I'm not the type of person who holds onto cars for long but when Ford shuttered their Broadmeadows factory in 2016, I decided I couldn't part with my 2009 FG Falcon G6E any time soon. Call me sentimental but I was in no rush to be rid of one of the last in a long and proud line of Aussie Fords, a comfortable and characterful car that’s been a delight to own.
By the time of the FG series, sales of both the Falcon and its direct rival, the Holden Commodore, were on a downward trajectory. Fleet sales did their best to prop up these hometown heroes but the writing was on the wall. With the demise of the VF II Commodore and FG X Falcon (and the Toyota Aurion), the big Aussie six that had dominated the Australian automotive scene for decades was no more.
What killed the Falcon? The post-mortem has been done by many, with crossovers being the commonly cited killer. I'd wager there's another reason the Falcon and Commodore fell from the top of the sales charts: image. I cop some flack from people for owning a "bogan car". Those who don’t perceive my Falcon as such will comment, "Oh, you drive a taxi." Well, mine’s a G6E so at least it’s a Silver Service taxi.
Those fleet purchasers and buyers dismissively referred to as bogans are what kept the Falcon alive in its later years however, as other private buyers shifted to trendier crossovers and increasingly spacious small cars. Those loyal Falcon buyers haven’t exactly flocked to the serially underrated Mondeo, which lives in the shadow of similarly-priced crossovers and the Toyota Camry.
The Falcon has some features the Mondeo simply doesn't have, chiefly rear-wheel drive. With the G6E's “sport luxury” suspension tune, the Falcon possesses a smooth, compliant ride without embarrassing itself when the road starts to bend. A VE or VF Commodore/Calais is a better companion on a twisty road, being more buttoned-down, but the Falcon's inline six is more refined than the Holden's V6. In steering feel, the FG also comes up trumps against a VF Commodore. If you’re carving canyons, the Commodore is a better steer but the Falcon is the superior commuter.
The six-speed ZF automatic transmission shifts smoothly for the most part. Knocking the shifter into “Performance Mode” gives the Falcon sharper shifts, making it feel more responsive. Once in this mode, the shifter can also be pulled back and forward to change gears manually.
My FG has been reliable and I’ve experienced no mechanical issues in two years of ownership. My average fuel economy is 13.4 litres per 100 kilometres in mostly city driving and with a heavy right foot; the 4.0-litre FG was rated at 7.8L/100km on the highway and 14L/100km in the city. The serially under-promoted Falcon EcoBoost achieves 6.4L-12.2L/100km, making it a tantalising proposition for a used buy. With 179kW and 353Nm, it comes close to the inline six’s 195kW and 391Nm. The FG was also available with LPG and turbocharged versions of the 4.0-litre six. Though its fuel economy is worse and the naturally-aspirated six is no slouch, I’d love a G6E Turbo.
The G6E’s interior is inviting, though that’s to be expected for the flagship Falcon. The cushy leather seats are soft and supportive and praised by all who ride in my car, while the matching leather trim on the doors looks classy. In other FG models, the upholstery cheapens the ambience – the XT’s trim feels low-rent, the XR6’s trim is reminiscent of board-short lining, and the G6’s Oxford cloth looks dated. In all FG Falcons, however, there’s decent build quality and plenty of soft-touch plastics. This was a rather nice interior for a family sedan in 2009, even if silver-painted plastic was becoming rather passé and we were entering the era of smudgy piano-black trim. Alas, the FG X revision didn’t include any major interior changes but for the addition of SYNC2, and so the Falcon’s cabin was rather dated by end of production in 2016.
The FG’s eight-inch screen is more "info" than "tainment" but it has a clear display, is mounted in a more visible location than that of a VE Commodore, and has a relatively high-resolution reversing camera. In terms of connectivity, the FG is very much a product of 2009 – there’s Bluetooth for phone calls only, music devices connectable only via an AUX input. That means songs can’t be skipped using the steering wheel controls that, mystifyingly, have no back-lighting.
There are some other flaws with Ford’s penultimate Falcon. The adhesive used for the headliner is rubbish, leaving mine sagging badly after nine years; the cloth door trims of the lesser G6 model also have the same problem. The boot lid is so heavily weighted that it catches passengers off guard and even whacked me on the head once when I parked on a hill. Only the driver's window has an auto-down function and none have auto-up. And, though the rear bench is wide and plush, the centre passenger must straddle a bulky transmission tunnel.
One of the questions the Owner Reviews submission form asks is, "What improvements do you think could be made for future models?" It's a sad reminder that there will be no future Falcons. The Mondeo is a sound replacement in some ways, being more practical and fuel-efficient than the Falcon. And yet it lingers in obscurity, being dramatically outsold by the stalwart Toyota Camry. In a way, the Mustang is a truer successor to the Falcon with its rear-wheel drive layout, optional V8, and slightly rough-around-the-edges personality.
That’s what the Falcon had: personality. It and the VF Commodore feel different to comparably-sized, front-wheel drive vehicles. Both were comfortable, generously-proportioned family sedans with balanced, rear-wheel drive dynamics. The whole car feels like it was designed for Aussie conditions, and if you broke down in Birdsville, the local mechanic would have the part you needed. The unfussed inline six and cushy seats make the Falcon a terrific cruiser for traversing our wide, open spaces. There’s nothing today with quite the same character as this Falcon. You’ll understand why I’m not rushing to sell it.