Ford Falcon Ecoboost 4cyl Launch Review
26 April 2012
It's a Falcon like no other, but is Ford Australia selling it short?
Ford Falcon EcoBoost XT and G6E
What we liked
>> Different character courtesy of four-cylinder power
>> No sacrifice in cornering or ride
>> No price premium
Not so much
>> Ultimately lacks six-cylinder charisma
>> Slightly lower performance
>> Turbo lag
-- No six please, we're British
The engine powering Ford's new Falcon EcoBoost was originally developed in Europe -- specifically at Ford's research centre at Dunton in the UK. It was always planned that the 2.0-litre four, turbocharged and direct-injected, would replace five and six-cylinder engines in Ford's range of larger vehicles. And Britain, one of the first countries in Europe to apply punitive tax measures for vehicles that emit high levels of CO2, was a natural Centre of Expertise for the development of the new engine.
The situation unfolding in Australia is markedly different from Europe's. Here, there hasn't been the same level of concern about climate change and the part played in that by hothouse gases like CO2. In fact, anthropogenic climate change remains an issue hotly contested in our country.
But there's no such debate over fuel prices. Since pump prices are expected to continue rising into the foreseeable future, along with gas and electricity charges, Australians are already adjusting their lifestyle choices (including the type of car they own) to offset the gathering expenses. Ford has it in mind to sell new-car buyers -- and particularly fleets -- a vehicle with all the traditional virtues of the company's large Falcon sedan, without the running costs. Also, it helps that the new car promotes its (fleet) owner as a good corporate citizen -- one that cares about the environment. Enter the EcoBoost Falcon, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and direct injection.
PRICE AND EQUIPMENT
-- When less is more
Ford has priced the new EcoBoost variants (three of them: XT, G6 and G6E) at the same level as the six-cylinder equivalents. The basic XT with the 2.0-litre GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) engine is priced at $37,235. That's the same price as the six-cylinder Falcon XT and what you're getting for your freedom of choice amounts to lower running costs and an engine that's technically more advanced than the Geelong-built six.
The mid-range G6 is priced at $40,835 for both four and six-cylinder variants. It's interesting to note that the better-equipped G6 is now nearly as affordable as the last of the Falcon XT variants prior to the MkII upgrade. Ford has positioned the G6E at the peak of the EcoBoost model range, again at the same price as its six-cylinder sibling: $46,735. Unlike the six-cylinder cars, there are no XR6 EcoBoost variants, and at a stroke, that says much about Ford's marketing aspirations for the turbo four Falcon.
-- Low-blow turbocharging a high point
Based on an original Mazda design, the all-alloy 2.0 GTDi engine is a DOHC inline four in an oversquare configuration. Its bore and stroke dimensions measure 87.5x83.1mm for power at higher engine speeds, but the combination of turbocharging, direct injection and variable valve timing provide a broader spread of torque further down in the rev range as well. Ford has named the variable valve timing system Ti-VCT, for Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing.
With the engine's turbocharger spinning away at up to 200,000rpm, it supplies air boosted up to 13 psi into the engine through high-flow inlet ports. All the while the direct injection system delivers fuel through a stainless steel rail at a pressure of 150bar and the injectors each spray through seven jets for optimal dispersion. Through the cooling effect of the direct injection system, the engine can run a compression ratio of 9.3:1, which is considered reasonably high for a turbocharged petrol powerplant.
A further advantage of the direct injection system, according to Ford, is that fuel won't puddle around the tops of the intake valves, as is the case with conventional port injection systems. As a consequence, the direct injection engine doesn't create any emissions spikes on start-up. Turbo lag, a common complaint associated with turbocharged engines is reduced to a large extent with the direct injection system of the EcoBoost setup, Ford also claims.
Ford Australia sources the Falcon's 2.0-litre EcoBoost from an engine plant in Valencia, Spain. In the Australian market, where Euro 4 is the current applicable emissions standard, the EcoBoost engine readily meets that target, but the engine is already meeting the Euro 5 standard in the Ford Galaxy and S-Max models sold in Europe, so upcoming Euro 5 regs in Australia won't pose a problem for this particular Falcon engine. The 2.0-litre EcoBoost also powers Volvo's S60 and V60, plus Ford's own Mondeo, but this is the first rear-wheel drive application to reach the market anywhere in the world, although Ford has conducted testing of the engine in the F250 truck range sold in North America.
Other changes to Falcon for the EcoBoost variants include the coupling of a ZF HP21 six-speed automatic transmission. This is distinct from the HP26 transmission that Ford fits to six-cylinder Falcon variants and the petrol Territory. According to Ford Australia powertrain engineer David Mitchell, the HP21 box is a more efficient unit devised specifically for applications like the EcoBoost's. It's lighter than the HP26 and also features a revised torque converter.
Springs and damper settings have been adjusted to suit the lighter, shorter engine. The weight distribution for the EcoBoost Falcon is better than the six-cylinder car's, according to Ford's suspension guru, Alex de Vlugt. To capitalise on the improved balance, the EcoBoost Falcon G6 is fitted with a smaller diameter anti-roll bar at the rear, and the Falcon XT comes with a larger diameter anti-roll bar at the front -- up from 31 to 32mm. Ride height for the XT has been reduced by 13mm also and the base model rides on 16-inch wheels shod with low-rolling resistance Goodyear tyres. Ford recommends the 215/60 R16 tyres be inflated to 38PSI, as opposed to 33PSI for other Falcon variants. The one change made to the steering system for the EcoBoost variants is a variable displacement power steering pump.
Much more at the LINK