STEVE COLQUHOUN August 01, 2012
Ford Falcon XT.
We pit the four-cylinder version of the big Ford against the six.
Ford Falcon XT … from $37, 235 plus on-road and dealer costs. 4.0-litre 6-cyl; 195kW/391Nm; 6-sp auto; 9.9L100km and 236g/km CO2; RWD
Ford Falcon XT Ecoboost … from $37, 235 plus on-road and dealer costs. 2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl; 179kW/353Nm; 6-sp auto; 8.1L/100km and 192g/km CO2; RWD
Falcon XT: Well equipped for a locally built base model with standard reversing sensors, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, auto headlights, single-zone climate control and front, side and curtain airbags.
EcoBoost: Identically priced and specified, which means both also get a four-way powered driver’s seat, a trip computer that can be customised to show two chosen fields of information, 16-inch alloy wheels and a temporary spare.
Falcon XT: Big, comfy chairs up front with plenty of adjustability offer a good first impression. Instrumentation and dash layout is neat and clear, although not on the design cutting edge. Visibility is excellent in all directions. No adjustable headrests in the back.
EcoBoost: Again, identical to its big brother, with both sharing a moderately spacious rear seat with seat bases canted up into a semi-reclined position. The boot is cavernous but an indentation in the boot floor makes it difficult to load large objects such as suitcases.
Falcon XT: Ford’s tried-and-true (read: ancient) straight-six takes hills and overtaking in its stride with flexible response and a nice throaty engine note. Punches out an impressive 7.2-second sprint to 100km/h in Drive’s testing.
EcoBoost: New-tech turbo four does a fine job of propelling the Ecoboost’s 1648kg bulk along and hits 100km/h in a handy 7.5 seconds. Peakier power delivery, but always feels up for the job. Four-cylinder soundtrack might disappoint purists and premium unleaded requirted to get the full 179kW/353Nm.
Winner: Falcon XT
Falcon XT: Officially rated at 9.9 litres per 100km for a combined city/highway cycle, and Drive’s testing indicates it’ll get close to matching that over a mix of conditions.
EcoBoost: Superior on paper at an impressive 8.1L/100km, but over the same mix of driving as the six, the smaller engine works harder to blow out to 9.6L. Still the cheaper car to run, though.
Falcon XT: Cosseting suspension does a terrific job of soaking up lumps and bumps, but the flip side is that the big Ford tends to lean in corners and steering lacks precision.
EcoBoost: Feels by small degrees the more satisfying to drive with enthusiasm, with less weight over the front wheels contributing to nimbler response to steering inputs with no loss in ride quality.
Falcon XT: If the Falcon is doomed, it’s not because it’s an inferior drive. Solid dynamic fundamentals honed over decades of development are still world-class, but the six’s fuel use is off the pace and the rest of the package looks tired.
EcoBoost: It’s everything the identically-priced six-cylinder Falcon is, and just a bit more. Specifically, more fuel economy and more enjoyable to drive, although that slightly anemic engine note takes some getting used to.