Vehicle Style: Large sedan
Price: $40,110 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 176kW/353Nm 2.0 4cyl petrol | 6spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.7 l/100km | tested: 10.8 l/100km
The EcoBoost Falcon could be ‘just the thing’, in fact should be just the thing - the kind of car to turn the tide on the large sedan sales slump.
However, it joins the six and eight-cylinder models that make up the 'new' FG X range, and, like those others in the range, its destiny is set on the finite timeline of Ford production in Australia.
There’ll be time for nostalgia later though. Right now we’re focused on the very serious business of putting the luxury-spec G6E, with a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, through the wringer.
The EcoBoost 'four' is available as a no-cost option for the G6E (despite the '6' in the badge).
But the question has be asked: in a market where the ‘big Aussie six sedan’ is no longer king of the hill, can a big Aussie sedan with a 'four' under the bonnet cut the mustard?
And what about the changes made to the FG X; are they enough to win buyers away from increasingly high-tech, high-value competition?
We found there’s plenty to like about the FG X, and a few sore points too.
- Leather upholstery, power windows, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents.
- Powered driver’s seat, dusk-sensing headlamps, auto wipers.
- Cruise control, trip computer, multi-function steering wheel.
- Infotainment: Sync 2 touchscreen display with sat-nav, digital radio, AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming. USB and 3.5mm AUX audio input.
- Luggage: 535 litres with rear seats up.
Inside the G6E, it's clear that Ford spent the greater part of the budget for the update on the exterior of the car - there are mostly minor changes inside.
Anyone familiar with earlier FG models will feel right at home. There are some new finishes and trim, and a changed colour-pallette, but the FG interior has always had some ergonomic flaws, and these remain.
We find the driver’s seat cushion too high, and after putting all shapes and sizes behind the wheel, most agreed with us. It is a personal thing, but something you'll want to check out for the long term of ownership.
The seats are big and wide, lounge-like in their comfort but not ideal for smaller drivers - especially if you prefer to be gripped securely.
The G6E driver’s seat is equipped with electric adjustment and two-position memory. Leather trim comes standard, and our tester featured optional ‘Northern Tan’ seats - but for the less adventurous there’s also Shadow black.
Ford’s latest Sync 2 infotainment system places an eight-inch touchscreen high in the centre stack and can be used to control sat nav, DAB radio, climate control, audio and mobile phone.
The system impresses, voice commands allow easy access to the system functions, there’s ‘one shot’ navigation entry that allows you to reel of an address as if you were having a conversation, and the crystal clear digital radio reception is ideal for long hauls.
Sadly the design of the dash is dated, the centre-stack hasn’t changed so it's still a mass of buttons, some of which don’t need to be there with Sync 2 in place.
There is also no illumination for steering wheel controls, the vinyl on the driver's door pocket had started to peel, and there are plenty of grainy-looking hard plastics on the lower dash.
It's the SYNC 2 and the quality of the leather trim that rescues the G6E from a lower interior score.
ON THE ROAD
- 176kW/353Nm 2.0 litre turbo petrol four
- Six speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Vented front and solid rear disc brakes
- MacPherson front and ‘Control Blade’ multi-link rear suspension
The 'FG X' Falcon range is living proof of the benefits of forced induction.
The turbo four is definitely the one to go for.
It puts out 176kW of power at 5500rpm and 353Nm of torque from 2000rpm.
Those are pretty decent figures and sit just 19kW and 38Nm below the 4.0 litre petrol six.
And on the road, the EcoBoost Falcon feels surprisingly alert. The 2.0 litre engine is untroubled by hills and rarely feels flat or bogged down, even with a carload of passengers.
Same goes for the Falcon’s six-speed automatic. It is a perfect match to the engine, never setting a foot wrong, picking the correct gear for the situation, and happy to kickdown without fuss or harshness when called upon.
There’s a noticeably different sound to the EcoBoost Falcon around town - the absence of the iconic straight six and the higher pitch of the turbo four seems odd at first.
