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Ford Australia has introduced a host of new features and systems to improve overall vehicle refinement on the all-new FG Falcon range.
Enhanced engine sound character, improved exhaust sound quality, lower wind noise levels and reduced cabin noise levels are just some of the key areas that have been developed with the evolution to a new, eighth generation Falcon range.
"The all-new FG Falcon represents significant advances in key areas of vehicle refinement, from enhancing desired engine and exhaust sounds, to reducing driveline, wind and road noise," Ford Australia Vice President Product Development, Trevor Worthington said.
"Customers will notice and appreciate the exceptional levels of quietness and comfort that have been achieved with this vehicle from the moment they sit inside and turn the ignition key.
"It delivers a refined and assured driving experience while maintaining the Falcon hallmarks of outstanding dynamics, performance and driveability."
Advances in computer-aided engineering (CAE) have enabled significant improvements in the reduction and control of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) to be achieved with the new model, producing the quietest and most refined Falcon ever conceived by Ford Australia."Vehicle refinement is all about addressing the magnitude, quality and balance of the complete set of acoustic and tactile sensations experienced by the customer during normal vehicle operation," Ford Australia NVH Development Manager, Michael Stellamanns said.
"With the new FG Falcon, the Vehicle Refinement team has employed the latest CAE processes and technologies, correlated against real test data, to maximise vehicle harmony across key NVH areas and bring to market a vehicle with outstanding levels of refinement."
Significant developments to the 4.0-litre I6 and I6 Turbo engines, which have delivered increases in power and torque, have also produced significant improvements in refinement and noise attenuation.
Manifold geometry not only governs engine power, torque and efficiency, but also governs the sound quality emitted from the intake orifice.
The architecture of the new dual plenum composite intake manifold on the I6 engine has been optimised to produce a powerful yet refined engine sound.
"Special focus was placed on the detailed design of structural ribbing to strengthen critical surfaces, which reduces the occurrence of higher frequency noise, while at the same time emphasising lower frequency orders for a more powerful sound character," Stellamanns said.
"The split-plenum geometry and manifold volume also emphasise the engine firing order and primary harmonics at the throttle, which contributes to the more powerful sound character of the latest generation I6 engine."
Further engine sound refinement has occurred through the application of four Air Intake System resonators and a flow resistance optimised acoustic venturi in the air cleaner box.
All have been specially tuned to remove intake system resonance noise at the throttle orifice and to add sporty intake sound character.
To produce optimum power and torque outputs, the airbox and air ducts are designed to maximise air flow, however, a higher air flow also causes more noise generation within the intake system.
On FG Falcon, the airbox and intake duct surfaces have been stiffened and ribbed to minimise transmission of air flow noise through surfaces and walls, while the four resonators were additionally tuned to effectively remove intake system resonance noise.
"The result for the customer is a quieter and more refined vehicle interior, further removed from unwanted noises, while maintaining a sporty engine character and the sound that a customer does want to hear," Stellamanns said.
On the I6 Turbo engine, the turbocharger intake manifold has also been revised to reduce back pressure and produce a powerful yet refined sound quality, while a revised exhaust system with tuned exhaust mufflers has improved the sporty exhaust note.
"All FG Falcon's are also fitted with a new power steering system that is both quieter and more consistent," Stellamanns said.
"A new, quieter aluminium power steering pump is equipped with new hoses, featuring internal tuners designed to eliminate flow fluctuations and pressure ripples that generate steering noise."
A new cross car instrument panel beam and new steering column have reduced steering wheel vibration at idle.
"The strengthened and stiffened cross car beam increases the separation between inherent steering system vibrational modes and engine excitation at idle," Stellamanns added.
A revised engine mounting system for the FG Falcon engine range, incorporating new hydraulic engine mounts, delivers significant refinement benefits, including a smoother ride and reduced cabin noise levels for easier in-vehicle conversations.
The new engine mounts deliver a smoother ride through more effective powertrain mass damping at low frequencies, while also improving powertrain and vehicle refinement courtesy of better engine isolation at high frequencies.
Other powertrain refinements include:
Semi Active Muffler
The introduction of the Boss 290 engine to the XR8 is complemented by a revised exhaust system with an all-new Semi Active Muffler (SAM).
"The SAM valve affords the vehicle occupants a 'best of both worlds' driving experience with a truly great sounding exhaust," Stellamanns said.
"For many XR8 customers a significant part of the car's appeal is the way it sounds, whether it's that distinctive burble at idle or the unique, spine-tingling note a V8 produces at wide open throttle, and this new system certainly delivers on both counts."
Typically, SAM valves have been the exclusive domain of high-priced, sports cars such as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and Jaguar XK8, which both employ similar systems.
The semi-active muffler system on the XR8 is a first for the Australian auto industry in a locally-manufactured vehicle and delivers a best-in-class sound quality with an unsurpassed, sporty V8 exhaust note.
The SAM comprises a cylindrical valve that is mounted on the muffler end-plate protruding inside the intermediate muffler, which opens and closes to change the vehicle's exhaust sound characteristics.
