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Ford Falcon XR6 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
6
Bill McKinnon road tests and reviews the Ford Falcon XR6 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict. In XR6 guise, the final Falcon maintains the badge's virtues (and quirks) and the look-at-me colours. So, this is it. The final Falcon test. When the gates are locked at Ford's plants in Broadmeadows and Geelong, the

Bill McKinnon road tests and reviews the Ford Falcon XR6 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

In XR6 guise, the final Falcon maintains the badge's virtues (and quirks) and the look-at-me colours.

So, this is it. The final Falcon test. When the gates are locked at Ford's plants in Broadmeadows and Geelong, the Falcon is, literally, history.

We'll send the mighty Falcon off with a road test of the XR6, the most popular model lately. It's always been great value for money and Ford dealers are flogging the last examples at $38,190 drive-away.

Design

This last of the line Falcon series, the FG-X launched in 2014, includes Ford's family grille, giving a connection to the Mustang and Mondeo, which as of Monday becomes the company's largest sedan.

The XR6 is the Falcon with a dash of flash, so you get a dark mesh grille with fake alloy surrounds and foglights, daytime running lights, a small spoiler and tough 18-inch polished graphite alloys, with 245/40 Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres.

it wouldn't be an XR6 without a palette of look-at-me colours, including Kinetic, Smoke, Victory Gold, Lightning Strike and Emperor.

It also sits on firmer suspension than the base FG-X. Otherwise, it's mechanically identical.

And, hey, it wouldn't be an XR6 without a palette of look-at-me colours, including Kinetic, Smoke, Victory Gold, Lightning Strike and Emperor.

Sports pretensions don't, unfortunately, extend to the driver's seat or seating position.

Upholstered in tacky, mesh-look fabric, the driver's seat is soft and unsupportive. Even at its lowest position you're elevated in the cabin, as if you're perched atop a big sled, with the steering wheel down in your lap. I've tested enough Falcons to be accustomed to it by now but if you're jumping into one for the first time and you're fairly tall, you will find it very strange.

Apart from Ford's Sync2 touchscreen multimedia, the Falcon's dash layout is frozen in the mid-noughties.

Automatic emergency braking? Radar cruise? Blind spot monitoring? No.

As the Falcon has been in palliative care since 2013, Ford was never going to invest in 21st-century driver-assist safety technology.

Around town the lightest touch on the accelerator launches it quickly from the lights, a long-time Falcon trait.

Steeply angled to create headroom, the rear seat cushion is firm and comfortable with ample legroom and will easily accommodate three.

The boot has a large depression in the floor and a large porthole for long objects. A space-saver is underneath.

Around town

Falcon's 4.0-litre long-stroke "Barra" six is a tough, big-hearted engine, with diesel-like sluggability at the bottom end, midrange muscle that rivals some V8s and top end power that continues unabated to a 6000rpm redline.

It's never been a tuneful device though, with a breathy, slightly strained note that belies the ease with which it shifts the Falcon's 1.75 tonnes.

Since the advent of the family-sized monster SUV, the Falcon doesn't feel as big as it once did.

Around town the lightest touch on the accelerator launches it quickly from the lights, a long-time Falcon trait. Thereafter, you can let the torque do the work in traffic because it pulls the higher gears so easily and smoothly.

Driven intelligently, you can get 12-14L/100km; leadfoot it and the 4.0-litre sucks regular unleaded like a V8.

The six-speed ZF automatic can be abrupt occasionally when it grabs a gear but is generally unobtrusive and efficient. Ford claims it's adaptive. By 2016 standards, it's a slow learner.

Olde-worlde hydraulic steering is heavy when manoeuvring but, since the advent of the family-sized monster SUV, the Falcon doesn't feel as big as it once did.

On the road

At 100km/h in sixth there's just 1600rpm on the tacho and the straight six is using 7-8L/100km. It's got so much bottom end grunt it will hang onto sixth even on quite steep climbs. It will also pull up to 1600kg, or 2300kg with the optional heavy-duty tow pack.

Question popped, the ZF responds quickly (in Sport mode) and the Falcon lunges forward so strongly it feels almost unstoppable.

Many car companies bang on about their suspension being tuned for Australian conditions. Not like this it's not.

You don't brutalise a Falcon through a corner, otherwise it will try to turn around and bite you on the bum. It likes being caressed around bends in stages: first you point it with indirect and slightly overassisted steering; then the rear end does its little lurch and roll, so you straighten the wheel a touch; this gets the car back on track, nicely settled and sitting flat (ish) through the bend.

Once you get the hang of it, you can make a Falcon flow along gracefully at speed, particularly on a rough country road where ride comfort, stability and control are superb.

Many car companies bang on about their suspension being tuned for Australian conditions. Not like this it's not.

There's decent grip from the Dunlops but the Falcon's brakes are weak, wooden and inadequate for a car of this size and weight.

Verdict

I'm paid to be unsentimental about cars. In truth, it is time for the Falcon to fade away. Still, I feel really sad that it's over. Whatever its faults, the Falcon has always had honesty and integrity, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get quality that makes it a likeable, friendly car with a strong egalitarian streak. A bit like the people and the country that build it... sorry, built it.

What it's got

Six airbags, stability control, eight-inch touchscreen, digital radio, voice control (that actually works, for satnav, audio, phone and aircon), automatic emergency assistance dialling via smartphone, auto headlights, front and rear parking sensors, rear camera with dynamic guidelines and centre-line, 18-inch alloys, sports seats, instruments, body kit and suspension, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear lever.

What it hasn't

Automatic emergency braking, radar cruise, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, Apple CarPlay or Android auto, automatic wipers, full-size spare.

Ownership

Servicing costs $1190 over four years/60,000km, with intervals of 12 months/15,000km. Each service includes 12 months' state auto club membership and free loan car.

 

Would you buy one of the last XR6s? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Ford Falcon pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

$25,990
Based on 156 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$11,999
Highest Price
$79,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $14,900 – 24,990 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 (base) Pricing and Specs
(LPI) 4.0L, LPG, 6 SP AUTO $13,975 – 23,990 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 (LPI) Pricing and Specs
Ecoboost 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,500 – 15,400 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 Ecoboost Pricing and Specs
G6E 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,990 – 27,990 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 G6E Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6
Pricing Guide

$11,999

Lowest price, based on 58 car listings in the last 6 months

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