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Ford Falcon 2006 review

The liftee looks mysteriously younger and more fabulous, but you, the untrained eyeballer, can't quite put your finger on why (and it's just as well because if you could it would feel gross, like a turkey's neck).

Cher, for example, has had so much skin lifted above her head over the years that you could make a Lindsay Lohan out of it. In fact, maybe someone did. But to you and I, she looks pretty good, for a 90-year-old.

So, it would be fair to say that Ford's Falcon facelift, known as the BF Falcon MkII, is, in cosmetic surgery terms at least, a success.

If you can spot the differences at one glance, you clearly spend too much time reading CARSguide.

In fact, if you are one of these people you should put this section down right now, go outside and sniff some flowers. Please.

The BF II is, as Paul Keating would say, the facelift the Falcon had to have.

With several hundred forests having been denuded to tell the world how wondrous the new VE Commodore is, the very existence of the not-so-new-any more Falcon has been in question.

Thus, Ford has spruced it up, priced it down and added some new, bargain-priced fruit to put itself back at the forefront of buyers' minds. Or at least those buyers who are still interested in large, Aussie cars.

The changes the trainspotters will be oohing over include a "new, stylish tapered bonnet", a revised grille, a new front bumper, some shiny chrome bits and new headlights.

These nips and tucks give the car a slightly more sophisticated face, but from a distance it would be fair to say that the BFII looks a lot like a BF Falcon.

Some cars in the range, like the sporty XR series, also get some new bits of trim, but I forgot to look for them and, as a result, didn't actually notice.

There are also some new colours from Ford's violent colour palette, as usual, which sound like they were named after female wrestlers and look like they'd be more at home on leotards.

Neo, Octane, Breeze, Obsession and Flare are their naff names and if you've seen the kind of lurid, lunch-disturbing colours Ford has been producing in the past few years, you can imagine what they're like.

The model with the most changes is the Fairmont Ghia, which gets all the bonnet bits the others get, XR-style side skirts and bumpers, a chrome exhaust pipe and "new block font 'GHIA' badging".

When they mention that sort of thing, you know they've really run out of stuff to say.

The Ghia also gets new trim, a new steering wheel, new instruments and an onyx command centre, which, rather ingeniously, is so Darth Vader's helmet shiny that it reflects sun right into your eyes.

Oh, and Bluetooth is now available across the range.

Frippery aside, the good news is that the Fairmont Ghia, which is actually a pretty slick drive with the excellent six-speed ZF automatic, has had its price cut from $52,860 to $46,490, in an effort to make it competitive with the new VE Calais ($45,490).

Better yet, the XR range has gone into battle with the SS, copping price cuts of up to 12.4 per cent.

The already outstanding value XR6 Turbo drops from $46,405 to $43,990 and the big-nosed XR8 from $51,330 to $44,990.

Holden's SS range starts at $45,490.

The biggest benefit of this facelifting frenzy, however, is that the six-speed auto will now be available across the range, which is a major thumbing of the nose to Holden.

On its own, the ZF box would be a $1500 option, but Ford is offering a steak knives and kitchen sink deal, called a Euro Sports Package, which includes the six-speed box, Dynamic Stability Control, sports-tuned rear suspension and 17-inch alloys - worth a claimed $3900 - for a piddling $250.

Of course, this sounds like Sale of the Century, but it's actually a slightly desperate bid for market share, it's not available to fleet buyers and it's only available on vehicles purchased and delivered between November 1 and December 31.

It also means that Ford has failed to match Holden in making the potentially life-saving DSC technology standard across its large-car range.

Ford says it is merely listening to its customers and giving them the choice they want. Road-safety experts might point out that people are idiots, they never know what's good for them (customers will always choose alloy wheels over airbags, given the option) and that car companies should be doing the right thing and just giving them DSC, like medicine.

Oh, the other thing we're meant to be very excited about is that Ford claims to have cut fuel economy by vast amounts, or was it 2 per cent?

They're also keen to point out that if base model buyers opt for the six-speed auto they'll save even more on fuel. Four-speed-auto fitted XTs drop from 10.9 litres to 10.7 litres per 100km, but if they choose the ZF it drops right down to 10.2 litres.

All fascinating stuff, except that over some 500km driven in various models, we returned figures of between 11.2 and 13.8 litres, which just goes to show you that real-world figures are all that really matter.

The surprising thing is that car companies still think they can sell big blunder buses like this on fuel economy, when they'd be better off just not talking about it at all.

The overall impression after a day of driving, however, was that while the Ford Falcon BFII range may look a little dated and taxi-like inside, it's still a pretty contemporary, and capable, engineering package. And the ZF box should be an automatic choice.

Stephen Corby is a senior roadtester for the CARSguide team whose work also appears in the Sunday Telegraph. A version of this review plus more news and analysis can be read in the Sunday Telegraph.

More Corby rantings on non-car stuff can be found on his Daily Telegraph blog.

Pricing guides

Based on 173 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

Futura 4.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,800 – 6,160 2006 Ford Falcon 2006 Futura Pricing and Specs
Futura (LPG) 4.0L, LPG, 4 SP AUTO $3,900 – 6,380 2006 Ford Falcon 2006 Futura (LPG) Pricing and Specs
Futura Eurosport 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $5,000 – 7,810 2006 Ford Falcon 2006 Futura Eurosport Pricing and Specs
SR 4.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,700 – 6,050 2006 Ford Falcon 2006 SR Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


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