Home Run for the Ultimate In-Line Six
Ford is seizing the high-technology lead in Australian engines with the launch of the new BA Falcon, adding a four-valve double overhead camshaft cylinder head and dual VCT to all I6 engines.
182kW base engine
240kW Turbo XR6 engine
New DOHC 24-valve head with dual VCT
Thorough redesign of I6 motor from top to bottom
“What Ford had in mind for this engine was the ultimate I6. The engine really has everything in terms of technology and features: it has the right number of camshafts and valves, it’s got the phasers, it's got everything you’d want in a top of the line engine.”
“One of the biggest moments was when we ran the first engine on the dyno. It started, and ran and delivered in terms of performance. It was reliable and we didn’t have any issues with it. It ran and ran and ran through all our tests.
“In baseball terms it was a home run.” said Dave Mitchell, Engine Design Supervisor
Engineering priorities for the Barra 182 I6 upgrade included boosting performance and reducing NVH.
The variable camshaft timing technology has been expanded to add infinitely variable camshaft adjustment within a 60-degree range (previously it was a fixed two stage variation). There is a VCT phaser on each of the two camshafts.
The engine, which remains at 4.0-litres capacity, now produces class-leading 182kW of power and 380 Nm of torque.
Its torque spread is extremely generous across the entire operating range and is lifted to 6000rpm, well in excess of its predecessor.
For XR6 models a turbo-charged version – the Barra 240T – is available for the first time, producing 240kW and 450Nm, assuring XR6 of class dominance.
The four-valve head and dual VCT is a significant upgrade, but there’s more.
The entire engine has been revised with new combustion chambers and port design, the adoption of coil-on-plug ignition, a single chain drive for the camshafts, electronic ‘drive-by-wire’ throttle control and a crank-mounted oil pump.
The results are improved power and torque, lower fuel consumption, cleaner emissions and better suppression of noise, vibration and harshness levels.
The engine note has improved, thanks to better top-end smoothness, while inlet and exhaust manifold noise has been reduced.
All petrol engines in the Barra family now feature failsafe-cooling protection (previously restricted to I6 engines)
The XR6 turbocharged and intercooled engine produces a stunning 240kW.
Tickford's engineers were tasked with the challenge of increasing low speed torque and reducing turbo lag, to provide an exhilarating driving experience.
The result is an engine that provides maximum torque of 450Nm from 2000 rpm through to 4500 rpm.
The bountiful low-down torque is achieved via a boost pressure of 6psi.
The turbocharger employed on the Falcon XR6 Turbo engine is the aptly named Garrett GT40, mounted off a cast stainless steel exhaust manifold.
For increased durability the turbo uses engine oil-lubricated and water-cooled bearings and the latest ball bearing technology.
An electronic single by-pass wastegate controls boost pressure accurately and reliably to achieve maximum torque through to 4500rpm.
Given Australia’s elevated ambient summer temperatures and the need to maintain reliable performance, the new turbo unit uses an air-to-air intercooler to increase the density of air reaching the inlet manifold.
The intercooler regulates the temperature of the charged air to maintain boost pressure and power and torque outputs, even under extremely high ambient operating temperatures.
Within the engine there are new pistons and piston rings, while the compression ratio is lowered to 8.7:1.
Higher temperature tolerant exhaust valves are incorporated and fuel delivery pressure is raised to 4 bar.
I6 Engine: All the Changes
Standard dual variable camshaft timing across the range
Double overhead camshafts
Electronic Throttle Control
Turbocharged I6 option for XR6
New crank-mounted oil pump
Coil-on-plug ignition system
Internal exhaust gas recirculation to help meet Euro II emissions
Upgraded Powertrain Control Module
BA Falcon’s new Barra 182 I6 engine boasts class-leading power and torque, advanced electronic and mechanical improvements and benefits from a stringent weight control program.
Driveability is substantially improved over the previous unit thanks to power and torque increases and the addition of new dual variable camshaft timing. This results in a fatter, flatter torque curve with more grunt through the entire rev range.
The rev limit has been raised to 6000rpm (from 5700rpm) to benefit from the extra top end power permitted by the new cylinder head arrangement.