At low engine speeds (low rpm), the spring loaded valve remains closed, forcing the exhaust gasses to pass through a series of baffles in the intermediate muffler.
At higher engine speeds (above 2800 rpm) the exhaust gas pressure opens the valve, offering an alternate path for the exhaust gasses to pass through the muffler.
As a result the SAM provides a quiet internal cabin environment at idle and low engine speeds, while allowing a full, throaty V8 sound quality to be appreciated at higher engine speeds.
Heading the list of wind noise and body sealing developments on the new FG Falcon is the use of a single-piece body side (SPBS) panel, which improves body tolerances, leading to improved door fit and margins.
A first for Ford in Australia, the application of a single piece stamping for the entire body side reduces the part-to-part tolerances in the body stamping and assembly processes normally encountered with multiple body side components.
Door seal gaps and margin tolerances are also improved, delivering lower wind noise levels and a reduced sensitivity to cross winds and gusts, as well as better door closing efforts.
The single piece body side incorporates a new, industry best practice door design, with doors fully 'inset' into the body side for reduced wind noise and better noise attenuation performance under cross wind conditions.
"With the new inset door design, all door seals are completely hidden to the oncoming air stream and seal contact is maintained under all driving and cross wind conditions," Stellamanns said.
"The use of computer aided engineering has delivered new door seals with good load compression rate and consistent performance around the door perimeters.
"Two door bulb seals, plus margin filler seals, provide an industry best practice three-seal arrangement on the new FG Falcon, which reduces wind noise levels for the customer appreciably."
New door hinges utilise a new locating pin for improved door fit tolerances and more consistent door closing efforts, while a complete re-design of the glass run weather strips on the doors has delivered a reduction in the air leakage paths around the glass.
"As turbulent air flow generates wind noise, which can be transmitted through the side glass into the cabin, we've also reduced the side glass offset to the pillars to keep the generation of turbulent air flow as low as possible," said Stellamanns.
The new A-pillar on FG Falcon has been aerodynamically developed using extensive wind tunnel testing to ensure airflow turbulence, as well as aerodynamic drag, is minimised.
"Reducing turbulence in the air flow as it passes over the A-pillar is crucial to delivering low wind noise levels," Stellamanns said.
"The exterior mirror head shape has also been optimised to ensure the trailing wake of air flow is directed downwards and outboard, away from the door glass."
Not only does the new exterior mirror design generate lower levels of turbulence and aerodynamic drag, transmitting less noise through the door glass, but the mirrors are also larger, giving customers better side and rear visibility.
Also part of the refinement package are new windscreen wiper arms, which are located in an effective aerodynamic bubble below the high velocity airflow over the vehicle, so less drag and turbulence are generated thereby reducing wind noise over the wipers.
"Through the use of computational fluid dynamics, we were able position the wiper arms so that they were aerodynamically hidden through the upstream, which reduced wind noise being transferred onto the windscreen and potentially transmitted into the cabin," Stellamanns said.
Further refinements have been made to the new Falcon through improvements to body sealing and sound packaging.
Upgraded static sealing of the body has delivered benefits by way of reduced engine, wind and road noise.
Air leakage paths can allow for sound propagation from the vehicle exterior to be transmitted into the cabin, however, upgraded body sealing on all FG models has provided better cabin insulation from the road, wind, engine and transmission.
The dash, floor and boot sound package material, which ensures insulation against noise entering into the cabin, has been optimised and increased on all models to reduce interior noise levels – particularly high frequency noise, for improved cabin refinement.
A significant upgrade to dash panel pass through sealing has reduced the transmission of engine noise, improving sound quality and refinement in the cabin so the customer will be less noise fatigued during driving.
Close attention has been paid to the acoustic sealing of pass through of the dash – i.e. heater and air conditioning pipes, cables, wiring and the pedal box – resulting in a substantial upgrade in dash sound attenuation and robustness.
In addition to improved control of pass through sealing, overall dash panel noise performance was raised by increasing the thickness of the inner dash insulator, delivering greater noise reduction performance.
"The front floor sound barrier has also been increased by extending the floor insulator under the front carpet further rearward," Stellamanns said.
"The result is better overall noise performance of the floor system, providing a reduction in transmission, exhaust and road noise."
Additional sound package developments include:
Wheels and tyres across the new Falcon range have been specially tuned to suit specific models in the FG line-up, contributing to the reduction in road noise.
The new alloy wheels available on FG Falcon are stiffer than before, having been designed using CAE to ensure a combination of light weight with high strength and stiffness, which contributes to reduced road noise.
The new tyre and tread pattern designs have been developed to reinforce the high level of driving quality evident across the FG Falcon range, providing excellent grip, comfort and NVH levels, resulting in a smoother, quieter ride.
The new Goodyear Eagle Excellence tyre on the Falcon XT has been designed specifically for Ford Australia – it is also the first time the Excellence pattern has been used on a Falcon model other than the luxury Fairmont Ghia.
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