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Road_Warrior
7th July 2012, 10:46 AM
I don't know how this one got past the editor - it's too positive!

http://news.drive.com.au/drive/new-car-reviews/road-test-review-ford-falcon-xt-ecoboost-20120706-21kle.html



Road test review: Ford Falcon XT Ecoboost

Date
July 7, 2012

Cameron McGavin

There's a surprising new member of the Falcon family.

Our rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Emissions
192g/km

Pros

Willing performance
Thriftier than six-cylinder version and even better to drive
Loads of space and comfort

Cons

High driving position
Boring cabin
Space-saver spare
Needs premium unleaded to make maximum power

It's been a long time since an Australian car maker dared to put a four-cylinder engine in a big sedan. You can probably blame Holden's Commodore of the early 1980s for that. Its four-cylinder engine managed the dubious distinction of being both slower and thirstier than six-cylinder models.

But fashions have a way of coming around, and Ford - spurred on by dwindling interest in its staple six-cylinder sedan and a worldwide trend towards engine downsizing - has brought the large four-cylinder sedan back with its new Falcon EcoBoost.
Price and equipment

Ford is doing all it can to get buyers to embrace a four-cylinder engine (a development of the one used in the Mondeo), offering it for the same price as the regular 4.0-litre six-cylinder in XT, G6 and G6E models. Oddly, there's no sporty-looking version, even though the XR6 is these days the most popular Falcon.

In the case of the base/cheapest variant XT tested here, that translates to a starting price of $37,325 before on-road costs, but discounts are rife with the Falcon, so shop around.

The XT isn't particularly upmarket inside with its cloth trim and dowdy plastic steering wheel. However, all the essentials are there: Bluetooth phone/audio streaming, power driver's seat, climate control, cruise control, trip computer and a CD/MP3 sound system with steering wheel-mounted controls.

The XT rates five stars in ANCAP crash tests and its collection of six airbags, stability control and rear parking sensors is on the pace. The only real disappointment is the lack of a reversing camera as standard.

Under the bonnet

The 179kW 2.0-litre EcoBoost turbo helps the XT to an official economy rating of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres. That's a handy reduction from the regular six, even if it won't scare something such as Toyota's ultra-frugal Camry Hybrid. We didn't manage that, logging a 9.1L/100km result over our combined urban/highway loop, but that is still a lot better than the petrol six.

That the EcoBoost is the thriftiest option of the Falcon's petrol engines might not be as surprising to many buyers as how it performs. With a meaty 353Nm of torque at 2000rpm - when running on premium unleaded; expect a slight reduction on the regular stuff - it has almost as much pull as the regular six and comfortably outpaces a base 3.0-litre Commodore.

The solid surge of power available allows the EcoBoost to sprint with the enthusiasm that would have been considered seriously sporty not that long ago. Slow and insipid it isn't.

It's also as responsive, refined and easygoing as you could wish for when the wick is turned down, thanks to the ample low-rev shove, almost total lack of turbo lag and the mandatory six-speed auto's smooth, adept shifts.

How it drives

There's been some rejigging of the Ford's suspension and steering to counter the lighter engine, and it works a treat.

While all Falcons are adroit handlers, the EcoBoost is even better. The steering is more decisive and precise, and you can sense the reduced mass up front with its beautifully keen turn-in and agile, utterly unflappable balance. The soft XT has a tendency to roll more than sportier models but it's a composed and satisfying car to drive.

You'll also need to look a long way to find a car of any price with a ride as supple, quiet and well controlled. Its comfort and composure don't ebb away on rough surfaces, either.

Comfort and practicality

There's absolutely nothing to distinguish the XT EcoBoost here from the six-cylinder version.

The driver's seat is still perched slightly high (though it doesn't affect comfort) and the trip-computer switchgear remains awkwardly sited on the dash behind the steering wheel.

There's nothing special about the ambience, either, despite a user-friendly touchscreen control system, slick design and better-quality plastics than some local sedans.

But the Falcon's many strengths remain. It's roomy and comfortable up front, but the back seat lacks adjustable headrests.

And while the boot floor isn't flat and you have to suffer a temporary spare tyre, it's capable of swallowing plenty of gear and the back seat split-folds for extra versatility.

