2008 Ford FG Falcon XR6 Turbo Road Test

Steane Klose | Jul 4, 2008

GIVEN THE CHOICE of keys to a new car for my first TMR test drive – exotics aside - the FG Falcon was always going to be high on my list, so I wasn’t about to complain when the keys to a Dash green XR6 Turbo were slipped under my door.

Having watched with interest the FG’s gestation over the past few years I was curious to see how Ford’s new Falcon shaped up.

Some will argue that the FG isn’t new and in the strictest sense of the word they’d be right. The FG is better described as a major rework of the BA-BF platform - an excellent platform that in BF guise was more than capable of taking the fight to Holden’s newer VE Commodore.

Now, underpinning the FG and significantly reworked, it's even better.

The initial pre-flight inspection confirmed my belief that in the flesh, the FG is one handsome car. Not everyone agrees and some are of the opinion that Ford's designers failed to do enough to separate the FG from the BA-BF series - but I disagree.

The new lines are well-honed and tight, with a dynamic swage line down the big Falcon’s flanks and distinctive scalloping on the lower part of the doors being the centrepieces of a very clean design.

There is something very feline about the FG, it looks smooth, crisp and taut. Sit it alongside the VE Commodore and the still handsome VE looks a little over-styled in comparison.

lines

Styling aside, it was the colour that was going to take a little getting used to. Ford clearly wanted this press car to stand out in a crowd and while this particular shade of green (Ford calls it Dash) did grow on me, I’d prefer mine in silver thanks.

On the road, the FG attracted its share of attention, a fact no-doubt partially due to the vibrant exterior hue. At the drive-through (it's never too late for breakfast), two skater dudes with their arses hanging out of their pants took the opportunity to check it out, nodded and gave me the thumbs up.

The grass-roots of Australia had spoken - in their own inimitable way - and it was looking good for the FG.

rear2

Ford has addressed previous generation Falcon issues with the FG. The A-pillars have been moved forward to expand the glasshouse and the general perception is that you sit a little lower – but a perception is all it is.

Ford’s designers are a clever bunch. In response to feedback that suggested many drivers felt that they sat ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ the BA-BF series Falcons, Ford has raised the FG’s centre console along with the Interior Command Centre (ICC) screen.

To balance it all out Ford also raised the driver and passenger side armrests - a neat solution that seems to work.

I’m 6ft tall and had no issues with the driving position. The steering wheel is smaller than in the BF, the front seats are comfortable if lacking a little lateral thigh support and the new centre console is smart and functional.

dash

I am not a fan of the XR6T’s dashboard - the fuel and temperature gauges are tiny and the numbering on the tachometer and speedometer are difficult to read easily, an issue probably due in part to the tacky looking blue background.

The look is ‘cheap’ and buyers of the XR6T deserve to have an interface with a little more style and functionality.

On the other hand, the quality of materials and dashboard plastic all appear to have been improved, with a softer feel that should be more resistant to scratching.

The rear doors are massive, the rear window and roof line have been moved outwards and gone are the days of passengers bumping their noggins when piling into the back seat.

rear-seats

On the road, the first thing you notice is the almost complete absence of any turbo characteristics.

Driving through the congestion of Melbourne suburbia, turbo lag is noticeable by its absence. The 'Green Goblin' pulled cleanly and without fuss. It felt strong low in the rev range and to all intents and purposes behaved much like a naturally aspirated big six. The merest hint of turbo whistle gave the game away for those with a good ear.

For the FG series, Ford engineers thoroughly revised the FG XR6T’s turbo (which now spools 30 percent faster) and fitted an intercooler whose size rivals that of the intercooler fitted to the BF FPV Typhoon.

front-side

The highly regarded ZF six-speed was as smooth as expected, handling changes up and down the ratios with aplomb. The steering (a new variable ratio Y-shaped rack setup) was well-weighted with plenty of feel, and the brakes (carried over from the BF) felt progressive and strong.

The only complaints were an excess of tyre noise from the optional 19 inch 35 series performance rubber and an odd barely-perceptible harmonic finding its way through the front end which - again I’d put down to the tyres (which on this XR6T press car had seen their share of hard kilometres).