Increasing the rev limit has allowed greater exploitation of the improved top-end power thanks to the four-valve double overhead camshaft configuration, while bottom-end grunt improves thanks to the adoption of infinitely variable camshaft timing.
Ford Australia benefited from Ford’s global engine expertise by plugging into best practice processes as well as using Ford Motor Company’s advanced computer aided engineering facilities in the United States.
Much work was undertaken to fine-tune the inlet path and cylinder head design to maximise output and efficiency.
The dual variable camshaft timing is one of the first applications of this technology in the Ford world.
The oil pump mounted on the front of the crank was specifically designed to meet Falcon’s needs, with its high rev limit.
Dual VCT phasers
BA Falcon introduces dual infinitely variable camshaft timing, one of the first applications of this technology across the Ford world.
The aim of the system is to boost torque at any rpm position.
In addition to the improved performance across a broad rev range, there is a noticeable decrease in fuel consumption, especially at part throttle.
At cruise on highway, where throttle openings are reduced, the system is able to retard the timing by as much as 50 degrees.
This cuts fuel consumption as well as providing internal exhaust gas recirculation that helps lower tailpipe emissions.
At idle, the camshaft is advanced by 10 degrees for smoother running.
Camshaft variation of 60-degrees allows the four-valve engine to provide plenty of low down torque. Traditionally four-valve engines demonstrate a strong top end but suffer from a weak bottom end. Thanks to the dual VCT system, the Falcon I6 provides purposeful torque from very low revs.
The transition through the 60-degree advance/retard range is seamless, unlike some less advanced systems where there is a defined point at which one or other program takes effect.
The amount of adjustment is determined by comparing the position of the camshaft with a pre-mapped calibration.
Each camshaft on the I6 engine is fitted with a camshaft phaser that allows up to 60-degrees of variation, depending on engine load. The variation is activated via oil-pressure acting against the phaser.
An oil control valve is fitted on top of each camshaft phaser for immediate response and better reliability. Both control valves are activated simultaneously by impulses received from the Powertrain Control Module.
Mounting the oil control valve within the cylinder head removes the need for separate oil ways and offers greater durability and reliability, as well as packaging efficiencies and weight savings.
To ensure perfect seating of the camshafts, the four VCT oil control galley plates are bolted to the top of the cylinder head before the galleys for the camshafts are bored.
Each of the four galley plates is unique so they cannot be mismatched during in-field service. The galley plates locate on dowels sunk into the head for perfect positioning every time.
Internal Exhaust Gas Recirculation
Exhaust gas recirculation is a new and important feature of the I6 engine. It helps reduce the amount of unburned hydrocarbons leaving the tailpipe, and helps the Barra Falcon I6 engine meet stringent Euro II emission limits well ahead of their implementation in Australia.
In combination with the electronics used by the dual VCT system, the internal EGR system allows for the late closing of the exhaust valve on the downward induction stroke, which sucks back some of the unburned exhaust gas from the extractors.
This mixes with the fresh incoming petrol/air charge, reducing fuel consumption.
Using the VCT management system to provide the late closing of the exhaust valve removes the need for a bolt–on external EGR system, saving weight and cost.
The new aluminium cylinder head is cast using a best practice gravity casting method in place of the former low-pressure die-casting method.
On arrival at Ford in Geelong, it is finish machined in the totally revamped, multi-million dollar head machining operations area.
The cylinder head is about 50 per cent stiffer than the previous unit. This allows a new, thinner single layer steel (SLS) sheet metal gasket to be used.
The cylinder head is taller and more complex thanks to double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and the positioning of the oil control valves for the dual VCT atop the camshafts.
Evaluation and development work on the cylinder head was done both in Australia and within Ford in the United States.
Previously cast iron, the new DOHC I6 items are now roll forged to cope with the higher loads of the increase rev limit. The centres are bored out to save weight, which also helps durability for the increased rev limit.
A simplex rather than duplex chain now drives the camshafts. This saves weight, improves NVH and allows for more compact packaging.
Duratec-style finger followers are employed between camshaft lobes and valve stems because they are the most friction efficient and modern method of valve control.
The standard Duratec design has been improved for application on Falcon with the addition of a clip to hold the lash adjuster to the rocker for improved reliability.
