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Road Test

Ford Falcon XR6

by Stephen Walker

13th August, 2008

Ford Falcon XR6 - FG series 

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Just as sales of big cars seem to be slowing, Ford demonstrates that the big car is still capable of providing a mighty fine driving experience. The new FG series impresses, immediately, with the traditional strengths of a large Australian car ..... roomy interior, easy handling, good looks, neat packaging and reasonable economy. But that just isn't enough for Ford Australia. This new FG model features improved safety aspects which lifts the safety threshold to a new level. Only last week, Ford Australia was praised for improvements to the Falcon's safety level.

Now with five stars for safety, the FG Falcon has recorded the highest mark of any locally manufactured car in the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP). As the announcement was being made last week, we, coincidently, were driving the new FG series in XR6 guise. Our test car, a manual version, of a car highly prized by families in both new car showrooms and on used car lots, looks so good in its optional shade of blue, known as "Nitro" in Ford terms.

Prices begin at $39,990 (RRP) for the Ford Falcon XR6. Prestige paint is a $400 option (such as the attractive colour on the test car). Although the test car featured a six speed manual transmission, a five speed auto is a no cost option. A six speed auto is available at $1,500. Numerous other options are available to enhance the XR6 still further. There are numerous luxury and wheel/tyre options. One interesting option fitted to the test car was a reverse sensor system ($500) and a reverse camera ($500). These work well and add novelty value to the car. At $1,000 though, many will choose the old fashioned method. The camera is good. But it offers no guidance system (such as on offer elsewhere) and, for some inexplicable reason, when the vision comes on the audio is 'muted'. There is, obviously, a good reason for this, but I don't know what it is!

Ford Falcon XR6 - FG series 

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The six cylinder engine is a 4 litre double overhead camshaft unit, providing 195 kW of power @ 6,000 rpm and 391 Nm of torque @ 3,250 rpm. This is not overly powerful, but it is certainly provides comfortable performance and that was proven during our time behind the wheel.

On the road, the new Falcon XR6 impresses the driver with the traditional big car feel and the very user-friendly mannerisms associated with this popular model which goes back longer than many will care to remember. The front-end continues its steady improvements, just as it has in recent models (BF and BF11 for example). Steering and front suspension has not always been a strong point with Falcons, but it is now.

We managed to complete some 951 satisfying kilometres around Melbourne and Echuca in the XR6. The ride was always comfortable and the handling in everyday driving situations was just right.

Inside, the new Falcon impresses the occupants with a nicely presented interior which is roomy and comfortable. The seating feels nice and looks especially good in the XR6. In the 'Nitro' test car, the interior trim colour was 'Streetwise Blue/Attitude Shadow', a very nice duo-tone presentation. The inevitable plastic components of today's cars look good in the new Falcon's interior, unlike the FG's major competitor. Over the years, a countless number of readers have consulted with Next Car about the acquisition of their 'next car'. Yet not one has ever asked us to recommend a car with cheap looking interior plastic. Hence, I was pleased to experience the new FG. The interior lighting is very good and this is a bonus when you consider that some new cars are now featuring very poor interior lighting.

Standard equipment on the new Ford Falcon XR6 includes four airbags, lumbar support on both front seats, sports leather wrapped steering wheel, trip computer (includes distance to empty, average speed, average fuel consumption, speed warning), cruise control, 17" alloy wheels (4) and a temporary spare wheel amongst other features.

Ford Falcon XR6 - FG series 

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What about criticism? You do need to be picky to find fault with this new FG model Falcon. The muting of the audio when reverse gear is selected is inconvenient (especially if Robson and Jerome are singing "I Believe" at the time), but it is not a fault. But my favourite criticism of any Falcon, is the lack of a driver's left footrest. But after covering nearly 1,000 kms I must admit that I didn't miss the footrest at all. Finally, I'm over it! On that basis, Ford's new FG series makes quite an impression, especially in the attractive XR6 model.

Driving a car such as a Ford Falcon XR6 is quite normal for an aussie. The new FG series will continue to endear the Falcon to the Australian psyche. The improved safety aspects, the refined quality and the impressive interior will continue to drive buyers towards the locally made Falcon. Sure, these large cars are not for everyone, but for those who either enjoy or need a large car, the Ford Falcon FG series demonstrate clear improvements have been made to one of the most popular cars in the nation. No-one can complain about that!

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