The 2012 Ford Falcon XR6 gets a midlife facelift, but is the improvement only skin deep? We jump into the XR6 MKII with all the options ticked to find out.
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII – PROS AND CONS
- New front end styling
- Torquey engine
- ZF six-speed automatic gearbox is a peach to use
- Updated multimedia and sound system is much better than the previous unit
- Console layout not intuitive
- Rough but durable interior trim
- Multimedia system responds slowly
- Poor fuel consumption
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII OVERVIEW
The Blue Oval’s bread and butter FG XR6 has been brought up to the date by the boffins at Ford, fitting it with an eight-inch Interior Command Centre (ICC) multimedia touch screen, and new sleek front-end styling that matches other fresh models in the Ford showroom.
Power comes from the same 4.0-litre naturally aspirated straight-six engine as seen in the MkI, and the current base model XT. It produces 195kW and 391Nm. Although it can be matched up to a sporty six-speed manual, our test car features the optional six-speed auto.
Prices start at $39,990 for the manual, and $40,990 for the automatic.
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII – ENGINE SOUND AND 0-100KM/H ACCELERATION VIDEO
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII – ACCOMMODATION AND EQUIPMENT
The XR6 has always been a fantastic highway mile muncher, allowing five adults to travel interstate in comfort. However, with phones, computers and other techno gadgetry updated continuously, it was time for the XR6 to start packing some electronic toys to keep up with the times.
The XR6 now comes standard with the Interior Command Centre; an eight-inch colour touch-screen that controls most of the media functions, from music and radio control to Bluetooth phone connectivity, as well as becoming the screen for the reverse sensors (or for the optional camera, as in our test car).
The multimedia unit also allows USB integration, so you can plug in your iPhone or an USB flash drive and play songs from it. Although the new multimedia touchscreen and updated cluster is a modern touch, we found its user interface a bit clunky and slow to respond. It is a lot better than the previous system Ford offered.
The seats in the front and back are of course large and comfortable. There’s definitely no shortage in legroom or headroom, whatever seat you’re travelling in.
Other features for the XR6 over the XT include 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, and a neat bodykit with front and rear spoilers. The cabin is also dressed up with sporty ‘XR’ seats with passenger lumbar adjustment (not featured on the XT), alloy pedals, and a sports leather-wrapped steering wheel.
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII – DESIGN AND SAFETY
While the exterior changes to the XR6 MKII may look mild, it is a design update that makes the first FG models look prehistoric. The projector headlamps and the sleek front bar with a wider, Mondeo/Focus ST-like lower grille give the XR6 MKII a handsome face. The rear lights have been updated too for a more distinguished look.
Inside, Ford has stuck with the odometer controls on either side of the speedometer, a quaint touch that all Falcons have. However, we found that the steering wheel gets in the way and it would be far more user friendly to have the buttons on the steering wheel.
The console has also been prettied up with some lashings of silver and grey plastics. While the seat material is definitely hard wearing and easy to wash, the cabin materials still remind you of a taxi a little bit. The ‘XR’ embroidery on the seats helps to rid that thought.
The XR6 MKII comes equipped with six airbags, four for the front passengers and a curtain airbag on each side. The chassis is equipped with electronic aids like ABS, stability control, emergency brake assist, and traction control. It even has a fatigue warning system, reminding drivers to rest after long periods of continuous driving. All these safety features have helped the XR6 gain a five-star rating from ANCAP.
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII – ON THE ROAD
There’s no disguising the fact that the XR6 is a very big car, and it behaves accordingly on the road. Daily driving is stress free, as the cabin isolates you well from bumps and noise despite the sporty suspension. On the highway, just hit cruise control and you’ll reach your destination in no time and fatigue free.
Take it to the windy roads though, and the extra bulk immediately shows itself. There is some body roll that may induce nervousness, but the rear independent suspension allows the XR6 to stay planted and predictable.
