Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ford Falcon G6E Turbo Review



Fans of traditional Aussie muscle may still be missing the V8 engine that once nestled proudly under the bonnet of the Ford Falcon, but we doubt they’d be grumbling about the performance of the six-cylinder Ford Falcon G6E Turbo.
Armed with a 4.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 270kW of power and 533Nm of torque, the range-topping Ford Falcon G6E Turbo remains the sub-$60,000 benchmark for straight-line speed.
Punch the throttle from a standing start and it’ll reach 100km/h in a claimed 5.1 seconds. It certainly feels every bit that fast on the road. It is blisteringly quick.
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There’s a faint turbo whistle once the rev counter nudges 2000rpm and turbo lag is non-existant.
With 80 per cent of peak torque available from as low as 1250rpm through to 5750rpm, you don’t necessarily have to work the Falcon G6E Turbo hard, either.
In fact, it’s suitably quicker than its V8-powered Holden Commodore SSV counterpart, which produces 270kW/530Nm in manual guise and needs 5.6 seconds to complete the same run to 100km/h. That said, figures for the lighter VF Commodore are yet to be released.
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The Falcon is also quicker off the mark than the recently introduced high-performance Opel OPC Insignia and top-of-the-range Volkswagen Passat V6 FSI 4Motion – which need 6.3 and 5.5 seconds, respectively.
It’s a pity then that the $56,250 G6E Turbo’s engine note still sounds like that of a common Ford Falcon taxi, but if you can get over that initial disappointment then you’re likely to enjoy its huge mid-range response that makes for especially safe overtaking on the open road.
The ZF six-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth and refined shifts that are relatively swift, despite missing some of the crispness offered by dual-clutch transmissions.
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There is, however, a useful Sport mode that allows for shift points further up the rev range, along with proper sequential shifting (forward for downshifts and back for upshifts). But what this vehicle really needs is paddleshifters paired with throttle-blipping, as found in some BMW and Jaguar models that also use ZF automatics.
Fulfilling the dual role of being the quickest and most luxurious car in the Ford Falcon family, the G6E comes standard with a relatively soft suspension setting, providing a mostly supple ride over almost all surfaces.
The only time ride quality falters is on fractured roads and decent size potholes where the car can feel unsettled and the vibrations are felt through the cabin.
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There are no such issues with the locally-developed Bishop Y-shaped steering rack, providing solid weighting and feel from the dead centre – and with just 2.6 turns lock-to-lock, steering response is also sharp.
Riding on standard fit 19-inch alloys shod with low-profile 245/35 series Dunlop performance rubber, grip levels are understandably high although enthusiastic cornering work can expose deficiencies in the chassis.
With the softer-style suspension there’s simply too much roll on turn-in and the car doesn’t feel quite as planted as some admittedly more expensive (or lesser powered) European rivals.
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Fuel consumption for the Falcon G6E Turbo is rated at 11.7L/100km, but that would be with strictly light throttle applications. Real world figures during our week long test period averaged 14.9L/100km.
We also struggled with the flagship Falcon’s general ergonomics, beginning with the driver’s seat positioning, which is simply too elevated to feel like you’re ever at one with this car.
To make matters worse, the maximum steering wheel adjustment is set too low, which only compounds the problem, even for this short-ish (176cm tall) reviewer.
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One concession is the leather-clad bucket seats, which are nicely cushioned and superbly comfortable for long drives.
With stacks of rear legroom fore and aft, passenger comfort in the Falcon G6E Turbo is also commendable.
There’s also a huge boot capable of swallowing several sets of golf clubs or multiple large suitcases – unlike the Commodore, the Falcon offers 60:40 split fold capability.
Unfortunately, the cabin design itself feels its five-year vintage.
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The cabin plastics are mismatched and brittle in some areas, and the steering wheel mounted buttons don’t illuminate at night – they feel out of place in a semi-prestige vehicle at this price point.
The G6E Turbo does come loaded with enough luxury kit to help boost the overall feel of the interior, including an eight-inch touch screen (though this is low-resolution and annoyingly affected by glare) with satellite navigation and SUNA traffic reporting; rear-view camera with rear parking sensors; electrically-adjustable driver’s seat; dual-zone climate control; and a decent eight-speaker audio system with Bluetooth phone with voice-control and audio streaming.


But the G6E Turbo also lacks the technology found in newer Ford models like the Focus and Kuga Titanium, including the company’s Sync entertainment system with voice control for audio streaming, auto-park technology and keyless automatic entry.
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Styling wise, there’s not a lot to distinguish this top-shelf turbo Falcon over its $46,735 non-turbo G6E sibling.
Both model variants get the same distinctive dual mesh grille with chunky chrome framing (perhaps a tad too much) along and LED daytime running lights.
The various additional ‘turbo’ badges across the body, larger 19-inch alloy wheels, and a rear boot-lip are other G6E Turbo distinguishers.
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The FG Falcon previously set the benchmark as the first Australian-built car to receive the maximum five-star safety rating from the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
Safety features include six airbags, stability control with traction control and anti-locking brakes with emergency brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution.
Again, however, there’s no sign of newer technology such as a collision alert system, lane-departure warning or auto-braking technology, some of which is found in newer rivals.
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With an overhauled Ford Falcon range not due until next year, the FG Mark II will soon face newer competition like the Holden VF Commodore. But for a five-year-old model, it has held up astoundingly well.
In isolation, and rated on its own merits, the Ford Falcon G6E Turbo is a stellar value for money package, an ultra-quick executive powerhouse that has a few rough edges but none that are ultimately inhibiting.
A full-body massage is all that it needs, but that’ll have to wait until late 2014.
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