Falcon EcoBoost Engineered for Australia
Mon, Apr 23, 2012
- Exhaustive local testing to ensure Falcon EcoBoost meets Australia’s harsh climatic conditions
- Cold weather and altitude testing conducted at Mount Hotham with Falcon EcoBoost sedans used in towing tests
- Acoustic windscreen and additional “sound package” measures undertaken to reduce in-cabin noise levels. Underbody “aero” shields to improve fuel efficiency
MELBOURNE, Australia, 23 April, 2012 – The FG Falcon MkII EcoBoost builds on Ford’s global reputation for vehicle dynamics and excellent road manners.
“The FG Falcon MkII provides drivers with precision, agility and confidence in every aspect of their vehicle’s handling performance,” E8 Vehicle Line Director, David Wilkinson, said.
“From the outset we wanted to make sure the EcoBoost would deliver those same handling attributes our customers have come to expect from a Falcon but also, the added benefit of significant gains in fuel economy.
“The Falcon EcoBoost has the cross-country cruising comfort and performance of a large car with the fuel efficiency of a mid-size car.”
Apart from being the perfect fit in the Ford Australia family, the Falcon EcoBoost is the perfect fit for Australian families, Wilkinson said.
Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo, Territory and the all-new Ranger have well-deserved reputations for providing drivers with fun-to-drive vehicles that deliver exactly what they expect at all times, he said.
“The new Falcon EcoBoost improves this even further at a time when consumers are increasingly facing rising fuel costs,” he said.
During its development, Ford’s global high-tech EcoBoost engine went through rigorous local testing to meet the demands expected of Ford customers in Australia, he said.
Ford Australia was also able to access critically important engine testing data undertaken in other EcoBoost markets to ensure the engine was capable of handling the demands of Australian drivers while delivering fuel efficiency.
Apart from engine performance and fuel economy, Falcon EcoBoost models – XT, G6 and G6E – underwent demanding testing to ensure they met the dynamic expectations of Falcon customers familiar with the precision of Ford’s six-cylinder models.
Ford Australia engineers applied the lessons learned from the development of the highly acclaimed FG Falcon range, adapting and enhancing them for the Falcon EcoBoost during its three year development program.
The EcoBoost engine in the Falcon is the first rear-wheel drive application of the engine in Ford’s global EcoBoost family.
Like the FG Falcon six-cylinder, Ford Australia’s engineering teams spent thousands of kilometres behind the wheel of EcoBoost prototypes during exhaustive outback and cold weather testing.
This included repeated cold weather and altitude testing towing a trailer up and down Mount Hotham in Victoria’s high country to ensure the robustness of the drivetrain for local conditions.
“It wasn’t a case of just dropping in an EcoBoost engine into the Falcon body,” Ford Australia powertrain development manager, David Mitchell said.
“This is the first rear-wheel drive application of this technology so there were a number of challenges to ensure it met both Ford Australia’s standards and the standards our customers expect from an engine in a large family sedan.”
Mitchell said durability testing was also critical in the Falcon EcoBoost’s development.
“A great deal of durability work on the engine was done at our You Yangs Proving Ground and at our Geelong Research and Development Centre,” he said.
Early prototype vehicles were also subjected to harsh testing in central Australia as well as extensive hot weather testing in Arizona in the United States.
As part of this development process the vehicle’s air conditioning system was modified to suit the location of the air conditioning compressor on the EcoBoost engine. As well, a high efficiency air conditioning compressor has been installed, along with new liquid lines and electrical circuitry.
As the EcoBoost engine in the FG Falcon MkII is part of a global family, Ford Australia was also able to tap into other testing protocols already performed for overseas markets.
The EcoBoost engine is shared with several Ford vehicles in North America, which enabled Ford Australia to cross-reference North American cold weather testing data from Thompson in Canada.
Dynamics and Noise, Vibration and Harshness
Enhanced engine sound characteristics, reduced in-cabin noise levels and improved exhaust sound quality are just some of the key areas that have been developed for the FG Falcon MkII EcoBoost.
The Falcon chassis underwent specific upgrades to its steering and suspension to accommodate the lighter mass of the EcoBoost engine, according to Vehicle Dynamics Manager, Alex de Vlugt.
During the development program, Ford engineers worked hard to ensure the XT, G6 and G6 EcoBoost models matched the ride and handling expectations of Falcon customers.
“We incorporated several changes associated with the introduction of EcoBoost engine into the Falcon,” de Vlugt said.
“Among them, retuned spring and damper rates, a mass damper on the rear axle, 13mm lower ride height on the XT model and new exhaust system to provide minimum noise intrusion into the cabin.
“Our customers know and love the precise steering and dynamic qualities of the Falcon and we’ve made sure the EcoBoost also has those qualities.”
- Larger diameter front stabiliser bar – 31mm to 32mm (XT)
- 13mm lower ride height (XT)
- G6 fitted with smaller diameter rear stabiliser bar
- Spring and damper rates tuned for both XT and G6 models to improve overall driving experience
- Variable displacement power steering pump
Ensuring the Falcon EcoBoost met and exceeded noise, vibration and harshness targets and overall refinement were also important during the vehicle’s development.
