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Tim O'Brien | Dec 5, 2011 | 7 Comments

Surprising - that's the new FG Falcon MkII with EcoBoost. If you were expecting a slug, which I was, then, like me, you'll have to think again.

Some scepticism of course is understandable. Putting a four-cylinder engine in an Australian family car has a chequered history.

You too might remember the 'Starfire' four-cylinder Commodore, all 58kW of it. The stuff of nightmares...

However, if our first drive is any indication, the FG Falcon MkII with Ford's new direct-injected and turbocharged EcoBoost with twin-independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) - designed to maximise combustion efficiency - is about to rewrite and redress that history.

Because with the Ecoboost under the bonnet, the performance of the Falcon off the mark, when lined up against the I6 engine, is near enough to be directly comparable.

2012 ford fg falcon mkii first drive review 04

To cut straight to the chase, with two occupants in the new FG MkII EcoBoost, we recorded 7.6 seconds dead in the 0-100km/h dash.

Two-up in an otherwise identical G6 with the proven and very respected I6 under the bonnet, we recorded 7.2 seconds.

Now, the Falcon 'six' is a known quantity - known to be strong, and known to make the FG Falcon a swift point-to-point tourer.

That the Ecoboost is within half a second of its time, hauling the same hefty Falcon body, is little short of remarkable.

To prove the point further, we loaded up with four lardy motoring journalists to test its performance with some serious ballast in the seats - the kind of load you might have in the car when shuffling the family and the in-laws about - and ran it again against the clock.

Despite the four heffalumps, the Ecoboost ran a best of 8.02 seconds in a stall-start run.

That's not half-bad, and proof of at least one thing: four turbo-fed super-efficient cylinders can move the FG Falcon very smartly.

Ford Australia is keeping 'mum' for the moment on power and torque outputs; but that performance in the FG would suggest that there may be more than the 149kW and 300Nm found in the EcoBoost Mondeo.

We put the new car, in pre-production trim, around the inner track at Ford's Proving Ground south-west of Melbourne. Our time in the saddle was brief, but two things were clear: the FG Falcon MkII with EcoBoost 'works'; this car feels crisp, responsive and lively underfoot.

Few would pick that there are just four-cylinders at work under that expansive Falcon bonnet.

Secondly, having two pots less than the straight-six rebalances the nose. It shifts weight rearward of the front suspension, reducing weight by 50-60kg off the front axle, and by 10kg off the rear.

At the wheel you'll notice the change. The FG MkII with EcoBoost feels more nimble and more compliant at the front end.

Turn-in, always a strong point of the FG, feels slightly sharper and cornering balance also seems slightly improved. And, as those 0-100km/h dash figures showed, there's little turbo lag to complain about.

Mated to the six-speed ZF automatic, with crisp changes and quick downshifts, the EcoBoost worked very well.

We'll need to verify all that with a longer test, but for now impressions are very positive.

So, yes, it works. If fuel consumption figures also deliver, Ford Australia will have hatched an unlikely winner for family and fleet buyers with the FG MkII EcoBoost Falcon.

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