Joel Helmes test drives and reviews the 2014 Falcon Falcon XT.
The Ford Falcon v Holden Commodore rivalry stems back to the very early 1980’s. Over that period of time Holden has arguably, generally offered a superior product.
Ford has also sullied its good name on several occasions with a couple of Falcon models that suffered from major teething problems and/or were particularly unpopular with buyers (the EA and AU come to mind).
But, in 2014 there’s a Falcon that has well and truly taken the ascendancy – the Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost.
Ever since Ford announced the 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol EcoBoost engine was getting dropped into the Falcon I have been keenly anticipating having a drive.
Here was a major shift away from the big straight sixes and V8’s that have graced the big Ford sedans engine bay since the 60’s.
I’m pleased to declare this engine has made the Falcon a much better car.
To me that is a big relief because shifting to such a radically different engine, especially one with such a small capacity (in comparison to the traditional Falcon engine), had me worried.
I’m pleased to say however that the EcoBoost engine is a real winner.
It delivers 179kW and 353Nm in a smooth, refined and effortless manner.
Acceleration is, as you would expect, a little less crisp than the bigger engines at lower revs but once the turbo seamlessly goes to work you won’t have any trouble overtaking or keeping up with the traffic.
The best compliment I can give the EcoBoost engine is you pretty much have to remind yourself that it isn’t a larger capacity engine.
In fact I will go a step further and add that I believe you would be mad to choose the six-cylinder over the four!
The EcoBoost Falcon also weighs around 60kgs less than its six-cylinder sister and you can really feel this in the front end of the car with a more nimble ride and responsive steering.
There is of course always the risk when offering a lower capacity engine that any gains you make are lost by making the smaller engine work harder; this isn’t the case here with the Falcon averaging a very respectable 10 litres per 100 in the city and a combined figure of 8.1.
In comparison the six uses over 14 litres per 100 urban and offers a combined 9.9.
As impressive as the engine is if you mated it to a substandard gearbox all the good work would be undone, that is certainly not the case with the six-speed auto in the EcoBoost Falcon delivering seamless shifts in all the right places.
Away from the engine the current Ford Falcon could quite easily be described as the best Falcon ever with a feeling of refinement light years ahead of past models.
Probably the thing that stands out the most is just how quiet the cabin is, Ford has done a great job insulating the big sedan and even in this entry level model it helps lift the overall feel of the car.
Around the cabin this sense of refinement carries through with generally very nicely presented fabrics and plastics, it’s almost European inside.
Legroom front and back is very good and it will also come as no surprise that the boot is huge.
Cabin storage is also quite good especially on the inside of the doors.
From the driver’s seat the gauges are clear and the trip computer is easy to use.
The steering wheel is a touch on the hard side however and coupled with quite hard arm rests and the lack of a driver’s footrest and it does start getting a little uncomfortable behind the wheel.
I was also surprised about the height adjustment for the steering wheel, to me it felt like the steering wheel should be able to be moved higher, there’s even a gap between the steering column and dashboard to suggest more upward adjustment, a bit odd.
I also thought the stereo and climate control buttons were a little bit too small and complex, in all there are 27 buttons under the central display screen and finding the right one does take your concentration away from the road.
This however is redeemed by the elevated placement of the central display screen which offers large, easy to see graphics and touch screen buttons.
In this base model Ford Falcon XT you don’t get satellite navigation or a rear reversing camera though parking sensors are standard.
And finally on the outside its ticks all round from me with a smooth and hassle free design that probably surpasses most of the Falcon designs of at least the recent past.
The standard 16” alloy wheels help lift the package as well.
Summing it up, well it’s a shame the Falcons days look numbered, the EcoBoost Falcon is a genuinely good car all round and the Ford engineers and Australian workforce should be proud.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2014 Ford Falcon XT EcoBoost
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 179kW and 353Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: 3 yrs/100,000km
Price: From $37,235
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Ford FG Falcon.