The valve train is lighter than before but the weight saving is offset by the doubling of components thanks to the four-valve arrangement.
Valves have a domed head and no lip, to limit tumble in chamber as well as provide good seating. For dedicated LPG engines the valves and valve seats are hardened.
The valve train geometry is derived from an American specification V-engine with inclined cylinder heads. For use on the Falcon I6, the coolant and oil passageways were redesigned using computer-aided engineering.
The valves are sized for maximum volumetric efficiency. A special computer program was utilised to analyse efficiency and identify the optimal power and torque spread at all load speeds.
Coil on plug
Switching to a coil-on-plug system removes the need for high-tension leads, boosting reliability and durability of the ignition system.
The coil-on-plug set-up also provides more power to the spark plug, while the absence of a distributor pack on the engine saves weight and improves exterior packaging appearance.
Long-life plugs are located in the centre of the combustion chamber roof between the four valves.
The complete reworking of the cylinder head for Barra required a totally new water jacket.
Ford’s engineers spent much time and effort to create a new flow map for the coolant within the cylinder head, using advanced computational fluid dynamics modelling to avoid hotspots and to ensure a rapid movement of coolant through the head.
Heat management studies revealed the need to insert deflection vanes to squeeze coolant past hotspots - such as exhaust valve seats - at higher velocities in order to provide as even a spread of temperature across the head as possible.
The result of the CFD work is a 30 per cent decrease in the volume of coolant required, which gives a faster warm-up rate and a concurrent reduction in weight. The more even operating temperature, coupled with the increased stiffness of the head, will enhance durability levels still further.
The main cooling radiator features a higher capacity, higher efficiency alloy core.
The compression ratio of the new I6 engine is raised from 9.65:1 to 9.7:1, while the dedicated LPG engine compression ratio has been elevated still further to benefit fuel consumption even more. It now runs at 10.7:1, a significant rise from the previous engine’s 9.65:1 level.
This translates to better fuel consumption from the same spark.
The combustion chamber design was modified to accommodate the four valve head and centrally mounted spark plug.
Engineers on both sides of the Pacific worked to reduce in-cylinder tumble for more efficient burn and to reduce combustion harshness that sometimes becomes apparent at high revs.
The inlet ports in the cylinder head were modified to provide significantly higher flow coefficients compared with the previous engine, even before accounting for the four-valve advantages.
As inlet tract volumetric efficiency increases, so too does peak power and breathing across the rev range.
Powertrain Control Module
The BA Falcon’s main computer has been substantially upgraded.
Faster, and capable of far higher numbers of calculations, the PCM now has to integrate new systems such as the Electronic Throttle Control, dual VCT and cruise control, as well as fuel injection and automatic gearbox gear shift integration.
A new generation knock control strategy has been developed for the Barra I6 engine to prevent the potentially harmful effects of detonation as well as to cope with variable fuel quality.
It is activated across the entire rev range.
Advantages for customers are enhanced if they run on Premium Unleaded fuel. Increased spark advance means more power and greater consumption benefits without the risk of detonation.
Electronic Throttle Control
The advanced BA Falcon swoops in with jet fighter derived fly-by-wire engine control offering many driver benefits.
Drive-by-wire has been adopted by many state-of–the-art European luxury cars. It was developed in the aviation industry where its reliability and durability was proven under arduous operating conditions.
BA’s adoption of Electronic Throttle Control leads the Australian market. It's the first locally made car to feature such high technology.
Drive-by-wire is fitted as standard to all BA models. It provides precision control of acceleration, helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and doubles as the cruise control actuation system, saving weight and improving NVH.
It also allows seamless integration and activation of the dual VCT system by being able to monitor exact throttle openings.
BA ETC uses an electronic link to replace the traditional mechanical accelerator cable and linkages that wound their way from the driver’s footwell through the firewall and around the engine to the throttle plate.
ETC also dispenses with the mechanical cruise control cable, reducing engine bay NVH transmission into the cabin.
ETC registers the position of the accelerator pedal and transmits that data to the Powertrain Control Module. The PCM in turn authorises the throttle plate to open.
The ETC’s request for the throttle to be opened is compared with data supplied to the engine management system from sensors controlling items such as fuel pressure, engine temperature and automatic transmission status.