Competitors
Toyota Hybrid Camry

Price: $34,990

Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cyl/electric motor, 151kW, 270Nm

Fuel use/emissions: 5.2L/100km and 121g/km CO2

Safety: Five-star NCAP rating, 7 airbags, stability control.

Pros: Sharp price, sensational economy, gutsy performance, roomy cabin.

Cons: Not much chop to drive, no splitfold back seat.

Our score: 4/5

Holden Commodore Omega

Price: $39,990

Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cyl, 190kW, 290Nm

Fuel use/emissions: 9.3L/100km and 221g/km CO2

Safety: Five-star ANCAP rating, 6 airbags, stability control.

Pros: Still a great drive, still looks good, great space and comfort.

Cons: Ageing cabin, front blind spot, V6 not a performance or economy leader.

Our score: 3/5

Ford Falcon XT

Price: $37,235

Engine: 4.0-litre 6-cyl, 195kW, 391Nm

Fuel use/emissions: 9.9L/100km and 236g/km CO2

Safety: Five-star ANCAP rating, 6 airbags, stability control.

Pros: Big sixs low-rev shove makes it the pick for towing over XT EcoBoost.

Cons: Its thirstier and less wieldy through the bends.

Our score: 3.5/5

Overall verdict

The Falcon hasn't kicked a lot of goals lately but the EcoBoost could just turn things around. It delivers economy savings that bring the Ford into a different class on a running-costs front, yet its traditional big-car strengths have not been diluted. It's still a big, comfy sedan with ample performance. Another benefit is it's even more satisfying to drive.

If you want serious performance you'll prefer a V8 or turbo six under your Falcon's bonnet, and if you tow the petrol six is still the pick. Otherwise, be brave; tick the box for the EcoBoost. It's just better.

All up, this is pretty damn good. Ford, take note: journos are raving about the Ecoboost. Now you need to start getting buyers raving about them. Tell you what though, with the availability of this car, why would you buy a small buzzbox for commuting?

bouka
7th July 2012, 01:40 PM
Where the fark is the marketing department?

Falc'man
7th July 2012, 03:26 PM
It seems they're working with the media outlets - let the critics sing it's praises.

jpd80
7th July 2012, 04:32 PM
It's funny how the media can switch sides just like that, I recall Drive giving the Ecoboost Falcon a good write up too..

defective
7th July 2012, 04:37 PM
Maybe Holden haven't paid their fees this month...


Id love to take an eBay for a drive sometimes. As much as I love the power of my xr8 cheaper rego and running costs are attractive. Its not like I can use the power very often. Well, not legally.

Falc'man
15th July 2012, 09:52 PM
I had an FG XR6 all of last week and that's got some grunt like you all would know, so for critics to come out and say this gives away next to nothing to the 4.0 has me really wanting to test one out - need to feel it to believe it.

Road_Warrior
17th July 2012, 12:32 PM
I knew it was going to be too good to be true for those arseholes at Drive to heap praise on a Falcon and not expect any comebacks. Well, here it is:

http://news.drive.com.au/drive/motor-news/fourcylinder-falcon-flops-20120717-2272o.html


The four-cylinder engine that was supposed to be the saviour of the Ford Falcon has failed to set sales charts alight – despite being the most fuel-efficient Falcon ever made.

Ford and its employees have bought three times as many four-cylinder Falcons as private buyers in the car’s first three months in showrooms.

The Federal Government – which injected $230 million of taxpayer money to support the development of the four-cylinder Falcon and diesel Territory in 2009 – has bought just two of the “eco” sedans in the past three months.

According to confidential sales figures obtained by Drive, Ford Australia and its employees bought 159 four-cylinder Falcons in April, May and June – compared to 53 to private buyers and 101 fleet buyers for the same period.

Advertisement State Governments accounted for 22 sales while local councils accounted for just 13 deliveries.

A NSW government fleet manager told Drive state government departments weren't ordering the four-cylinder Falcon because it didn’t meet the state’s required environmental performance score for passenger cars.

The four-cylinder version scores a combined “pollution” and “greenhouse” rating of between 12.5 and 13 (out of 20) on the Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide.

But NSW state fleet has a minimum requirement of 13.5 for all but emergency vehicles.

State government fleet departments are allowed to buy vehicles below this score for operational reasons, but if they do they won’t meet their green vehicle targets.