Driving over pockmarked bitumen and the odd small pothole (short sharp bumps) revealed some suspension harshness but certainly nothing that would be a deal breaker given the FG’s handling-biased suspension and big wheels.

Train crossings were a cinch and I stopped wincing in anticipation of any suspension crash-through after the first one – kudos to Ford’s engineers. The only let-down at this stage of the journey was a rather uninspiring exhaust note that only raunched-up with a pile of revs on board.

Once out of the burbs and heading down through the Yarra Valley it became apparent where the Goblin was really at home – on the open road. The first chance to really see what the 270kW 4.0-litre six was capable of came when overtaking a bulk wine transporter and the response was instant and awesome.

The ZF kicked down a gear, the turbo spooled and the truck was left instantly in the big Ford’s slipstream. Flexing the right foot at highway speed is met with lashings of unadulterated torque – clearly this engine's strength.

With the computer telling me it had been averaging 11.4 l/100 I was left wondering why anyone would buy the V8... any V8. Incidentally, at 11.4 l/100, the Goblin was returning better fuel economy than Ford’s official 11.7 l/100 rating for the XR6T and I wasn’t just cruisin’.

side

Two hours of tooling around on some great country roads and my enthusiasm for the big turbo six was unwavering.

In-gear acceleration, always a turbo strong suit, is brilliant and drivetrain refinement in general is worthy of compliment. Ford Australia won’t publish the performance times for any of its cars, for fear of upsetting Australia’s vocal minority (why do we listen to them?) but recent unofficial testing by other testers has clocked the XR6T belting from 0-100km/h in a fraction over 5 seconds.

I can confirm that this car feels that strong. FPV are hinting at 0-100 in under 5 seconds for the 310kW F6 which gives you an idea what Ford and FPV are achieving with the venerable 4.0-litre I6.

Off the highway and into the hills behind Eltham and the XR6 continued to shine. You can tell a well-sorted large car by the way it shrinks around you and gives you the sense that you are piloting a smaller, lighter vehicle.

Fitted with mono-tube shocks for the first time and a new lightweight Virtual Pivot Control Link front suspension, the Goblin belied its heft and cornered cleanly.

A hint of body roll (these are public roads so this wasn’t a full-blooded session), a front end that feels light and well planted, excellent turn in and with Ford’s well calibrated DSC system keeping the back in check, this was big car nirvana. The only thing missing was a character-laden exhaust soundtrack.

front-2

Once through the hills and in defiance of Melbourne’s persistent drought, some dirty weather set in and the opportunity to find a quiet road and test Ford’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) presented itself.

The DSC system incorporates Traction Control and is now standard across the Falcon petrol engine range.

With the DSC on and the transmission in sports mode I launched the Goblin. The DSC immediately and unobtrusively did its job, with the FG scrabbling for grip before bolting off in a straight line, the speedo needle finding the legal limit in double quick time.

To turn off the DSC, you hold down the DSC button for a few seconds until the warning light on the dash confirms the DSC is disabled.

Another full-blooded run from standstill - DSC off - was a little more of a nail-biter with that wonderful turbo donk revealing its dark side.

With 533Nm being pumped to the rear boots, physics and a wet road took over. With the big six boosted, the rear tyres didn’t stand a chance and the rear end quickly broke loose - the only choice was to back off the loud pedal.

This car would be a hoot on a skid pan! Ford’s DSC system works well and is going to save lives. When on public roads, wet or dry, leave it on.

rear

The new FG range is safer than ever with dual stage driver and front passenger airbags and head protecting side airbags standard on all models.

Oddly, given the performance capability of the XR6T, curtain and side thorax airbags are not standard fitment (they can be optioned), yet they are standard fitment on the less powerful naturally aspirated G6E.

With the rain now well and truly pelting down, I headed back through Eltham and into the suburbs of Melbourne where I spent the rest of the weekend punting through Melbourne traffic.

Two days behind the wheel of the FG XR6T was enough to highlight just how lucky Australian performance car enthusiasts are when it comes to the local products on offer. In this environment, the FG XR6T is punching well above its weight and HSVs – not SS Commodores - will be ducking the punches thrown by this ballsy six-pot.

