FI­NAL FLIGHT FOR FAL­CON

FUEL EF­FI­CIENCY A MONEY-SAVER

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Peter Barn­well

THEY saved the best for last and, based on the lat­est sales fig­ures, it's a pity not many pun­ters will get to ap­pre­ci­ate the new (last) FG X Fal­con.

Fal­con has been been evolv­ing for years and still has the same ba­sic chas­sis con­struc­tion from about 20 years ago, same ba­sic floor pan, roof, doors etc. The en­gine, though a straight six with twin cams and vari­able valve tim­ing, harks back to the first Fal­con en­gine back in 1960. Some­one sug­gested the first and last Fal­con sixes share the same bore cen­tres (dis­tance be­tween the en­gine's cylin­ders). We'd be­lieve it. But it all works, mak­ing this en­gine one of the best sixes around. Bet­ter than a cheap-topro­duce V6 any day, and smoother.

This time around they had a real crack at the Falc's styling giv­ing it a Euro­pean Ford face with cues shared with the likes of Mon­deo, Fo­cus and Fi­esta and a stylish rear end.

It makes the FG X look smaller over­all and dis­tinctly sim­i­lar to the new Hyundai Ge­n­e­sis. Yup, you take a closer look. The ef­fect is strik­ing, mak­ing the FG X the best look­ing Falc' for a long time es­pe­cially with the (evil eye) head­lights and As­ton-style grille.

In­side is pretty much the same grey taxi look found in a Falc' for a cou­ple of decades - but it hides a swag of new con­nec­tiv­ity tech­nol­ogy in­clud­ing a WiFi hotspot, en­ter­tain­ment, safety and luxury.

Three grades are of­fered in the base Fal­con, the G se­ries and XR se­ries with four, six or V8 en­gines.

Why any­body would buy a four banger Fal­con is be­yond us and sales re­flect that.

The EcoLPi six ($38,400) we drove is such a bet­ter propo­si­tion - on all fronts. It even has a nor­mal size boot un­sul­lied by the usual LPG tank you find in other gas cars.

The EcoLPi sys­tem has been around for a while and it makes more power and torque than the petrol six thanks to its liq­uid LPG in­jec­tion sys­tem in­stead of vapour in­jec­tion.

The fig­ures are 198kW/ 409Nm and get this, is uses as lit­tle as 8.0-litres/100km. Bet­ter yet is the fact that LPG is about 76c a litre right now.

You can get EcoLPi in the base Falc' like we drove and also in XR grade. We would go for the XR6 ev­ery day.

But the base model drive car was pretty good of­fer­ing up im­pres­sive en­gine per­for­mance across the en­tire rev range.

At no point are you left in the lurch with­out enough grunt. It's a throt­tle push-and-go sit­u­a­tion.

There's a new six speed auto be­hind the donk of­fer­ing bet­ter changes than be­fore and more ap­pro­pri­ate gear­ing. It also has a se­quen­tial shift mode on the se­lec­tor stick. No pad­dles though.

We found the lag be­tween turn­ing the key and en­gine start­ing a lit­tle dis­con­cert­ing.

But oth­er­wise, would rec­om­mend the EcoLPi ev­ery day over the stan­dard petrol car.

The base Fal­con gets a de­cent ar­ray of kit in­clud­ing the afore­men­tioned Sync2 con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem with voice con­trol to many func­tions and emer­gency as­sist.

There's also a re­verse cam­era with front and rear park as­sist and limit over­lays, cli­mate con­trol, cruise, power ad­just driver's seat, auto head­lights and other good­ies. No sat­nav though.

The front seats have been repo­si­tioned lower than the pre- vi­ous model, im­prov­ing ac­cess for taller peo­ple.

The re­cal­i­brated sus­pen­sion is an im­prove­ment and aero­dy­namic changes have a pos­i­tive ef­fect. But the low rolling re­sis­tance Miche­lins (16-inch) are too skinny for the car and can be a grip is­sue es­pe­cially in the wet.

We'd chuck 'em and get some de­cent rub­ber. And 16s - re­ally? S'pose they were on a tight bud­get.

It's a heavy beast th­ese days at 1766kg for the test car, more for the XR6 ver­sion.

The in­te­rior styling is bor­ing but func­tional and the car feels com­fort­able to ride in - prob­a­bly be­cause of its size.

Like it, more lively than a Com­modore, uses less fuel, looks pretty good too. De­cent amount of kit and the con­nec­tiv­ity up­grades are im­pres­sive.

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