Significantly, the regular six-cylinder versions of the Toyota Aurion and Holden Commodore pass the minimum standard because they have a better “pollution” score than the four-cylinder Falcon.

This is despite the four-cylinder Falcon using less fuel and emitting less carbon dioxide than the Toyota and Holden.

Overall, the four-cylinder model made up 10 per cent of Falcon sedan sales in its first three months in showrooms, or 355 of 3448 deliveries. The LPG Falcon also accounted for a further 10 per cent of sales.

At the media launch of the vehicle, Ford said it hoped the four-cylinder “EcoBoost” model would eventually account for 25 per cent of the Falcon’s tally.

The slow uptake of the four-cylinder variant indicates that fuel economy may not be the primary reason for buyers leaving the large-sedan market. Falcon sales are at their lowest in the 52-year history of the nameplate and the model is now outside the top-20 sellers.

The four-cylinder EcoBoost model is the most fuel-efficient Falcon ever made, yet its acceleration is identical to the six-cylinder (0 to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds).

Only towing capacity is diminished (2300kg for the six-cylinder versus 1600kg for the four-cylinder).

A spokesman for Ford Australia, Neil McDonald, told Drive: “It was always going to be a slow burn. It was always a case of getting the vehicles out there to fleet and private buyers and having them experience the car [and spread the word].”

Ford said it only planned to sell 2000 four-cylinder Falcons this year; if sales continue at the current rate they won’t hit this target.

“If you look at the experience with the Ford F-Series pick-up in North America [which made Ecoboost power available alongside its V8s last year], the take-up was initially very low. But now it represents about 40 per cent [of sales].

“[The large-car market] is a very challenging segment, and we have got to keep addressing it,” says McDonald.

Ford says the controversial cane toad advertisement – used to promote the surprising pace of the four-cylinder Falcon by crushing a cane toad – did not backfire, despite a complaint to the Advertising Standards Board that was dismissed.

“On the contrary the cane toad gave us a kick in social media, the ad has had [380,000] views online,” says McDonald. “[The cane toad ad] is something we hadn’t done before. It was meant to be a fun take. It wasn’t a real cane toad.”

Part of the reason for the four-cylinder Falcon’s slow take-up may be that it is not available in the XR6 styling package – only the plain-looking XT, G6 and G6E fleet models are available with four-cylinder power.

“Whether [a four-cylinder] XR is something buyers would consider is something we would have to look at. But at this stage it’s not on the radar.”

Four-cylinder Falcon sales – April to June 2012
Ford company and employee cars: 159
Private buyers: 53
Business and fleets: 101
Local Government: 13
State Government: 22
Federal Government: 2
Not-for-profit organisations: 7

Falc'man
17th July 2012, 04:42 PM
Significantly, the regular six-cylinder versions of the Toyota Aurion and Holden Commodore pass the minimum standard because they have a better “pollution” score than the four-cylinder Falcon.
And how is that possible?

jpd80
17th July 2012, 08:14 PM
And how is that possible?

Perhaps those vehicles pass Euro 4 by a higher margin where as Ford may have made Ecoboost just pass Euro 4.

Falc'man
19th July 2012, 10:13 PM
Perhaps those vehicles pass Euro 4 by a higher margin where as Ford may have made Ecoboost just pass Euro 4.

Obviously it looks as though there are criteria other than carbon emissions and fuel economy that are factored. What are they and how much of a bearing would they have when the two most significant figures are usually what represent a car's efficiency and economy?

Then, this IS the Ecoboost 2.0, relatively new and as a pump it's far superior in efficiency to the Alloytec.
If it were the 4.0 we're talking about then yeah I would agree but this really has me scratching my head.

jpd80
20th July 2012, 01:35 AM
Obviously it looks as though there are criteria other than carbon emissions and fuel economy that are factored. What are they and how much of a bearing would they have when the two most significant figures are usually what represent a car's efficiency and economy?

Then, this IS the Ecoboost 2.0, relatively new and as a pump it's far superior in efficiency to the Alloytec.
If it were the 4.0 we're talking about then yeah I would agree but this really has me scratching my head.
Ah, those vehicles and engines are getting extra brownie points for being beyond Euro 6
due to US EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 Emission compliance and protocols being applied.
Since Falcons are only Euro 4, they miss out on the extra.
The penalty for not being ahead of the curve...