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Ford Falcon Inline-6 has a doubtful future

by DrivingEnthusiast

GoAuto.com.au reports that the Ford 4 liter DOHC inline-6 will have a tough time meeting new emissions standards slated for 2013.

This iron-block port fuel injected 6 cylinder engine dates back to 1960 when it was based on the Ford of North America all-iron inline pushrod 6. It’s been modernized several times since then. And it’s found great success in turbocharged form for performance vehicles.

However, it’s heavy, it’s long, and it’s tall. And it’s not emissions or fuel-efficient. And some Australian fans of the engine have an emotional attachment to it – not only for it’s capabilities for also for the fact that it’s built by and for Australians.

The EcoBoost 3.5 liter engine is a cleaner, more efficient, and more space-efficient engine all around. It makes up to 365 HP in it’s first iteration, where it has to be held back due to it’s transverse layout and lack of a transmission strong enough to handle it’s torque output. However, we know a rear wheel drive version is coming late in 2010 and that it’s torque output has been raised considerably. And the engine has not yet adopted the Ti-VCT valvetrain, which will raise power and lower emissions even more. Obviously this engine has far more potential than the old inline 6.

The bigger question is what platform the Australians will have for their large car. Will it be a Taurus, which has been discussed inside Ford and heavily debated by the Australians, or will it be an updated Falcon?

The Taurus is a far more modern platform and is obviously well funded by the parent corporation. However, the Australians have very little experience with all-wheel drive in civilian cars (meaning, outside of Evos and GT-Rs) and there is going to be a customer acceptance issue. And the Taurus is *heavy* – 4,368 pounds in the base SHO form. It’d be nice to see a serious weight-loss program for the Taurus – although that would add to the expense.

The Falcon, on the other hand, has no acceptance issue. What it does have is a funding issue. The current platform is dated and doesn’t compete well from a technical standpoint with it’s Holden competition (seen here in North America as the Pontiac G8 – on a platform shared with the Camaro). A long front overhand leads to a poor weight balance and dynamics. Minimal use of aluminum in the suspension and body results in a heavier car than it needs be – and thus worse mileage, emissions and performance. The addition of the Coyote V-8 (already seen in spy photos) is a temporary band-aid.

So the engine is of secondary concern. The first decision that needs to be made is for a platform for the Falcon. And that’s where it gets interesting – lots of talk about sharing it with the Mustang might make a business case, although the size of the platform is wrong for the Mustang. The current Falcon independent rear suspension had been evaluated for the S197 Mustang and abandoned due to poor geometry and weight – after which a fully aluminum and bulletproof -strength IRS was designed and then put on the shelf due to funding cuts in 2003. It’s still production-ready now and would certainly be a great addition to a future Falcon.

So somewhere deep inside Ford, studies are being conducted and decisions are being made. If there is to be an all- or mostly-new car to replace the Falcon and Mustang in 3 or 4 years, the decision has to be made now. It may even already be made and we haven’t seen hints of it yet in Australian Government or union negotiations (you can always count on a union to spill confidential information). Only time will tell.


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