It’s never intrusive - just a point of difference for the Falcon faithful.
We ran some classic Aussie miles in the G6E: loaded it up with adults, and did a quick highway sprint from Melbourne, north up the Hume and into the foothills of the North East, and back.
Space and comfort were never an issue but the rear passengers thought the rear tyre noise was a little excessive - something that never seemed an issue to those in front.
Ride comfort however was superb, the long-legged loping ride of the Falcon took everything from broken tarmac to rutted gravel in its stride.
Passengers and driver alike agreed that the Falcon is made for long-distance touring.
There’s enough width to stack three adults across the rear bench, the air-con was able to combat the torment of an Aussie summer, and seat comfort and outward visibility all contributed to arriving feeling fresh.
Pitch it at a bend and the mid-weight steering feels lively.
The suspension tune of the previous FG MkII G6E has now been used for all four-cylinder models, and it strikes a great balance between comfort at handling.
There’s been plenty of time spent making sure that mid-corner composure isn’t upset by rutted pavement or gravel.
Grip levels are high, and the communicative rear-end telegraphs plenty of info to the driver before reaching the limits of adhesion.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.61 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: ABS, EBD, traction control (switchable), stability control (switchable). Dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags are standard.
Front seat belts feature pretensioners and height adjustment. Ford’s Sync system also includes Emergency Assistance, which will contact emergency services via a paired Bluetooth mobile in the event of an accident.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Ford holds the honour of building the only four-cylinder large car in Australia. Commodore is, and always has been the Falcon’s primary rival, but you’d have to go for a V6, same too the Toyota Aurion and Chrysler 300.
New to these shores, the turbo charged (but mid-size) Sonata and even Ford’s own Mondeo also give the Falcon a run for its money.
- Holden Calais
- Toyota Aurion Prodigy
- Chrysler 300 Limited
- Hyundai Sonata Premium
- Ford Mondeo (arriving Q2 2015)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Is the Falcon EcoBoost a good car? Yes, dollar-for-dollar, most certainly. But is it a great one? Sadly, no.
While the powertrain, big car comfort and feature-packed SYNC2 system are excellent, the interior design, materials quality and technology are now looking dated.
For the Commodore’s last hurrah, Holden packed the VF with features like self parking, push button start and collision detection.
The FG X, by contrast, misses out on things buyers will now consider natural inclusions. Ford couldn’t even bring illumination to the steering wheel controls.
But, perhaps there’s always space for ‘simpler motoring’. There will certainly be buyers who will appreciate the big-car on-road comfort and relaxed ride, whatever road you throw at it.
The G6E EcoBoost is that car. It pairs a rewarding engine and transmission with a roomy interior and big boot, but doesn’t get carried away with the fussy details.
It deserves greater popularity than it will receive, and while that stirs some misty-eyed sadness in the hearts of Aussies everywhere, this final update has left us with a worthy Falcon.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
2015 Ford FG X Falcon Sedan
- Falcon 4.0L Petrol, 4.0L EcoLPi or 2.0L EcoBoost (auto) - $35,900
- Falcon XR6 4.0L Petrol (manual) - $35,590
- Falcon XR6 4.0L Petrol (auto) - $37,790
- Falcon XR6 Turbo 4.0L Petrol (manual) - $42,990
- Falcon XR6 Turbo 4.0L Petrol (auto) - $45,190
- Falcon G6E 4.0L Petrol or 2.0L EcoBoost (auto) - $40,110
- Falcon G6E Turbo 4.0L Petrol (auto) - $46,550
- Falcon XR8 5.0L Petrol (manual) - $52,490
- Falcon XR8 5.0L Petrol (auto) - $54,690
Note: EcoBoost four-cylinder engine is a no-cost option on Falcon and Falcon G6E
Options - Falcon XR8
- Prestige Paint - $385
- Matching Alloy Spare - standard
- Leather Seat Trim - standard
- Tow Pack (1600kg rated) - $550