My wife has banned me from hiring or buying Ford or Holden cars. Since Hertz gets busy around Christmas, they were booked out of Mercedes, Lexus and even the more interesting Toyotas. From what was left, I decided to hire a Ford G6E (it’s the replacement for the Fairlane, kind of like a luxury Falcon variant). To be honest, I was hoping it would be bad all along — not undriveably bad, but bad enough to complain about for a while. It definitely didn’t disappoint in that regard. It’s like a bogan’s attempt at producing a premium product. It misses the bar so badly it’s not even funny.

Starting with the interior, they give you leather seats, but ruin the impression by covering the adjustment mechanism with the cheapest, nastiest-feeling piece of plastic you could imagine. If you’re trying to give the impression of quality, you can’t afford to miss details like this. The seats were pretty uncomfortable, too: no lower back support (had to take a cushion with me), and the headrest is at a stupid angle that makes your neck sore (nothing I could do about that). Speaking of seats, if you’re planning to use a baby seat they only provide an anchor hook for the rear centre seat — if you want to use a side seat, you’ll have to bolt your own anchor hooks in. There’s this stupid glossy strip across the dashboard under the instrument cluster an above the glovebox that seems to serve no purpose other than to annoy the driver and passenger by reflecting the sun into their eyes. The feature list mentions a “sports leather wrapped steering wheel” but it looked and felt like cheap plastic with stitches in it to make it look more like leather. The gear knob was cheap plastic, too. Given a choice, I’d honestly rather a nice leather steering wheel and gear knob than leather seats, since you have your hands there the whole time.

Moving on to the instruments and controls, they seem eager to remind you of what you’re driving — the tacho and speedo are both labelled “G6E” (in case you need to be reminded of what not to buy, I guess). The in-dash display is controlled using buttons on both sides of the instrument cluster. Did no-one stop to think how silly this is? To select what you want displayed you need to alternate which hand you have off the wheel to push the buttons on each side. Surely anyone can see it would have been more sensible to keep all the buttons together, so you can operate it with one hand. The controls for cruise control are poorly thought out, too. A single button is used for cancelling cruise and enabling it with the previous set point. That means the same button, depending on state, could cause the car to coast or accelerate. That’s shocking UI design right there. You need to look down at the dashboard to work out what’s going to happen. Whoever decided the reversing sensors should only give an audible indication should be banned from contributing to vehicle design. When I had a car (not a Ford), I turned the audible indication off altogether, because it’s annoying and less useful than a nice distance display. Also, the reversing camera doesn’t superimpose clearance lines on the display. With the distortion caused by the very wide angle lens, it’s hard to know where everything actually is, and the clearance lines you see when driving a Lexus make it a lot simpler.

It doesn’t feel very pleasant to drive, either. With the shifter in D it feels sluggish and reluctant to go anywhere, but selecting “performance mode” just makes it want to rev out all the time. You really have to use the sequential shift mode if you want the car to be drivable. To make things entertaining, you pull the stick back to shift up, and push forward to shift down — this is the opposite to Lexus, Porsche, Volkswagen, Honda, Hyundai, and probably everyone else. That’s just asking for trouble with people who switch cars, or have to drive their friends’ cars. A smaller issue is that unlike anything else I’ve driven anything approaching recently, you have to push the shift button to shift to neutral (most cars allow you to just push the stick). Strangely, there’s no red line on the tacho, and no shift point indicator (at least not that I noticed). This was quite disconcerting — I like to have a visual guide to a sensible rev range. The gear ratios seem rather odd too, with a very tall top gear that makes the car struggle going up a slight incline at 110 km/h, and gives no useful engine breaking when coasting. The car’s clearly aimed at Australia, so you’d think they’d give you a top gear that’s useful for something besides cruising on a perfectly flat road.

From Thanh’s point of view (she doesn’t drive), it’s a very unpleasant car that she’d rather not have to ride in again. The engine sounds unpleasant, the seats are uncomfortable, the audio and climate controls are confusing, and the ride is horrible. Actually, the ride deserves a proper mention. Whenever you go over a bump, it bounces all over the place. Sometimes you have to wonder if you’re not on a boat. Thanh felt sick on the road from Ballan to Daylesford. She wants to know if Ford has a customer feedback form for complaining about the quality of their cars. Ford’s trying to position the G series as competition for low-end luxury/prestige cars, but they’re completely missing the mark. They’ve focussed on marketable bullet point features, without creating a car that’s pleasant to drive, or even travel in as a passenger. What they have produced is a symbol of bogan pride. It’s big, heavy, highly visible, and completely lacking in refinement.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, 27 December, 2011 at 6:30 PM and is filed under Uncategorised. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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