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Cooking on gas: The EcoLPI Falcon challenges most of the old stereotypes of LPG cars.

LPG Ford Falcon collects Best Car award, but German brands dominate class of 2011

29 Nov 2011

FORD’S Falcon EcoLPI has become the first LPG-powered car to win an Australia’s Best Cars award from the collective state auto clubs.

The locally made six-cylinder sedan – which employs a liquid-injection LPG fuel delivery system developed with Australian automotive innovator Orbital – won the best large car under $60,000 category in the annual awards presented by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) in Melbourne last night.

The award to the Falcon – its sixth category success in the award’s 12 years – is a shot in the arm for Ford Australia.

But it was importer Volkswagen that cleaned up in the 2011 awards, collecting five trophies in one night, with its Polo, Golf, Jetta, Tiguan and Touareg all getting the judges’ thumbs-up in their respective categories.

Almost two-thirds of the 15 gongs went to German manufacturers, with Mercedes-Benz getting two, and Audi and BMW one each, alongside VW’s five.

Only one Japanese-made car, the Lexus CT200h hybrid hatch, scored in the awards, while three Korean cars received trophies – Kia’s new Rio light car and Sorento SUV, and Hyundai’s iMax people-mover.

27 center imageFrom top: Kia Rio, Volkswagen Touareg, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, Lexus CT200h, Land Rover Discovery, Volkswagen Golf.

The final award went to the British-made, Indian-owned Land Rover Discovery four-wheel drive.

The $42,790 Falcon EcoLPI XT – launched in August – was the only Australian-made car to figure in the awards, which are handed down by a panel of judges from auto clubs such as the NRMA, RACV and RACQ.

AAA said the EcoLPI Falcon challenged most of the old stereotypes of LPG cars, such as diminished performance, efficiency and “boot with the useable space of a shoebox”, while taking advantage of the cheaper price of LPG fuel.

Chief judge Mark Borlace, of the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia, said the Falcon EcoLPI felt like a normal petrol Falcon.

“If anything, it feels slightly better in that it produces more power and more torque earlier in the rev range,” he said.

Mr Borlace said LPG burned a lot cleaner than petrol or diesel, which meant the Falcon EcoLPI emitted just 203 grams of CO2 per kilometre, compared with 236g/km in the regular petrol Falcon.

The Falcon EcoLPI produces 27 per cent more power and 10 per cent more torque than the Falcon’s previous vapour-injection E-Gas system, while using 16 per cent less fuel (12.5 litres per 100km).

Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead Phipps described the award as absolutely fabulous and a deserving win for the Ford Australia engineering team that had brought to production the first LPG liquid injection system in Ford’s global operations.

She said it was also a great outcome for Ford’s production teams in Geelong and Campbellfield, and for suppliers who contributed to the project.

Rival Holden also has a new dedicated LPG Commodore in the pipeline for launch in early 2012, replacing the current petrol-LPG dual-fuel system.

However, GoAuto understands the revised Holden system retains a multi-point gaseous injection system, unlike the liquid system used on the Falcon and Holden Special Vehicles E3 LPG models.

LPG vehicle sales have been in decline for the past few years, since the federal government slashed subsidies and oil prices declined after the spike of 2008.

Among other 2011 Best Cars awards, Kia’s new Rio Si was judged the best light car under $20,000, while its Sorento SLi won the best SUV over $40,000 gong.

VW’s five awards included best light car over $20,000 (Polo 66TDI Comfortline), best small car under $35,000 (Golf 90TSI Trendline), best medium car under $50,000 (Jetta 118TSI Comfortline), best SUV under $40,000 (Tiguan 103TDI) and best luxury SUV over $60,000 (Touareg V6 TDI).

Mercedes-Benz scored for best medium car over $50,000 (C250 CDI Avantgarde) and best sports car over $80,000 (C63 AMG).

Audi got a look in with its new mainstream luxury car, the A6 TDI Quattro (best large car over $60,000), while BMW won for best sports car under $80,000 with its recently revised 135i Coupe.

The only Japanese car to top its category was the hybrid Lexus CT200h (best small car over $35,000.

Hyundai’s sole award was for best people-mover (iMax), while Land Rover’s Discovery 4 SDV6 SE was named the best all-terrain 4WD.

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