The field of battle is set. There will be biffo on the hill at Bathurst, and in pubs and football clubrooms. Barbs will be thrown, “Looks like a BF, mate!"... and hurled back, “Listen mate, all Holdens are shyte.”
And it'll be on.
This year, with the release of the FG Series, with its 'evolved' understated lines and massive improvements to driving dynamics and refinement, Ford has added reason for some new bruising in the old 'Ford versus Holden' argument.
There is now real heat in the kitchen.
At TMR, we've been going though the FG range one at a time — it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. And Ford fans can take heart. Having handed the keys of the Falcon G6E Turbo back to Ford Australia, we have many happy things to report.
With 270 kilowatts and 533 Nm of torque under the toe, it is one thumping drive.
For its 'Jeckyll and Hyde' combination of bristling power, silky driving dynamics, interior refinement and value, the G6E sets a new high-water mark for the large, affordable, sporting saloon. Is it a luxury express, a premium family car, or a sledgehammer?
The fact is, it's all of the above. And that's its brilliance.
It is, at $54,990, a tour de force; dollar for dollar and kilowatt for kilowatt in its price segment, it's the clear value leader. Make no mistake, if it had a German badge on it, it could be twice the price and no-one would bat an eyelid.
With the G6E, Ford has bridged the magic gap: that gap between refined European driving dynamics, and the no-nonsense bullet-proof 'grunt' of the big Aussie family saloon.
Australians can be proud of this car, just as we can take pride every time an SS Commodore rolls from showrooms in the US as a Pontiac G8.
If the future of the Falcon brand is riding on the G6E Turbo and others in the FG Falcon range, Ford Australia could not be accused of holding onto its ace. No, it's there on the table.
Of course, whether the motoring public recognise the fact, and whether Australia's pious and notoriously subjective motoring writers can also recognise it, will be the test for Ford Australia.
With declining sales in the large car segment, the FG is an important model for Ford and—without putting too fine a point on it—an important car for Australia's automotive manufacturing future.
You have to wonder why it is that when our local manufacturers—all three—are designing and engineering products of such value, so many buyers will choose instead to buy imported automotive porridge. But they do, and there we have it.
So, let's get behind the wheel of the G6E Turbo. The first thing you notice is the increase in shoulder room and the airy European feel of the interior. The leather-bound bolstered seats, piano-black console facia, multi-function dash display, reversing camera, Bluetooth connection, gloss carbon fibre and brushed alloy highlights all flag the G6E as a premium product. Fit and finish is flawless to The Insider's eyes.
Once settled, you'll notice the B-pillars have been pumped out to sit more squarely with the platform than they did in the BF model the FG replaces (most obvious if you take a look from behind). The screen rakes further forward. There's more roof (putting more 'air' between your forehead and the glass) and the interior mirror is set higher, out of the line of forward vision. The centre console sweeps down to sit low over the transmission tunnel, opening up the space across the cabin, and the dash similarly curves away and down, giving class-leading knee and leg-room.
Access to the rear is improved: The rear doors, with the trailing edge extended to follow the sweep of the roofline into the C-pillar, provide a noticeably wider opening.
It is as if Ford looked at every shortcoming of the BF and set about to rectify it. Any which way you care to look at it, behind the wheel of the G6E Turbo is a very nice place to be.
Bring the I6 Turbo engine to life, point the G6E out the drive, and the exuberant power under the right foot, the straining at the leash, is impossible to ignore.
Also impossible to ignore are the signals from the underpinnings, Ford's advanced double-wishbone front end (Ford calls it Virtual Pivot Control Link) and Control Blade independent rear. There's an elastic tautness—and an interconnectedness – felt through the wheel and through the seat.
Ours came with optional 19-inch alloys and 245/35 ZR19 tyres. The bigger wheels and fat rubber load a little weight into the steering when parking or getting underway and, at slower speeds, some 'tram-tracking' was evident. Once you start asking some serious questions however, the quality of the underpinnings come into their own.
We put the G6E Turbo through its paces over nearly a thousand kilometres of primary, secondary and gravel roads. The longer you spend at the wheel, the more convincing the G6E Turbo case becomes.
Turn-in at speed—a strong point of Falcons since the AU—is class-leading. And despite its weight and size—this is a big car—understeer is all but absent. You can hurl this thing into corners and belt it out with confidence—best done with the traction control left on if its quick times you're looking for; best switched fervently off if you enjoy driving using the rear end and the free-spinning power underfoot.
On our favourite mountain passes (in Victoria's North East), the big G6E was nimble, swift and predictable, with the right combination of power and handling to really be enjoyed (Sometimes, on these kinds of drives, you become convinced that only the 'horizontal sports' can be more fun).