The myriad changes that separate the BF from the FG range have revitalised the Falcon and it’s once again back on the pace, looking and feeling refreshed.

In XR6T form the Falcon offers something that the competition doesn’t. It is hard to believe that the heart of this car, that stunning 4.0-litre turbo engine will be killed off come 2010 when Ford switches to the imported Duratec ‘Cyclone’ V6. What a shame – and what a potential collectible this version of the XR6T becomes as a result.

The FG Falcon is the best Falcon ever – that’s a fact, plain and simple. It’s arguably the best large car ever built in this country.

Unfortunately, the biggest threat faced by the Falcon is no longer its large sedan opposition, the real threat is the change in buying habits of Australian motorists.

With SUVs, 4WD commercial vehicles and smaller more-efficient cars becoming increasingly popular, the big Aussie sedans are not enjoying the relevance they once did and it’s a situation that is not likely to change anytime soon.

If you want one of Australia’s best value for money home-grown large performance sedans that combines huge performance, outstanding handling and fuel economy (relative to its performance potential), then you will be hard-pressed to find a better buy than the XR6T.

face

The last word:

“What it lacks in aural character compared to a Ford or Holden V8 it makes up for with an unbeatable blend of storming performance and impressive efficiency. Smooth, refined and well sorted it represents bargain basement big car performance buying. With the imminent demise of the 4.0-litre I6, future collectible classic status is all but assured”.

steane-likes

  • Huge performance
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Sharp styling
  • Hugely improved interior
  • Solid feel
  • Impressive handling
  • Value for money

steane-dislikes

  • Cheap looking and hard to read instrument cluster
  • Excessive tyre roar on coarse chip bitumen
  • Uninspiring exhaust note
  • Curtain and side thorax airbags should be standard

What’s it Cost

RRP - $45,490

Price as tested - $52,140

Options fitted to test car:

• ZF 6-speed Automatic - $1,500

• Colour – Dash (Green) $400 optional prestige colour

• XR Luxury pack - $5,000

• Premium sports interior

• Premium audio system with colour display

• Leather trim sports seats

• Dual Zone climate control

• 19x8 inch XR-5 spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres

• Reverse Camera - $500

• Reverse Sensing System - $500

• Matching Spare Wheel - $250

specs

Engine type: 4.0L DOHC DI-VCT TURBO I6
Engine size (cc): 3984
Compression ratio: 8.8:1
Maximum power: 270kW @ 5250rpm
Maximum torque: 533Nm @ 2000rpm - 4750rpm
No. of valves: 24
Bore x stroke (mm): 92.26 x 99.31mm
Fuel System: Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
0-100 km/h: Low ‘fives’
Transmission: 6-speed manual

(Optional) ZF 6-speed adaptive automatic with Sequential Sports Shift

Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion
Consumption: 11.7 L/100km
Brakes: Front: ventilated discs twin piston caliper

Rear: solid discs single piston caliper

Fuel tank volume: 81 litres

Gallery

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Filed under: Ford North America, ford falcon, Falcon, large cars, rwd, commercial, News, Recent Features, xr6 turbo, xr6, xr, ford, ford falcon ute, ford falcon xr6 turbo, ford falcon xr6

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  • Gunnar says,
    6 years ago
    3 likes
    Awesome. The car. The Review. And even the pics. Just awesome.
    • spencer says,
      5 years ago
      2 likes
      that comment is the best!!!!!! I LIVE FORDS FPV RULES
  • 280ZX says,
    6 years ago
    1 like
    Fantastic review makes me want to run out and get one ! Great pics as well....
  • The Insider says,
    6 years ago
    1 like
    Hmmm... yes, can't help but agree, the BF XR6 Turbo was a cracking drive, but the FG XR6 Turbo is a real belter (more torque than a mothers' club...).

    Great car Ford - and at a great price.

