56 FG Fal­con G6E Turbo

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

Like a Great White hunt­ing hap­less seals, the G6E Turbo, is just about in­vis­i­ble in traf­fic but can rise up and pounce with­out sig­nalling any evil in­tent. Theme song : Me­tal­lica ‘Of Wolf and Man’.

Like a Great White hunt­ing hap­less seals, it was just about in­vis­i­ble in traf­fic but could rise up and pounce with­out sig­nalling any evil in­tent

When the team at Ford Aus­tralia was plan­ning the FG Fal­con fight­back in the mid ‘noughties’ they knew they had to in­ject some­thing spe­cial into their fam­ily car mix.

The Holden Com­modore VE was run­ning hard and fast in show­rooms, pro­vid­ing driv­ing en­joy­ment that the Fal­con could not match and a de­sign ad­vance that re-wrote the stan­dard for Aus­tralian-made cars.

Af­ter the dis­as­ter of the AU Fal­con, no num­ber of taxi sales in Mel­bourne was go­ing to re­pair the dam­age to the im­age of Ford’s front­line fighter and the blue oval brand.

Ford al­ready had its XR sports sedans, as well as the head­lin­ers from Ford Per­for­mance Ve­hi­cles, and there was no chance of a fu­elmiser diesel model. So the fo­cus shifted to some­thing that com­bined sports with lux­ury to rein­vent the ap­peal of the long run­ning but run­down Fair­mont Ghia.

What Ford needed was a head­liner that could run stealth­ily in com­muter traf­fic with a flag­ship pack­age of lux­ury-safety-tech­nol­ogy, then deliver a play­time pay­load on tar­get for week­ends.

Trevor Worthington and his en­gi­neer­ing crew got to work and when the FG Fal­con went pub­lic on Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 17 of 2008 the Fair­mont was his­tory and the three-model G6 crew – start­ing with a unique face on the front – had taken its place. Sit­ting at the top, look­ing more like a con­densed Fair­lane than any­thing re­lated to the lat­est XRs, was the badly named but beau­ti­fully con­ceived G6E Turbo.

Many people over­looked it in the rush to check the starter car with the all-new body struc­ture, class-leading safety pack­age and re­vi­talised cabin lay­out. They were mea­sur­ing ev­ery­thing against Holden’s lat­est V8-pow­ered VE he­roes and the only suc­cess­ful full-sized turbo had been way back in the 1980s, when even the po­lice had been won over by the VL Com­modore.

But Ford was com­mit­ted and con­vinced it had a po­ten­tial star.

“The in­tro­duc­tion of the all-new G6E Turbo will cre­ate ex­cite­ment and pro­vide the per­fect bal­ance of sports lux­ury per­for­mance for cus­tomers who don’t wish to com­pro­mise on ei­ther sports or lux­ury op­tions,” the very short­lived pres­i­dent of Ford Aus­tralia, Bill Os­borne, claimed at the time.

The Amer­i­can im­port got a lot of things wrong dur­ing his time at Broad­mead­ows, but Os­borne was right on this one and the G6E Turbo be­came the stealthy star of the FG range.

It was, and still is, a car that could romp when re­quired but was just as happy to cruise for com­fort. It’s a com­bi­na­tion that suited a lot of people, in­clud­ing the older blokes who were look­ing for some­thing with­out the trousers-down im­pact of an XR but still ca­pa­ble of punch­ing be­yond its badge.

Much like that Com­modore Turbo from the 1980s, which re­served its best work for the times when the tur­bocharger on its Nis­san six was de­liv­er­ing max­i­mum im­pact, the G6E had plenty of top-end rush. But since it was a new-age turbo with a chubby bot­tom-end it could also torque away from the crowd at al­most any time and incite blis­ter­ing over­tak­ing runs.

Ford also got the tun­ing of its six-speed ZF auto spot-on, in­clud­ing a touch-change set-up that matched race prac­tice – push­ing for­ward for a down­shift, pulling back for an up­shift – at a time when few com­pa­nies were pre­pared to gam­ble on a di­ver­sion from the Amer­i­can-cen­tric prac­tice of pulling back to slow, like the days of two-speed T-bars.

It’s hard to rate the suc­cess of the G6E Turbo by its sales, be­cause the Fal­con was al­ready in de­cline by the time it hit Aus­tralian show­rooms. The FG did a lit­tle to close the gap, and gen­er­ated lots of in­ter­est within Ford fam­i­lies, but it was never go­ing to be enough when the Fal­con had also con­ceded its place as Aus­tralia’s favourite used car – a crown car­ried proudly even by lemons like the ugly but bul­let­proof AU line-up – to the red team.

