FORD FALCON ECOBOOST G6 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: large sedan
Price: $40,835 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.5 l/100km | tested: 9.2 l/100km
The Ford Falcon is a stalwart of the Australian motoring industry. It’s been around for as long as many of us can remember.
The Falcon used to mean something that everyone understood - that badge signified a big Aussie six or eight under the bonnet, acres of room, and effortless long-distance motoring.
For families, it, and the Commodore, was the car of choice. But not now. For Ford Australia, if it’s to sell cars in the numbers it needs, tradition has to go out the window.
And so a four cylinder - turbo-charged, direct-injected, and as modern as tomorrow - now joins the ‘six’ in the Falcon range.
We slipped behind the wheel of the 2.0 litre EcoBoost G6 Falcon to spend a week finding out if Ford's new weapon - efficiency - is effective enough to win back some hearts.
The EcoBoost's media launch sent us around Tasmania, but now, in a new G6, we decided to put it into far wilder and more inhospitable conditions - Sydney.
Quality: The fit and feel of the plastics is generally very good. And, although we noticed a couple of mismatched colours and textures, the stuff you touch feels good beneath the fingertips or palms.
The cabin is a little plain, but airy and solid, and generally has a better feel than its nearest competitor, Holden’s Commodore.
Comfort: The interior is gigantic, comfortable and perfectly agreeable. It’s an easy place to be, with good clearances for getting in and out.
The plastics and fabrics should prove hardy although the seats front and rear are squidgy around the edges and lacking in support when you decide to press on.
The seat backs could do with slightly firmer padding, but there’s plenty of adjustment for the driver, as there is with the steering column.
There were no complaints from the back, apart from the soft edges, and two kids can loll about without causing any territorial disputes.
Equipment: The G6 is the mid-tier specification level sitting between the XT and the G6E.
It features electric windows all round, cloth seats, climate control and infotainment screen. G6 spec also brings Bluetooth for voice and music streaming, plus USB connectivity for phones and music devices.
The touch-screen sits atop the centre stack, and is a good size and bright enough to see in sunlight. It’s no smartphone interface, more stab than touch-sensitive, but does feel like it will survive years of abuse
The rear parking sensors are very welcome in a car of this size, with a graphical assistant on the touch-screen a nice bonus.
Storage: Both front doors feature long, deep bins with a cutout for soft-drink sized bottles. The console storage bin and glove box are huge, with plenty of space to hide valuables.
Of course, the 535 litre boot is massive and largely free of awkward intrusions into the space, meaning luggage or boxes slot in easily through the wide-opening boot.
Fold-down rear seats also give it an edge over its Holden-badged competitor.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The whole point of this car is its engine. The 2.0 litre EcoBoost is a revelation. Boasting 179kW and a scarcely believable 353Nm of torque, it’s is astonishing for an engine of its size
It's no fireball, but every time we stepped in and put it through its paces, the idea that the Falcon 'needs' its six cylinder engine became more and more absurd.
It doesn’t feel any slower than the six on road, and, with all that torque, the performance is barely blunted even with a full load.
Put it to work, and the EcoBoost gets the 1648kg Falcon off the line smartly enough, but it's in the gears where the engine really impresses. There's a huge slab of torque sitting under the toe at mid-speeds - and virtually lag-free.
And, aided by the responsive six-speed transmission, there is no trouble shooting into gaps or overtaking. You quickly realise that the lighter, more frugal engine is all this car needs for the sort of driving most of us do.
Refinement: The EcoBoost engine can sound a tad rough when it’s cold, but most direct-injected engines do. Once it’s warm though, you won’t even be aware it’s running (so much so that a passenger asked me if the car featured stop-start).
The transmission is smooth and so well-tuned that sport mode is barely required. So we barely used it.
The claimed 8.5 l/100km looks quite achievable - we averaged 9.2 l/100km and never pushed past 10 l/100km, no matter how hard we tried.
Suspension: The EcoBoost's lighter weight also brings with it the Luxury Sports suspension tune. The car sits 13mm lower and is firmed up just a touch. Up front is Ford's double-wishbone ‘Virtual Pivot Control’ while the rear is a familiar ‘Control Blade’ setup.
This endows the G6 with excellent grip at the front. You can tip the car into corners at a brisk pace without having to worry about understeer.
You can also do this with the six, but the lighter four is more satisfying, more confidence-inspiring, and, yes, more competent.
With weight taken off both axles, most of it from the front, the car’s balance shifts towards the middle of the car and is more stable and settled as a result.
The steering is serene, if a bit light and lacking in feel, but this isn't a hot hatch.
Braking: The only debit is the brake pedal. The feel is odd; too soft for my liking (but not quite mushy). It took a bit of getting used to and some head-scratching, but the actual stopping power is pretty impressive with little dipping of the nose even when pushed hard.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
Safety features: Among a raft of safety features, the G6 has six airbags, ABS, dynamic stability control and traction control, which is now basically a minimum standard of most cars.
The reverse sensors are effective and the touch-screen shows a representation of what the radar is ‘seeing.’
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service costs: $250/15,000km/12mths
Ford’s myFord Price-Capped servicing starts at $250 per service and applies to A and B logbook services. An additional $75 charge applies for brake fluid if required and $215 for a radiator service.
The same service plan for the six-cylinder is $265.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Holden Commodore Equipe ($39,990) - Also good buying (and a lot of car for the money) but the Falcon feels ‘classier’ on road and will cost less to run given its better fuel economy. (see Commodore reviews)
Toyota Aurion Prodigy ($41,490) - The Aurion is demonstrably smaller than the Falcon and also offers only front-wheel-drive against the Falcon’s nicely balanced RWD feel. It’s beautifully finished inside though.
As with the Commodore, the six-cylinder Aurion falls short of the EcoBoost’s frugality. (see Aurion reviews)
Skoda Superb 118 TSI Ambition ($38,990) The big, Czech-built Skoda might be a bit on the obscure side, but its 1.8 litre TSI engine provides comparable performance courtesy of its seven-speed DSG transmission.
Its very smart interior also offers more legroom than either Falcon or Commodore thanks to the front-drive layout. (see Superb reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Coming away from our time with the G6, we’re still shaking our heads at how great that engine is.
Its power deficit is tiny compared to the identically-priced six cylinder - but the EcoBoost feels slightly more nimble and more satisfying to drive.
The G6 won’t win any awards for interior or exterior styling, but Falcons have always been about honesty - what you see is what you get, no clever tricks, just a good solid effortless people’s car.
The G6 EcoBoost gives the Falcon a technology and efficiency boost that, when word gets out, may give it some renewed momentum in sales.
With this engine, a hugely underrated large car is made better.
- Falcon XT EcoBoost - $37,235
- Falcon G6 EcoBoost - $40,835
- Falcon G6E EcoBoost - $46,735
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