Once it ruled with a 5-litre V8; for a long time now the mainstay engine has been a 4-litre six - and now it's coming out strong as a 2-litre four.
Yes, strong. What sounds like a story of sad decline could yet become a tale of against-the-odds defiance, resurrection perhaps. Assuming core customers buy into it.
Ford is confident the merits of the first four-cylinder Falcon in the model's 50-plus-year history will settle concerns and prejudices about this being a mismarriage.
Look at falling Falcon sales and rising fuel prices and you see why a four is seen as a good fit for a bid to reclaim fleet sales, hence an XT-headed push here.
The engine's main attraction is that it uses up to 18% less fuel than the six selling for the same price, with lower emissions and without too much trade-off in performance.
True, the pull is good enough to show why this mill goes into 13 Fords worldwide, including two much heavier than the Falcon, Europe's Galaxy MPV and America's Explorer SUV. The power and peak torque are 16kW and 38Nm off the six's maximums and torque is generous, beating the Holden Commodore and Toyota's Aurion.
But a six sub?
Well, it works harder - at 100kmh in top, this tacho shows 1800rpm against 1200rpm from the six. While in cruise it seems refined and confident, drive assertively and the Falcon's familiar ZF auto (reprogrammed) will move busily and engine noise grows considerably.
Claimed overall consumption of 8.1 litres per 100km - less than some mid-size cars - seems to trounce the six (9.9) and the result of a 350km day at open-road speed was a 7.2L/100km average. But the six-cylinder along for comparison was also working beyond the call and generally was no worse than 0.5L/100km behind.
Enough of a gap?
Ford assures us that if we were running in town, the four would win handsomely.
Under-bonnet changes are extensive, and to cater for the 74kg lower front-end weight, there is a larger front stabiliser bar and retuned springs and dampers.
Ford says the overall balance is almost the same, but it feels less nose-heavy and turns in more eagerly, on dodgy rain-slick bends.
Ford has introduced a similar interior rejig, with Bluetooth and MP3 integrations. The XT has reverse parking sensors, cruise control, climate air, six airbags and stability control.
It is still comfy and roomy but fails to feel fully modern. The lack of a stop-start function shows the limit of Ford's spend. It is surely telling that the most popular Falcon, the XR6, is untouched and some will lament Ford not chasing eco solutions with the Territory's diesel engine.
FORD FALCON ECOBOOSTPrice: $48,490.
Engine: 1999cc turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder petrol, max power 179kW@5500rpm, max torque 353Nm@2000rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Brakes and stability systems: Disc, ABS, DSC, EBD, EBA.
Wheels, tyres: 215/60 R16.
Fuel and economy: 8.1 litres per 100km (on ADR combined cycle), capacity 58 litres AWD, 56 litres FWD.
Dimensions: Length 4965mm, width 1868mm, height 1488mm.
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