Ford's much discussed four-cylinder Ford Falcon may not turn out to be as limp wristed as some pundits suggest. Indeed, set to debut later this year under the ECOBoost banner, the new direct-injected turbocharged two-litre engine could be a surprise performer – even under the full-sized Falcon's bonnet.
Ford's local engineers are as proud as punch about the results of combining the new turbo four and ZF's six-speed auto in the Falcon. In fact, they have revealed the turbo four Falc will outpace a Holden Commodore 3.0-litre V6 when it goes on sale later this year.
Ford insiders would not reveal to the carsales Network exactly how the acceleration times compared, but did say the four-cylinder Falcon had "met its targets and that [out-accelerating Commodore] was one of the targets".
In an attempt to minimise potential fallout over the engine's cylinder count and capacity, Ford has instructed all its dealers to refer to the model only as "ECOBoost". It's understood the model will include no capacity-related badging.
Ford USA will adopt a similar strategy when the engine is rolled out into a full-size pick-up model as well as its front-wheel drive Taurus large car.
The last four-cylinder large car made in Australia was a Holden Commodore in the 1980s. It was a kneejerk reaction to the oil crisis and used a cut-down version of Holden's OHV inline six. The so-called Starfire four was a poor performer and used as much as or more fuel than the six it replaced.
A more recent example of a turbo four-cylinder car using as much or more fuel than a six-cylinder is the Mazda CX-7. Despite an impressive fuel rating label figure, its real world consumption is as much if not more than a Ford Territory – and is the reason Mazda rushed to introduce a diesel version as well as a non-turbo 2.5 four-cylinder.
Ford is likely to achieve an impressive fuel rating label figure with the new four-cylinder large car. The Carsales Network believes that prospective fleet customers have already been informed of a CO2 emission number that points to fuel consumption in the very low 8L/100km range. By way of comparison other petrol four-cylinder cars in the VFACTs large car segment, Skoda's Superb and Honda's accord returns 7.3 and 8.8L/100km in ADR testing respectively. The Carsales Network has also heard a figure of 6.5L/100km mentioned for the EcoBoost Falcon, although we understand that figure is not verified in accordance with ADRs.
Ford hopes the four-cylinder Falcon will appeal strongly to government fleets, particularly those such as Queensland which recently adopted a four-cylinder-only policy (with exceptions for emergency vehicles).
"The fleets want this car," said our insider.
"Some have already driven it and are very impressed. They said they couldn't pick it as a four-cylinder. It's no slouch…"
Officially Ford will say little save for this from Ford spokeswoman Sinead McAlary: "We're confident we have a great car for our customers. We wouldn't be launching it if it didn't meet our objectives and our customers' objectives."
-- with staff
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