Once we got comfortable with the Falcon, hustling it through corners with the traction control off became fun, with the ZF six-speed, our willing accomplice, holding onto gears and downshifting with gusto. The transmission may be an ‘old-school’ torque convertor type, but considering this price bracket, it’s a commendable piece of machinery. It’s smooth and known to be quite strong and trouble-free as well.
We feel the ZF transmission is certainly a worthy option box to tick, despite the $1000 premium, as it swaps cogs lightning quick, and with the Sequential Sports Shift option, you can always take over the transmission reins yourself. We didn’t really find the need though, as the ZF seems to have telepathy, reading our minds and shifting gears just when we expected it to. It intelligently senses when you are holding the throttle down through a corner and doesn’t change up a gear when you are banging on the rev limiter, if that is your intention.
The noise of the straight six is sonorous and addictive. With measured throttle inputs the XR6’s new wider rear rubbers can be persuaded to handle all 195kW without any dramas. The FG chassis has been excellent all these years and is a proven platform that can handle more power.
Go over the limit of the rear tyres though, and it will behave exactly as you thought a big cruisey Falcon would. The long wheelbase provides enough time to catch the slide, but winding on enough lock is tricky thanks to the inertia of the near two-tonne mass.
You won’t find many places to drive it enthusiastically either; the XR6 takes up so much space on the road, it takes some getting used to before you can throw it about like a master. Even threading it through tight city streets can, at times, be tough. When you find the right place though, the powertrain and suspension dish out a lot of fun.
The official fuel consumption figures are 9.9L/100km, but we averaged 12.7L/100km. The big, lusty straight-six might be easier on the wallet with Ford’s LPG option, the EcoLPi. Nonetheless, the engine pulls like a freight train, and when paired up with the optional ZF six-speed automatic gearbox, the power delivery is relentless. We’re sure you could get our real world economy figure down a lot lower if you were a regular highway driver.
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII – THE VERDICT
As a model plugging the gap between the XT and the more full-on XR6 Turbo, the XR6 is an excellent choice for those who want a sporty looking family sedan with good handling performance.
The extra toys and features over the Falcon XT are also great, especially considering the XR6 is only $3755 more. When it comes time to tell, the XR6 will also hold its value a lot better.
While the 4.0-litre inline six engine is a barrel of fun and more, using over 10L/100km in fuel just isn’t practical these days, especially with rising fuel prices. Aside from the belting XR6 Turbo, the LPG direct injection and the EcoBoost variants are definitely the ones to go for in our opinion, if you’re after a large daily driver. They are also the ones we all need to buy to help keep the Ford Falcon alive in the years to come.
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII – THE COMPETITORS
HOLDEN COMMODORE SV6 –3.6-litre naturally aspirated V6, 210kW/350Nm – 1665kg (Automatic) – $43,790
The XR6’s eternal rival, the Commodore SV6 has also been updated with touchscreen multimedia options, more power and a very restrained, sleek look. It is a bit more expensive than the XR6, but for the diehard Lion lovers, it’s nothing.
TOYOTA AURION ZR6 – 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 cylinder, 200kW/336Nm – 1555kg (Automatic) – $40,990
The ZR6 comes with a ton of options, and looks suitably mean with 200kW at its disposal. Toyota’s reliability can be counted on, but those front wheels can’t handle all its power.
2012 FORD FALCON XR6 MKII –SPECIFICATIONS
2012 Ford Falcon XR6 MKII
4.0-litre naturally aspirated inline six
ENGINE SIZE (cc) / COMPRESSION RATIO
3984cc / 10:3
BORE X STROKE (mm)
92.26mm X 99.31mm
POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO
8.36 : 1 (kg:kW)
HEIGHT / WIDTH / LENGTH
1433mm / 1868mm / 4970mm
ZF six-speed auto transmission
F: Ventilated discs
R: Solid discs
WHEELS / TYRES
F and R: 18- x 8-inch, 245/40 R16
FUEL TANK CAPACITY
Tested average: 12.7L/km
Official average: 9.9L/km
0-100km/h: 6.8 seconds (tested)