EcoBoost Falcon - clipped wings or a flyer?

20:45, Nov 07 2011

Falcon fans, you could be in for a rather pleasant surprise next year. The large car's new engine, part of the EcoBoost family, may be pint-sized compared with the aging 4.0-litre in-line six, but it should be far from feeble.

It uses direct fuel injection and turbocharging, and should generate almost as much power and torque as the long-lived six (177kW/360Nm to the current car's 195kW/391Nm tally). However, it promises to use around 20 per cent less fuel overall (8.0L/100km compared with 10.0L/100km from the existing 4.0L engine). That's largely because its full helping of torque is on tap from around 2000rpm, whereas peak torque with the current engine arrives at 3250rpm.

Displacement downsizing helps too: improved efficiency results from reduced internal friction, lower pumping losses, and lighter weight. With less mass over the front axle, the new Falcon should also change direction more readily. In essence, you can probably expect similar on-road performance from this Mighty Mouse mill, and economy around one-fifth better.

EcoBoost should give Falcon a proper leg up against rival Commodore, even if its vastly reduced engine size suddenly robs it of pub bragging rights. The prospect of driving a 2.0L four-cylinder Falcon probably scares many, if not most, existing Falcon owners. Is this a case of displacement downsizing gone doolally?

After spending a week driving the top Mondeo, the Titanium, which is powered by a low-pressure version of the 2L EcoBoost that the Falcon will get, I think there's every indication that Falcon's new mill will be at least the equal of the outgoing engine. With a new six-speed twin-clutch transmission, it could even outperform it.

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The base 149kW 2.0L EcoBoost in Mondeo easily bests the normally aspirated 2.3L engine by a difference that's a gulf. Compare a mis-hit off the tee that costs you a whisky at the 19th with the best drive you've nailed on the round; it's the same here, and it is also a drive that puts a smile on your face and has you coming back for more.

Despite the loss of 300cc in displacement, Mondeo's new 2.0L turbowhizz produces 44 per more torque, up from 208 to 300Nm. With the normally aspirated 2.3L engine, peak pulling power arrives at 4200rpm but with the EcoBoost mill, all that torque is on tap from 1750-4500rpm. That means that for well over 90 per cent of all driving situations, full force torque is available without exceeding middling revs. Performance is boosted hugely, and from being one of the lamest middleweights, it's now one of the hastiest. This make it much safer for risky manoeuvres, like overtaking.

Ford quotes overall lab test fuel economy figures of 8.0L/100km and CO2 emissions of 187g/km. That depends largely on how you drive it; we recorded about 9.5L/100km on a trip and 11.0L/100km in town with no real concession to economy.

The point here is don't prejudge on engine size alone; modern small engines can be wicked good, and the Falcon's four might just be the little engine that could. We bet that when it arrives in the first quarter, the EcoBoost Falcon won't be some flightless lame duck with clipped wings, but a proper flyer.