The chassis dynamics are a testament to Ford Australia's design and engineering capabilities. Little surprise then that it's an important arm of Ford's global design operations.
Few large cars are as swift, with such control and balance, as the G6E Turbo. And there's no need to paddle the six-speed ZF automatic to extract something extra when on the nail—left to its own devices it performs flawlessly: change up and kickdown is as good as instantaneous.
Let's now spend a moment with that wonderful in-line six; the hammer behind the velvet. This engine, sadly destined for Ford's scrap heap when replaced by a V6 sometime after 2010, is a monster.
Peak power is a numbing 270 kilowatts @ 5250rpm, while torque of 533Nm is available from 2000rpm - 4750rpm. Twisting force of that magnitude can shred tyres in a trice.
Put the hammer in, hold it, and that force-fed in-line six can launch the not inconsiderable 1704 kilogram bulk of the G6E from 0-100kph in a shade over five seconds (Some performance testing has claimed acceleration times as low as 5.1 seconds).
Even with traction control, the rear will squirrel about under the load of all those Newton metres belting through the back-end.
It is huge fun. But more fun is balancing the power off the line and feeding it in progressively with the whistle of the turbo singing above the rising howl of the engine. Doing this, it feels like riding a rapidly gathering irresistible wave—or flying. FPV's recently announced F6 features a 310kW version of this engine. Saints be praised, it doesn't bear thinking about.
The I6 is truly a sensational donk: beautifully balanced, it will rev its head off right to the cut-out, without sounding breathless or as if it's tripping over itself. It's a shame we're going to lose it.
It is also remarkably efficient. Claimed consumption average is a commendable 11.7 l/100k. Of course, if you stretch the turbo performance, that figure will suffer (but remain better than any performance V8 on the market). Under normal driving however, it is easy to achieve better than the claimed figures: closer to 10 l/100k is achievable.
Finally, a word about price. At $54,990 the G6E Turbo is a full $11,000 cheaper than the recently announced new Liberty GT Sti (at $65,990, with 194kW and 350Nm). The XR6 Turbo, at $45,490, is $21,000 to the good of the Liberty GT STI. No prizes for guessing which I would be queuing for.
Consider then the BMW M3, offering 309kW and capable of the 0-100kph dash in 4.8 seconds. While one carries the prestige of an icon nameplate, put them side by side on the race-track and there will be little between them. There's some food for thought in the $100,000-plus price differential.
So, that’s the G6E Turbo. You can pick it by the rear lip spoiler and the deep ‘cat-fish’ grille particular to the G-series. While perhaps not as arresting as the superbly penned, dynamic lines of the Holden VE series, Ford’s G6E is a handsome machine from any angle.
We can only hope that the nonsense occurring in the petrol market does not inflict further damage on the large car segment and catch Ford's new FG lineup in the wreckage.
This car, the G6E Turbo, is the duck's guts.
- The Insider
- Superb, beautifully balanced engine
- Mountainous kilowatts and torque
- Dynamic handling and advanced suspension
- Stylish interior
- Frugal fuel consumption (for such a big, powerful car)
- Handing the keys back
- No manual option on the G6E Turbo
- 'Evolved' styling may not set the X and G Series enough apart from the BF
The Insider's big statement:
“The G6E Turbo could be the best car we've ever produced in this country. If you want or need a large strong car, you'd be nuts to choose a 4WD SUV 'brick on wheels' over any of the G or X Series Falcon range: more comfortable, faster, more stylish, more fun to drive, and more economical at the pump.”
Model: G6E Turbo
Type and capacity: I6 Direct injection variable camshaft timing (DI-VCT) 3984cc
Valve system: 24 valve DOHC
Maximum power: 270kW @ 5250 rpm
Maximum torque: 533Nm @ 2000rpm - 4750rpm
Fuel System: Sequential multi-point electronic fuel injection
Turbo boost pressure: 0.7 bar (maximum)
Bore x stroke: 92.26 x 99.31mm
Compression ratio: 8.8:1
0–100 km/h: 5.1 seconds (reported, not confirmed)
Transmission: ZF Six-speed automatic with sequential sports shift
Steering: Forward-mounted power assisted rack and pinion (variable ratio)
Wheels and Tyres: Standard: 18X8 seven-spoke alloys: 245/40 R18 tyres Option: 19X8 ten-spoke alloys: 245/35 R19 tyres
Brakes: Front: Vented discs with twin piston caliper Rear: Solid discs with single piston caliper
Consumption: 11.7 l/100km (combined)
Fuel tank volume: 68 litres
Price (G6E Turbo): $54,990+ORC