June 4, 2012
Ford was still fighting back from the disaster that was the AU Falcon when it launched the all-new FG in 2008. Unfortunately for the company the market by then was turning its back on traditional full-sized family sedans.
There has been a seismic shift in the market in the last few years and the old favourites, like the Falcon, have been supplanted by high-riding wagons otherwise known as SUVs.Battling against a tidal wave of antipathy the FG has struggled for sales, which is a pity given that it's perhaps the best Falcon ever.
Anyone willing to remove the blinkers and consider the Falcon in the clear light of day would find a car that is good looking, well-equipped, roomy, comfortable, refined and safe, one that makes perfectly good sense for an average family.
There was a broad range of models to choose from, starting with the entry level XT, from which two branches sprang to form the sporty XR and the luxury G6 lines. The main engine across the range was the venerable 4.0-litre six-cylinder, which had all the punch you could possibly want in its petrol guise, or in the dedicated LPG version, an economy of operation.
The big six was the main staple in the XT, G6, G6E and XR6, but for those wanting more Ford offered the sizzling hot turbocharged version in the XR6T and G6ET, and for those hanging on to the past there was a rumbling 5.4-litre V8 in the XR8. The standard transmission was a five-speed auto, with the option of a six-speed self-shifter. There was a manual transmission available, but it was rarely taken up and as a result is rare to find.
It's fair to say that previous Falcons have fallen short of the mark. Most recent models have suffered from one problem or another, build quality has been an issue, and the reputation of the family Ford has suffered as a result. The FG, however, is showing itself to be a solid model without major flaws.
The earliest examples are now approaching the 100,000 km milestone and FG owners appear to be a contented lot with few complaints. The Falcon six is a robust unit and rarely gives trouble. If it has an issue it's with fuel consumption, which remains too high despite the best efforts of Ford's engineers to reduce its thirst for unleaded.
The good news is that it does take LPG without a problem, so anyone wanting to save a few bucks can always fit a dual-fuel system. Ford, of course, offered a dedicated LPG engine, but it's old technology and comes with the usual problems associated with that technology, like backfiring, stalling on start, surging and stumbling.
The other issue with the LPG engine is that it drops quite a bit of power and torque, and that means lower performance. Fitting a modern vapour injection dual-fuel system overcomes all of those deficiencies, and the running costs can still be substantially cut. Like the six-cylinder engine, the auto transmissions are, for the most part, robust and reliable. They're a filled-for-life deal and in theory there's no need to ever service them, but commonsense says that it's a good idea to change the fluid regularly and service the 'box every couple of years, particularly if you are doing a lot of towing.
The good thing is that Ford appears to have sorted the problem they were having with the transmission oil cooler in earlier models, and the problem that caused the demise of the auto transmission is no longer an issue. A word of caution, however, as we have had the odd report of the six- speed auto transmission failing. Repairing it is very expensive and can run into the many thousands of dollars. Other things to be aware of are split differential bushes, a loud clunk can usually be heard from the rear end when this has happened, and brake shudder.
Best Ford in years, it's a good car and worth a look if you want a large, comfortable cars.