The last hurrah
Ford has ensured its last-ever update of the Falcon is great value.
As the Australian-built Ford Falcon rolls quietly into its last-ever update, the FG X is arguably the best Falcon ever. Sure, there have been some legendary versions along the way, such as the GTs, but in terms of mainstream models for everyday driving, the FG X is right up there. Across the range it has a touch more refinement and higher-level infotainment technology than the previous model. And there’s been a similar treatment for the final Territory, the SZ Mk II.
Smarter exterior styling gives the FG X an almost Jaguar-like look. Inside, however, this upgrade has been more subtle and some aspects of the cabin show their age. The news is all around infotainment. Ford’s new SYNC2 in-car connectivity system is easy to use, with a host of features accessed via an eight-inch, high-resolution colour touch screen or voice control. It can provide a list of local restaurants when asked or automatically call for emergency assistance via your phone in the event of a serious collision. Digital radio (with dual antennas for better reception), a reversing camera with and front/rear parking sensor are now standard on all Falcons. But with Falcon being phased out, Ford has not invested in the latest safety technology such as autonomous braking, blind spot monitoring or lane departure warning.
The return of a V8 for the reborn XR8 extends a line-up that includes the 4cyl turbo-charged EcoBoost technology, naturally aspirated and turbo-charged 6cyl performance and a sophisticated LPG version. The most significant improvements have been made to the base 6cyl petrol model, with Ford claiming a 9% reduction in fuel consumption – now down to 9.0L/100km.
The lighter, slightly more efficient version of the ZF 6spd automatic in the EcoBoost is now also mated to the naturally aspirated petrol and LPG 6cyl engines; the 6cyl turbo and V8 models retain the heavier-duty ZF 6spd automatic. Likewise, there’s been suspension upgrades to the lower-spec models.
The 4cyl EcoBoost models remain one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. With strong power and torque, the sophisticated 2.0L turbo-charged engine performs like a 6cyl model but with the fuel economy of a four. Its performance always feels strong and responsive around town and it eats up the country kilometres with relaxed ease. Official fuel consumption for the base EcoBoost is 8.0L/100km; it’s 8.7L/100km for the better equipped and slightly heavier G6E. Over a good spread of city, suburban and country driving, our G6E EcoBoost test car averaged 9.3, with a best of 7.9L/100km on a highway run. Where the turbo-four falls a little short is its towing ability; the EcoBoost has a maximum towing capacity of 1600kg, while the 6cyl models can pull up to 2300kg with the heavy-duty tow pack fitted.
The EcoBoost’s lighter engine means less weight over the front wheels, resulting in better steering feel and well-balanced handling. It also has a comfortable, compliant ride, making the G6E EcoBoost an impressive package for a large sedan.
Centimetre for centimetre and kilogram for kilogram, the upgraded Falcon is great value. Sadly, Australian buyers have lost their zest for big sedans, with the vast majority either downsizing or turning to SUVs.
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