Performance Vehicles general manager Rod Barrett.

FPV chose not to divulge performance figures for its all-new line-up some four months prior to launch, but said that along with FPV’s new-look turbo-six F6 variants, the 2008 range will comprise an expanded V8-powered GT model family, including the previous GT and GT-P sedan nameplates, plus the new luxury GT-E sedan.

Highlighted by a unique front grille treatment, rear wing, side striping and V8 bonnet bulge with new hood decals, the GT-E is further distinguished from its V8 siblings by a rear lip spoiler, chrome accenting, GT-E badging, unique 19-inch alloy wheels, premium brake package and six-piston Brembo brakes.

“The GT-E is a sophisticated luxury performance car that will cater for those buyers that don’t want the stripes, wings, and seats offered in the GT-P however want to retain all the performance attributes of that car,” said Mr Barrett.

While Super Pursuit and Pursuit Ute variants complete the GT series range, FPV’s new F6 series family features the F6 sedan and F6 Ute (the Typhoon and Tornado nomenclature has been discontinued with the Orion Falcon series).

In a backhander to regular ute buyers, all new FPV sedans and utes will come with DSC stability control as standard for the first time, while the ZF 6A will be a no-cost option across the range.

Read more:

FG Falcon: Inline Aussie six's final swansong

FG Falcon: A better packaged interior

FG Falcon: Ford goes to finishing school

FG Falcon: Engineered to lead

FG Falcon: No FG wagon - yet


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