Ford’s new FG Falcon is a huge step forward for the Blue Oval with improved vehicle dynamics, handling, performance and safety advances, the big question is will the buyers realise this or even care.
After close to 500 kilometres and a major two-day national media drive program in Central Victoria CarAdvice can say that this car is so much better in almost every respect than the already good BF II Falcon.
There’s just one problem, the looks of the car don’t convey the massive level of work that has gone on under the skin.
Sure, when you look at the detail of the design the FG is substantially different to the BF but the drive-by impression leaves you wondering if you are looking at an FG or a BF.
The standout impressions of driving almost every model in the range for me is the balanced handling, the new front suspension and the variable ratio steering, which make this a really sweet car to drive.
It’s balanced in almost every situation, although on rougher roads there is some rack-rattle through the steering, and the suspension of the XT, with its 215/60R16 tyres, does have to work hard to keep the car under control at the limit.
Not so the newest, and most identifiable member of the Falcon fleet the luxury performance G6 range. In basic form the car is really a dressed up XT with more interior luxury a sportier suspension and a ‘Mondeo’ nose that at least makes you realise this is a new Falcon.
The G6 and G6E are nice but the real sleeper is the G6E Turbo, which can only be described as a ‘concealed weapon’. This thing is seriously quick and the 270kW engine fairly hurls the car down the road – until your suddenly hit the factory fitted speed limiter at 200km/h.
Ford’s excuse: ” it’s needed to protect the transmission”.
Well come on guys, the same superb six-speed ZF auto gearbox is used in the XR6 Turbo, which is limited to 230km/h, and its also used in Euro brands that are capable of 250km/h+!
Swap to the similarly powered XR6 Turbo and at least you can hit 230km/h before the limiter steps in, but really these feel like 300km/h cars and we’d just love to have the opportunity to give one a blast down an autobahn.
In the XR range the real treat comes with the XR6 Turbo with the revised six-speed manual gearbox. You’ve just got to try the launch control – we did and it is manic.
Pop the car into 1st gear, floor the throttle and it will lock the revs onto 3500rpm, then dump the clutch and hang one!!
The car just rockets away from standstill and you are instantly grabbing second gear. One word of warning, don’t try it with the traction control turned off, unless you like axle tramp.
The new FG Falcon is more than just the performance models; it is a range of large family sedans that offer excellent levels of refinement, handling that will cope with almost any situation and sharp pricing.
Ford claims this Falcon is the safest car it has ever built and we’d certainly say it has excellent credentials, the final verdict will come when it gets tested by the independent safety authority, ANCAP, and Ford insiders have told CarAdvice that they are quietly confident it will become the first five-star safety rated Australian built car.
Ford President bill Osborne said that he was very confident about the safety rating for the new Falcon and defended the decision to offer only four airbags on most models, with curtain airbags a $300 option on all but the premium models.
The Falcon’s base 4.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine is almost unrecognisable as the power plant from the BF and in cars like the XR6 it revs and barks with a sweet aggression than Holden’s asthmatic V6.
With 195kW, impressive real-driving fuel economy in the order of 9.0L/100km, in part thanks to the all-new French sourced five speed automatic gearbox the FG Falcon is a large car winner.
Interior space, the fit and finish of the trim and the roominess, including much improved rear seat ingress/egress due to a change in the shape of the rear roofline plus much wider opening doors have all served to overcome some of the often-criticised areas of the BF.
Suspension settings across the four options on offer from the base XT to the high performance XR6 Turbo and the one V8 that remains in the range the XR8 all offer levels of grip and handling that is first class.
A number of the cars we drove were on the optional 19 inch rims and even these provided a level of compliance and comfort, while exhibiting prodigious grip.
This is truly a car that can shade Holden’s VE Commodore, in fact I’d be so bold as to say it is definitely a better car, especially when you consider attributes like the standard five-speed automatic and the balanced, refined handling and ride.