The Road Ahead : December 2012
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB 57 DEC 2012/JAN 2013 THE ROAD AHEAD AUSTRALIA'S BEST CARS MOTORING large under $60,000 ford falcon fg ecoboost g6 large over $60,000 lexus gs350 f sport TRADITIONALISTS MIGHT CRY 'what the!' at the thought of a four-cylinder Falcon being Australia's top large car, but the new Ecoboost is arguably the best, mainstream Falcon ever built. This is why: Engine torque is the key to strong acceleration off the mark and an overall satisfying drive experience, and here the Ecoboost performs as well as the bigger six. The Ecoboost, with its smaller capacity, 2.0-litre, turbocharged engine, develops its maximum torque at just 2000 rpm, way lower than its Falcon siblings' bigger six- cylinder, which maxes out at 3250 rpm. The lighter four-cylinder engine also reduces the Ecoboost's weight by some 109 kg and shifts the mass away from the front axle, improving weight distribution. The result is a Falcon with the ability to turn-in more precisely, and one that is able to handle directional change nearly as well as the smaller Ford models. Ride quality is also good, along with braking ability and smoothness and quietness. The volume-selling G6 spec Ecoboost also scores well for ergonomics, thanks to a larger touch screen, easier to use controls and eight-way, powered adjustment to the front seats, and in the areas of safety, comfort and space. Not surprisingly, it is also better equipped than the base model XT. MLP: $40,835. IN A PRESTIGE class largely dominated by European marques, premium Japanese brand Lexus has taken the win with its new GS350 F Sport. Mid-field scores for pricing and depreciation are made up for by the F Sport's handsome standard features list which includes climate-control airconditioning, tyre pressure monitors, 19" alloys, active cruise control, leather trim, adaptive bi-xenon headlights and digital radio. Ditto 10 airbags, a pre-collision safety system, alarm, navigation system and moon-roof. The F Sport's ergonomics score highly, thanks to well- positioned controls and inclusion of features such as paddle shifters, a head-up display showing speed and other important driving information, a blind spot monitoring system, and reversing camera. The heated and cooled front seats offer excellent support and adjustability, with wrap-in bolsters and cushion extension a feature. Lexus claim the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 is good for 233 kW and 378 Nm. Our testing showed it's a real gem, offering strong response and performance. Vehicle dynamics are also first class, thanks to standard sport suspension plus dynamic rear-wheel steering and selection modes to customise the power-train and suspension settings. MLP: $99,400. SCORES SCORES TOTAL: 1114. 2nd: Toyota Aurion AT-X, 1090. 3rd: Peugeot 508 Allure, 1088. CRITERIA (OUT OF 10): VALUE FOR MONEY: Pricing 8H, Depreciation 7H , Running Costs 9H , Fuel consumption 5H , Warranty 5H , Insurance 7L, Standard features 4H . DESIGN & FUNCTION: Safety 9C, Environment 7C, Comfort 9C, Space 9C, Practicality 7H, Ergonomics 9M, Build & finish 7H. ON THE ROAD: Performance 9H, Ride 9H, Handling 8H, Braking 8H, Smoothness & quietness 9M. TOTAL : 1124. 2nd: Audi A6 3.0TDI Quattro, 1086. 3rd: BMW 5 Series 520i, 1080. CRITERIA (OUT OF 10): VALUE FOR MONEY: Pricing 6M, Depreciation 6M, Running Costs 9L, Fuel consumption 2M, Warranty 5H, Insurance 5L, Standard features 9H. DESIGN & FUNCTION: Safety 10C, Environment 8C, Comfort 9C, Space 6H, Practicality 7M, Ergonomics 9C, Build & finish 9C. ON THE ROAD: Performance 10H, Ride 9C, Handling 10H, Braking 9H, Smoothness & quietness 8C. LEVEL OF WEIGHTING IMPORTANCE FOR EACH SCORE: L = LOW, M = MEDIUM, H = HIGH, C = CRITICAL.