The Falcon EcoBoost benefited from the significant learnings during the development of the SZ Ford Territory TDCi diesel, de Vlugt said.
“The development of the sound package for the EcoBoost incorporated the technology used on the critically acclaimed Territory diesel,” he said.
“One of these developments was the ‘acoustic’ windscreen we used in the Territory. We’ve installed this in our EcoBoost models and it lowers cabin noise levels considerably and that’s an important customer benefit.”
Among the refinements are:
- Optimised outer dash sound package
- Increased inner dashboard insulator thickness
- Increased front floor sound barrier
- Upgraded hood insulator (EcoBoost only)
- Engine cover insulator (EcoBoost only)
- Additional under engine insulator (G6 and G6E only)
- Acoustic windscreen (XT, G6, G6E EcoBoost models only)
- Exhaust system specifically developed for the EcoBoost engine
The acoustic windscreen, combined with the additional sound deadening packaging, significantly cuts down in-car noise levels while underbody “aero” shields help optimise fuel efficiency.
From the outset of the Falcon EcoBoost program, Ford Australia’s Powertrain Development Manager, David Mitchell, had clearly defined targets.
“Critically, the new EcoBoost engine was all about a major improvement in fuel economy but at the same time delivering the performance and refinement Falcon customers expect,” he said.
“The EcoBoost engine also presented challenges in how it was to be adapted into the rear-wheel drive layout of the Falcon. The process is all about making sure the engine is fully integrated into the vehicle.
“This meant that it not only had to meet economy and performance targets but also overall refinement, crash safety, as well as durability and the ability to operate in the extreme hot and cold temperatures Australia experiences.
“Most importantly there was to be no compromise for the customer.
“We want the Falcon EcoBoost to be competitive with the best four-cylinder vehicles in the C/D segment from Japan and Europe but we also want it to be a game changer in the large car segment.”
Among the key challenges was developing a new powertrain mounting system so it was compatible with the existing body structure as well as tuning the engine mounts to match the characteristics of the I-4 engine.
Entirely new engineering solutions were also required for the vehicle’s exhaust, driveline, cooling, air conditioning, electrical and fuel systems.
Falcon EcoBoost models use twin cooling fans for the high-tech direct injection engine while the turbo’s intercooler and associated air ducting has been adapted for the rear-wheel drive engine installation.
“The cooling system on the EcoBoost engine is far more complicated than the I6 system, requiring specific routing and capacity specific to the engine,” Mitchell said.
The engine’s lighter weight also meant developing a new variable displacement power steering pump suitable for the I-4 engine. The Falcon XT EcoBoost is 73.9kg lighter than the equivalent 4.0-litre six-cylinder Falcon XT.
Apart from ensuring the engine and six-speed automatic gearbox are a perfect match, engineers worked to ensure a very linear acceleration response from the EcoBoost’s turbocharger.
“The powertrain is matched to ensure the initial response and the transition to full boost pressure is as linear as possible,” he said.
“We wanted the response to build effortlessly, rather than peak early. We also didn’t want the gearbox to ‘hunt’ through gear changes to find the appropriate one.”
New 16-inch Low Rolling Resistance (LRR) tyres are fitted to the Falcon EcoBoost XT to assist with fuel efficiency as well as provide excellent, grip, comfort and NVH characteristics to offer a smooth and quiet ride.
The new tyre is a 215/60 R16 Goodyear™ Assurance Fuel Max Low Rolling Resistance Tyre.
Tyre pressures have also increased from 33 psi to 38 psi on the EcoBoost XT models to further improve overall fuel efficiency.
Enhanced safety package for FG Falcon MkII range
Since its introduction in 2008, the FG Falcon has been at the forefront of vehicle safety in Australia and the new Falcon EcoBoost matches that claim.
At launch, the FG Falcon set a benchmark for locally-manufactured vehicles as the first Australian-built car to receive the maximum five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
The FG Falcon MkII range improves upon Falcon’s first-class safety package even further, with the addition of side curtain airbags as standard equipment across the sedan range and head/thorax-protecting side airbags as standard equipment across the full Falcon Ute line-up.
Rear parking sensors are also fitted to all Falcon sedan models. Already standard equipment on the luxury G Series range, the reverse sensing system bolsters the extensive list of standard features on Falcon XT, XR6 and XR6 Turbo models.
Using four ultrasonic sensors mounted in the rear bumper, the reverse sensing system assists the driver when reversing into or out of a parking space with an audible warning of obstacles at or near the rear of the vehicle. A graphic is also displayed on the Interior Command Centre (ICC) screen, to supplement the audible warnings.
FG Falcon MkII also includes a new 'Generation 9.0' Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system – incorporating Traction Control (TCS), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) functions – which is coupled with the addition of DSC as standard equipment on the entry-level workhorse Falcon Ute models.