With the new FG-X Falcon all but on-sale, James Ward takes one last look at the out-going FG Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo...
It is no secret that the final Australian-made Ford Falcon release is almost upon us, so we thought we would take the opportunity to have one parting look at the outgoing model – the FG Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo – which now, more than ever, represents an incredible performance bargain.
The white Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo you see here is not the youngest kid on the block. Ford launched the FG Falcon range in 2008 and the familiar 4.-litre ‘Barra’ inline six-cylinder engine dates back to 2002.
Even our last review of the car was back in 2011 – a time when Ben Elton still had a TV show and Julia Gillard still had a job.
The interior is where you notice the age the most. It’s functional but not pretty. The ergonomics aren’t ideal either – you sit a bit high and the wheel is a bit low – and it is a generation behind most new cars in still needing a key to start. There is also only one auto-down power window button, reserved for the driver. Small things in isolation but a bit of a statement to the way the FG Falcon has stood still while the rest of the world has moved on.
It is very comfortable inside, though, and you do get an eight-inch touchscreen with full iPod and phone connectivity. There’s climate control, cruise control and lots of storage – pretty much everything you need.
In the back there is simply stacks of room. There's enough space for three adults across and plenty of legroom even for me – and I’m six-foot-three.
Being a proper large sedan, the boot is a whopping 535L (or 505L if you opt for the no-cost-option full-size alloy spare), and the seats fold in 60/40 configuration to accommodate larger or longer loads.
Now we all know that buyers are moving away from large cars. Buyers – particularly in urban areas – who may have once bought a Falcon or Commodore are now opting for smaller cars like the Focus and Cruze. But Australia is still a big place and if you need to cover lots of miles, particularly in regional areas, I for one would prefer to be in something like the Falcon rather than say, a Toyota Yaris.
Given the proximity to the release of the new Falcon model and the fact that it’s not exactly the most ‘in fashion’ car out there, we spoke to a few Ford dealers in Melbourne and discovered that you can be out the door and on the road in a brand new XR6 Turbo for less than $40,000. Not bad for a car that was already considered to be good value at its (before on-road costs) list price of $48,000.
What does that mean? Well, helped along by 533Nm, the force-fed 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder under the bonnet can propel the Falcon XR6 Turbo from 0-100 km/h in about 5.6 seconds. In-gear acceleration is equally impressive as the big Falcon comes on boost at speeds above 80km/h – making overtaking a breeze.
To get that sort of power in a comfy European sedan, and you’re looking at something like an Audi S4, which costs over $100,000. Ok, the Audi is in a different league in terms of finish and equipment, but you get my point.
The ride is comfortable on the freeway, but importantly for Australia, equally comfy on B-roads and even unsealed surfaces.
Long distances, though, are a dream and certainly where the Falcon is most at home. Day in, day out, the Falcon is an effortless cruiser.
Power is available at any speed, and when boost builds, the rush from the turbo is quite addictive. Even, dare I say, fun.
There is still the trademark driveline ‘thump’ if you come off the throttle quickly, but adjust your driving style to suit the Falcon and it’s very smooth. There’s even some factory ‘flutter’ due to the lack of an external turbo blow off valve.
With the XR6 Turbo's closest competitor, the V8-powered Commodore SS, presenting similar size and power (and an arguably better interior), it will still be at least $5-6k more out the door, at least while the FG Falcon is being run-out.
You can also option up the flagship XR6 with a luxury pack that adds leather seats, navigation, dual-zone climate control, 19-inch wheels and premium audio for about $4500 list… but this is another strong negotiation point, particularly if the pack has been fitted to cars in stock.
Yes, the soon-to-be-released FG-X Falcon does look much fresher than the model it replaces, offers great value and includes some cool extra technology, but underneath, they are basically identical.
On merit, the FG Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo is a 7/10 car, but that's assuming you pay rack rate. Given the pricing climate, and going on the assumption that you could do even better than we did with our quick over-the-phone quotes, the FG now represents an 8/10 opportunity.
So if you can go without the new gadgets in the FG-X and don’t mind a bit of a haggle at the dealership, then a run-out FG Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo could very well be yours for significantly less than the new car. And this, to us, represents an exceptional performance bargain.