    Nice work Steane old son.
  • zandit says,
    6 years ago
    1 like
    Excellent review Steane, hearing lots of mixed comments from customers at the dealership refering to the perceived lack of change to the new Falcon....that is until they drive it!! Its unbelievable how different the FG is from the BFII, the engine is so much more perkier even in the NA 4lt models. Well done Ford!!
    • craig says,
      6 years ago
      knob goblin action if you ask me steano..why would you blow that sort of money on a car built by morons...buy jap, better quality bang, lot less bucks to own and run
      • Doug says,
        6 years ago
        2 likes
        Ok Craig chalk and cheese. Which of the Japanese brands currently import a similar car for a similar price? Large, Turbo, RWD, for 45k?
  • Naughtyius Maximus says,
    6 years ago
    1 like
    GREAT REVIEW AND MY SENTIMENTS EXACTLY CONCERNING LOOK OF CAR NOT BEING THAT CLOSE RESEMBLED TO LAST MODEL.

    LOVE THE COLOUR AND LOOK OF THE FALCONS.....finally!
  • Benjie says,
    6 years ago
    Great pics! Too bad they are Ford press photos!
  • Rad says,
    6 years ago
    That is seriously one ugly steering wheel.
    • spencer says,
      5 years ago
      1 like
      You SUCK FORDS RULE ... SO GET OVER YOUR SELF !!!!!!
  • craig says,
    6 years ago
    that is one seriously ugly reviewer...u should adopt the helmet profile pic too steano
  • craig says,
    6 years ago
    i dont fly planes my friend..i'm very happy on ground level with my subaru impressive
  • Peter says,
    6 years ago
    I know this is a performance car, but that doesn't mean potential buyers have no interest in fuel economy data.

    Many V8 owners are looking for a grunty V8 replacement and the XR6 turbo might be OK . . . if it's not too thirsty where it will be used most by most owners. AROUND TOWN.

    The 11.7L / 100km's in the report appears to be an open road figure. How much fuel does the XR6 turbo use around town in normal commuting traffic? With petrol prices head towards $2 / L (and maybe beyond), we need to know if the car is capable of OK economy when plodding along in urban to and from work grind.

    Open road economy figures count for little if the average family car only makes one or two holiday trips into the country each year.
  • craig says,
    6 years ago
    cheques in the mail steane..oh and maccas called they need your account details as well smile
  • JamesG says,
    6 years ago
    Fuel tank holds 68L - not 81.
  • Damo says,
    6 years ago
    Great review of a seemingly great car. I was a ford man up until they canned the V8 and since then haven't looked at one. This model looks the goods though, but it still looks like a bit of a taxi inside.
    • steane says,
      6 years ago
      Is this 'the' Damo? Mitsubishi fan and long time supporter of the 380? If so, then welcome to TMR Damo - it's been a while! If not then - welcome to TMR Damo - also...!
      • Damo says,
        6 years ago
        Ahh that would be NO Steane. Having driven a 380 as a loaner, my opinion of them is not very good. My current ride is a 3MPS (yes "a faux ford"). Thanks very much for the welcome.
  • JamesG says,
    6 years ago
    I am already sold on this vehicle.

    Ive got the 2003 4-spd auto XR6T and this car is just a whole new level. More power, economy, torque and lots of little flaws fixed.

    At that price its a bargain.
  • Rae says,
    6 years ago
    I picked up XR6T with sports luxury pack on Tuesday afternoon, colour Vixen, my god this is a totally awesome car, the adrenalin rush when driving is out of this world.

    And I'm normally a holden girl, owned 4 commodores smile
    • Rae says,
      6 years ago
      Wow... Took this baby out with Mach-II Turbo 1 year old today, did a cruisy touring type trip, letting go a couple of times. Two times we ended up side by side at lights, this baby is definitely 0-100 in under 5, I need someone to time her, when turbo kicks in 100 is almost instant.
  • Damen Stephens says,
    6 years ago
    Hi Steane,

    I live in Eltham Nth so was just curious about what sort of track you took for the test drive (though I guess there are plenty of twisty bits round here, the hills always get me - as they would in a Suzuki Ignis Sport 1.5l) ? Any hints on good driving bits nearby would be greatly appreciated. Ta mate.

    Damen
    • Rick says,
      6 years ago
      Is this the same Damen from Godspell(loyola)as a friend has been trying to contact you for years.!!!
  • Jeeet says,
    6 years ago
    Hi steane which would you prefer betweeen a Falcon XR6T and a FPV F6 310 and between a Falcon XR8 and a FPV GT or GT-P?

