I sat down to write of my week in the Falcon G6E Turbo and found myself faced with a dilemma, because although I enjoyed the experience I couldn’t help but compare it with what else is about the place. I found the task getting more difficult the longer it went on.
Let me explain:
From the outside, the big Ford looks the business. But, and there is usually a “but”, it looks too much like the doomed AU Falcon of 1998. The “edge” styling was unloved by punters and lingered in showrooms countrywide. Ford intended to wash away the last of it when the current model was released, but the body didn’t look different enough. Buyers had begun the “Great Walk Away from big cars” of the late naughties and the bleed continues.
Let’s forget for a minute the fact that there is more than a passing resemblance to the AU, the body is actually quite attractive. The fat tyres sit on wide 19” rims and there is glitz and glamour courtesy of chrome and fully riced headlights. A few more LEDs sprinkled here and there wouldn’t have hurt though.
The Falcon costs about $56,000, has a turbo straight six developing a respectable 270kw/533Nm. That’s impressive but what really gets a bit of blood pumping is sticking the stiletto to the floor and getting to 100KPH in a paltry 5.1 seconds. Come on people, a clap if you please? That would have been unheard of even a decade ago in a car that often has a TAXI sign glued to its roof. Contemplate this for a moment, V8’s 10 years ago hardly got 200kw wrung out of them but the Falcon does much more with two less cylinders. It is quick, and feels it. It even out sprints the VE V8 Commodore (we haven’t driven any of the new Commodores yet) which is no mean feat.
There is a sexy turbo whine at a certain speed especially when u back off, but what isn’t so sexy is the exhaust note of a taxi. In fact it sounds like a 20 year old taxi which rather disturbing at times. The Auto is a 6speed ZF but even a humble VW Golf has 7 speeds (albeit in a DSG box). None the less it shifts smoothly without the fear that one of the double-clutches gearbox won’t engage. You’ll remember our recent experience where a DSG failed twice in the one test drive and required restarting, gear lever moving, and huge hugs to make it move. Not at all satisfactory. It’s a shame there are no paddles on the Falcon as iut makes shifting-em yourself a bit easier. Paddles have become somewhat ubiquitous and are available elsewhere on ZF’s.
The ride is smooth but firm because the top model has sporting aspirations. It copes, mostly, except for the less well maintained goat tracks Australia passes off as roads. The ride is smooth and compliant and it corners extremely well, but hit a pot hole at the wrong time and there will be some undignified sideways shinnying. However, you never feel as though she will let go because the electronic nannies sort out the more wayward behaviours. I didn’t get a chance to experience wet roads but I suspect she might be a bit messy if pushed in the damp, but then that’s half the fun.
The steering feels a bit heavy for my tastes but it has the added bonus of being more inclined to let you know what the front wheels are doing. This is the nature of hydraulic steering. You have to be aware that the G6E replaced the Fairmont/Futura and since Ford has no limo, also serves as the luxury model. As such the suspension does let the body roll more than you might think especially in the more spirited of corners, handling isn’t quite as sporty as it could be. Having said that, she doesn’t let go. You would need to push her much harder than we did to get her sideways, but I find making a large sedan do untidy things tends to attract unwanted attention from men in large cars with big blues lights on them. You should avoid this is you want to retain your driving lincense.
I’m usually fairly suspicious of fuel figure claims and although considerably better than any V8’s, the 11.7 l/100k seems a little optimistic.
The interior is well laid out if a little old fashioned. I was reminded of an old Crown Victoria in looks. The steering wheel buttons and infotainment buttons looking a bit cheap. The plastic varies in colour and quality and for nearly 60k I’d expect more. The steering wheel buttons aren’t backlit so completely useless at night unless you know what they all do. The plastics themselves are not what you might expect now. What is unforgivable was the underside edge of the small bin beneath the audio system. It’s is rough and unfinished from the injection moulding process. Every time I put something in the tray under it, it bit my hand and drew blood. Surely someone could have taken a nail file to it.
The bin right under the audio unit has an unfinished underside. The tray behind the gear shifter forces you to scrape your hand on the burred under-edge above each time you use it.
The steering wheel buttons look cheap and are not backlit.
Looks aside, the seating is comfy but I’m 183cms and I couldn’t get the seat right. It’s too high and the wheel doesn’t go up and out far enough. I suspect this is to give more space behind the driver in an attempt to garner favour with Silver Service taxi drivers, but it’s a step too far in my opinion.
What’s astounding is the radar cruise control, automatic parking, City Safe Braking, lane departure warning, BLISS, Keyless start and SYNC. They are not in the Falcon! However, they can be found in the Focus and Mondeo both of which feel more modern. There is an update due next year but will have to be something special to compete with Holden’s flash new VF Commodore which parks itself.
Although Falcon is a handsome car, it’s going on for 6 years old now and looks and feels a bit dated. It goes well but the cornering could use fancy tech to make it a better experience. The teaser shots of the upcoming MKII look fabulous so perhaps some of the shortcomings will be sorted as well in looks, feel and tech.
At the end of the day the Falcon can’t compete against the VF Commodore. They are from two different eras. Don’t get me wrong, I like the G6E Turbo very much and for straight-line performance it is hard to match, but as an overall package there is better out there. I would gladly drive it again but wouldn’t buy it with my own money.