Even so, by March in 2014 a to­tal of 3898 G6Es had been de­liv­ered. That’s not bad for

a car that started with a pre­mium pric­etag of $54,990 at a time when the bot­tom line for the ba­sic Fal­con XT – a name that never worked – was $36,490.

The pric­etag for a show­room-shiny G6E had only risen very marginally to $56,235 by May of 2014, a re­flec­tion mostly of the price pres­sures across the car busi­ness, but the car had also been di­ver­si­fied with an EcoLPi model for gas fans and even a EcoBoost four-cylin­der model priced from $46,735.

At the same time, sec­ond­hand prices now start from just un­der $20,000 for a pass­able 2007 orig­i­nal, with a lot of cars from the sub-2010 bracket hov­er­ing at value prices around $25,000.

When the G6E first hit the road there was noth­ing vis­ual to sug­gest it was pack­ing 270 kiloWatts and 533 New­ton-me­tres in the en­gine room, but it was more than good enough – with that six-speed auto and sports-tuned sus­pen­sion – to claim a Car of the Year award from the News Limited mo­tor­ing team at the end of 2008.

As one of the judges on that COTY panel, I can clearly re­call romp­ing through some great driv­ing roads in­land from Syd­ney in a car that was like a Great White hunt­ing hap­less seals. It was just about in­vis­i­ble in traf­fic but could rise up and pounce with­out sig­nalling any evil in­tent.

It was al­most the com­plete op­po­site of the XR Fal­cons, which were al­ways ca­pa­ble of trig­ger­ing an un­wanted arms race with some­one pilot­ing an SS Com­modore.

Ford never talked of­fi­cial 0-100km/h times, how­ever the G6E was clocked at an im­pres­sive 4.9 sec­onds and twist­ing the speedome­ter around to 200km/h and be­yond was ef­fort­less on de­serted back roads.

It al­ways felt a bit more hefty than an XR in tighter turns, al­though it still re­sponded well to the steer­ing. That was mostly down to the car’s weight, as well as a com­bi­na­tion of tyres and ride height that were cho­sen so they would not com­pro­mise com­fort or road noise.

But the G6E was also more com­pli­ant than an XR, which meant it could ac­tu­ally be quicker – and far less tir­ing – on a twisty road with lots of bumps. And there was noth­ing wrong with the auto gear­box, since a self-shifter is bet­ter at keep­ing a force-fed en­gine loaded and de­liv­er­ing boost from rel­a­tively low revs.

Look­ing back at the of­fi­cial Ford launch pack­age for the FG, the G Se­ries range was iden­ti­fied by a unique front bumper, grille and front fog lamps, while the cabin was treated to a rear cen­tre arm­rest with cup hold­ers, Blue­tooth phone in­te­gra­tion – a big deal in the day – and a seven-inch colour in­fo­tain­ment screen that was a first for the Fal­con.

Step­ping up into the G6E brought the bonus of 18-inch al­loys – there were also op­tional 19s – a small boot spoiler and chrome around the head­lamps. Add a re­vers­ing cam­era, side-cur­tain airbags – the car also had sta­bil­ity con­trol and ABS brakes – leather seats in­clud­ing eight-way elec­tric ad­just­ment for the driver, and dual-zone auto air­con and the car was good buy­ing.

Be­cause the G6E com­bined per­for­mance with lux­ury, it was never as pop­u­lar with buy­ers as an all-out XR. But the cars are gen­er­ally treated well and it’s not too dif­fi­cult to find one in good con­di­tion, at an af­ford­able price.

It has yet to reach the cult sta­tus of the VL Com­modore Turbo, and it’s been over-run and over­looked by the fo­cus on the V8s from the Holden side of the shed, but there is a grow­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for its strengths. And Ford plans to con­tinue the G6E Turbo right to the bit­ter end, and the time when the fi­nal Fal­cons run down the pro­duc­tion line at Broad­mead­ows.

Next edi­tion

In is­sue #75 we turn the ta­bles by nom­i­nat­ing five Sheep in Wolves’ Cloth­ing. These are ma­cho-look­ing ma­chines that were more ‘show’ than ‘go’. Is­sue #75 is on sale July 24.

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