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  • Drivetrain punch, refinement and economy; excellent steering, ride and handling; roomy cabin; value
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8 / 10



2013 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost Review
2013 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost Review
2013 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost Review
by Daniel DeGasperi

With the Ford Falcon having posted its lowest-ever sales result in 2012, and falling out of the top 20 sales charts by one spot, the new year is a good time to pause, reflect, and ponder again if Australians really are missing out on a good thing.

The four-cylinder turbo Ford Falcon EcoBoost, specifically, has been on sale for almost a full year, yet it has failed to provide the necessary boost to get Falcon flying out of showrooms.

For whatever reason, it’s not for want of ability – let’s quit the suspense, the car is brilliant.

The entry-level Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost retails for $37,325, the same figure as the thirstier, torquier, traditional six-cylinder model. But nobody ever pays full retail for the big sedan from Broadmeadows, and we’ve seen Falcon XT EcoBoost variants with dealer-year stickers reading less than $30K driveaway.

What you’re getting for that price is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder producing 179kW at a low-ish 5500rpm, and 353Nm at a very low 2500rpm. Forget the cylinder count, because the 3.0-litre non-turbo V6 in the Holden Commodore Omega needs 2900rpm showing on the tachometer to deliver just 290Nm. The Holden engine must also push a heavier car – although that will be rectified with the lighter VF generation overhaul in a few months.

Ford hasn’t just dropped two cylinders, however. Adding extra sound-deadening on the firewall means that the turbo-four doesn’t sound weedy and thrashy; it’s quieter than a Commodore V6 or Falcon 4.0-litre six-cylinder, revs harder and sounds nicer than either of them, yet slurps less juice – just to cement its dominance.

2013 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost Review
2013 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost Review
2013 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost Review

While the economy claim for the Ford Falcon EcoBoost is 8.5L/100km combined, compared with 9.9L/100km for the six-cylinder and 8.9L/100km for the Commodore Omega, we saw 10L/100km on test in mixed conditions. Not bad for a car that powers to 100km/h in less than seven seconds, around half a second quicker than Falcon with its heavy six-cylinder, and a full tick of the timepiece before the torque-deprived Holden V6.

But a smaller engine also makes for a lighter engine, and less weight on the Falcon’s nose means the EcoBoost is the best-handling model to ever wear the badge – and that includes the under-damped and heavy FPV models.

The Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost turns into corners with verve, and can really be pushed along on the throttle until the humble GoodYear 16-inch rubber starts to howl. Its steering precision and chassis dynamics are outstanding. There’s no need to plaster an Australian flag tattoo on your arm to say that this Falcon’s dynamics are truly world class, equal or better than the similarly-sized BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, both of which also get turbo fours up front in base form.

Badge snobs will scoff, no doubt, and it’s unfortunate that the clothes the Falcon wears inside and out are more Hard Yakka than Hermes. Even for sub-$30K, the cabin quality is below average, with hard, brittle and often ill-fitting plastics almost everywhere the eye falls.

On the upside, the way the buttons on the centre stack operate – especially with the optional colour touchscreen – is ergonomic perfection. There are a few things that grate, however – the lack of rear headrests, non-illuminated steering wheel buttons, and trip computer buttons obscured by a steering wheel that also doesn’t go high enough for tall drivers.

In terms of wind and road noise, the Falcon XT EcoBoost is far from class leading, a prize which the new Toyota Camry and Aurion own. Refinement is also an area which Holden promises to address with the forthcoming VF Commodore.

But in every other way, from seat comfort (superb), to cabin room (better than any compact SUV), to air conditioning performance (far superior to the Honda CR-V and Peugeot 208 recently tested), and even right down to the inclusion of rear seat air vents – the Volkswagen Tiguan and Renault Koleos are, astonishingly, only two of a dozen compact SUVs that include rear coolers – the Falcon is unbeatable.

Likewise with ride comfort. The Falcon’s standard dampers and sensibly chubby (and cheap to replace) rubber are a reminder of how needlessly complicated ‘premium’ cars have become. The XT EcoBoost rides brilliantly, soothing around town, erasing country road lumps, and only becoming bouncy when pushing hard on undulating roads.

The image problem with the Ford Falcon is down to its association with taxis, its dreadful resale – roughly 35-40 per cent retained after three years, a reflection of how cheap fleet buyers get the car – while the thought of a four-cylinder powering a large car may have troubled some. The FG series is now almost five years old, and feels it with its interior design. Yet it also has at least another 12 to 18 months to serve before a mid-life upgrade, and will also cop a wedge from the undoubtedly much-improved VF Commodore in a few months.

It’s a perfect storm to continue tearing up the Ford Falcon’s once proud popularity, and placing its future in jeopardy. But the fact is the current generation Falcon XT EcoBoost is fast, frugal, roomy, comfortable, with a winning trifecta of superb steering, ride and handling. It’s simply better than any compact SUV and almost every mid-sized sedan.

There’s really no need for blind parochialism to clearly see that.


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FORD FALCON BREAKDOWN

2013 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost Review
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Ford Falcon Specs

XT : FG MK2 : 4.0L MULTI POINT F/INJ - 6 SP AUTO SEQ SPORTSHIFT - UNLEADED PETROL - 4D SEDAN
Car Details
Make
FORD
Model
FALCON
Variant
XT
Series
FG MK2
Year
2013
Body Type
4D SEDAN
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$11,770 - $13,380
Dealer Retail
$13,230 - $15,730
Dealer Trade
$9,400 - $10,700
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
MULTI POINT F/INJ
Engine Size
4.0L
Cylinders
INLINE 6
Max. Torque
391Nm @  3250rpm
Max. Power
195kW @  6000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
114.4W/kg
Bore & Stroke
92.25x99.31mm
Compression Ratio
10.3
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
6 SP AUTO SEQ SPORTSHIFT
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
2.73
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
68Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
9.9L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1704
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1453mm
Length
4955mm
Width
1869mm
Ground Clearance
150mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:2300  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
11
Front Rim Size
6.5x16
Rear Rim Size
6.5x16
Front Tyres
215/60 R16
Rear Tyres
215/60 R16
Wheel Base
2838
Front Track
1583
Rear Track
1598
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC
Front Suspension
Control Link, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Control Link, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Comfort
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control, Power front seat Driver
Control & Handling
16 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System
Driver
Cruise Control, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Parking Distance Control, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Entertainment
Radio CD with 4 Speakers
Exterior
Power Mirrors
Interior
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Safety
Dual Front Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Security
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Exterior
Metallic Paint, Tow Pack
Other
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Pass Side Eng Scuttle
Country of Origin
Australia