    Is there much difference between Falcon XR models and there FPV counterparts apart from performance and im guessing Brakes and suspension?
  • Jeeet says,
    6 years ago
    i see thanks steane and by the way was it your decision to include motrbikes on this website or was it other members of the TMR team to include motorbikes on TMR (which i think is a good thing)? Do you think that sportsbikes are better at going fast than all cars? Since aparently the Bugatti Veryon does 0 to 100mph (approx 160kph) in 5.7 sec whereas Suzuki's GSX R 100 does it in apparently 5.4 secs (and it costs under £9 k here in the UK whereas the Bugatti cost £850 k so it is better value and its not even the fastest bike on sale here apparently (I stand to be corrected on this matter) both the Ducati 1098 R and Desmosedici RR are faster as are the Kawasaki ZX 10 R Ninja and the new honda Fireblade).
  • Jeeet says,
    6 years ago
    Just like to add the above post that the MV Agusta F4 312 R , F4 312 RR and F4 CC are also faster than a Suzuki GSX R 1000 (in a straight line at least) and are on sale in the UK.
  • Jess says,
    6 years ago
    What a HOT car.
  • Action Jackson says,
    6 years ago
    this was an awesome review with mad pics. This is by far the best Aussie made car and looks the best over all
    ILY Ford!
  • Sam says,
    6 years ago
    Excellent work mate!!! But if given a choice between XR6 Turbo and G6E Turbo, which one is better?
    • steven says,
      6 years ago
      hi sam have driven both the xr6 just didnt seam to have the turbo pull and noise . when i drove the g6e omg was awesome turbo sounded sweet took off and burbled when it changed gears was an auto 6 speed as well .i dont what teh difference in the motors are but the xr6t ute was miles behind teh g6e i drove.
  • steven says,
    6 years ago
    yep have driven one and omg they r amazn to drive for power right through the gears and no lettn off ford are the leaders in 6 turbos .i commented on the xr8 ute the only reason i would still go xr8 is the note and does feal more torque but i know its more .anyway good work ford as usual
  • sam says,
    6 years ago
    Steven, it seems like G6E Turbo is the ultimate package with additional 2000$ spent on 19" wheels with sports tuned suspension... Thx for the ifo mate..smile
  • zoren says,
    5 years ago
    Yes....ultimate package....LOOK AT THE FRONT GRILL LOOKS LIKE BARBECUE GRILL SAM...SUCH AN UGLY CAR.....AND THIRSTHY...OF COURSE AMAZING TO DRIVE BECAUSE ITS BIG ENGINE STEVEN.....
  • ersin says,
    5 years ago
    hay i really some advice here. ive just placed an order on a new fg xr6 turbo in manual. i only drove the auto and it felt slow. will the manual feel like a actuall turbo car. all im after is that strong surge of gforce, all the evo's got it and the wrx's but will the fg have the same feeling if not more?

    please get back to me
  • Veli says,
    5 years ago
    Ive always owned a holden since I could drive... Been a hold fan my whole life ...I drove the fg XR6T last week....never thought id say this... but im trading in my VE on saturday... Im in loveeeeeeeeeeeeeee
  • steve mc says,
    5 years ago
    i like the idea of getting a semi auto 6spd xr6 turbo. will there be much difference in 1/4 mile vs manual. and everday driving? 6spd auto surely gotta be up there if not quicker than man yeah?
  • says,
    4 years ago

    My wife has a FG FALCON XR6T orange of course, it's problems are
    Ford's build quality is not what it should be, infact it's pretty bloody bad.
    My Ford dealer, does not fix warranty issues/problems with the car.
    The front seats are not comfortable, my AUII FALCON's seats are way better, not kidding.
    The big wheel (she has the big ones) rubbers cost over $400 each, this car spins the big
    rubbers, I want to get a smaller/cheaper wheels and rubbers but think they wont last long
    with the all grunt, would have to drive with a very light foot.

    Love our FG XR6T but you buy one you have to be prepared to live with the above problems.

    Many people test drive the XR6 find it's got heaps of grunt and settle one one without a turbo.

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