Previously the driver applied the accelerator pedal to open the throttle plate and a position sensor on the plate relayed that information to the Powertrain Control Module.
By reversing the process, greater throttle plate control is achieved, helping to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
The system was fine-tuned for BA Falcon in association with Ford’s engineers in the United States.
Driver benefits include:
Consistency of pedal feel as well as greater responsiveness to accelerator inputs.
Smoother engagement of traction control because the fuel supply is not abruptly terminated in low traction situations but reduced in infinitely adjustable increments.
A more refined engagement of the rev limiter function.
More seamless activation and re-engagement of the cruise control system.
Fine throttle control for low speed manoeuvring and optimised pedal response for high-speed kickdown.
Smooth idle thanks to inputs from the Powertrain Control Module rather than the mechanical throttle by-pass system - now deleted.
Electronics are more reliable and durable and do not require regular servicing like mechanical systems.
The inlet tract has been opened up for better flow while the inlet manifold continues with a dual resonance manifold design.
The two runners provide a long path for low-down torque but above a set rev limit switch to a shorter path for more top-end acceleration and wide open throttle performance.
The application of the electronic throttle control allows the implementation of a more refined rev limiter that engages in a smoother manner.
The BA Falcon’s I6 block is made of cast iron but topped by an alloy cylinder head. The block is lighter than before, partly thanks to the deletion of the auxiliary drive shaft that drove the oil pump and distributor.
Deleting the drive shaft also benefits NVH.
The drive shaft housing has been shaved off the side of the block and the oil pump is mounted on the end of the crankshaft.
The oil pump is a new design that is driven by the crankshaft. The pump housing slips over the end of the crank at the front of the engine.
The pump has been specifically designed to cope with the increased rev limit of the I6 engine.
Previously the oil pump was driven at cam-speed (half crank) via an auxiliary drive shaft (now deleted).
To avoid cavitation (where bubbles form in the lubricant due to high rotation speeds), the design has been optimised with the 6000rpm red line in mind. The pump is now 25 per cent more efficient.
Fitting the oil pump on the crank is a feature of Duratec engines.
The cross-bolted alloy sump, designed for the new I6 engine in 1998, has been further refined and modified. The oil pan is biased towards a more rapid return of lubricant to the oil pump pick up, due to the requirements of the dual VCT camshaft phasers. There are also twice the number of valve train components to lubricate.
Also included in the sump is a windage tray, close fitting underneath the rotating crankshaft, to increase power and reduce aeration of oil.
Three new hydraulic engine mountings attach the motor to the engine bay. The aluminium mounts are stiffer to dial out NVH transmission.
This intelligent lock-out system prevents the starter being accidentally engaged when the engine is running.
Torrent of Torque From New V8
BA Falcon is the first vehicle in the world to use the new 5.4-litre 3-valve engine from Ford's Windsor plant in Canada. It boasts VCT variable camshaft timing on the single overhead camshaft per bank as well as three valves per cylinder, electronic throttle control, failsafe cooling system and unique, Australian-designed inlet and exhaust manifolds.
Ford-world debut for upgraded 5.4-litre engine
Overhead camshafts (one per bank)
Three-valve head (two intake, one exhaust)
VCT continuously variable over 60 degrees relative to the crankshaft
Aluminium cylinder heads
Roller finger follower valvetrain
Electronic throttle control
Coil on plug ignition
The BA Falcon’s new high-tech 5.4-litre 3-valve Barra 220 V8 engine offers a tower of power with 220 kW and an exceptional 472 Nm of torque between 3250 rpm and 4000 rpm.
The surfeit of torque makes towing a breeze, while the muscular thumping beat of a traditional V8 sound will appeal to enthusiast drivers.
The new engine will be available as a cost option across sedan and ute models.
The new 5.4-litre V8 is the first iteration of the substantially redesigned modular V8 family. Falcon is the first Ford to use this engine which now boasts VCT variable camshaft timing on the single overhead camshaft bank as well as three valves per cylinder, electronic throttle control, failsafe cooling system and unique designed inlet and exhaust manifolds for the Falcon application.
The engine has undergone significant development to make it perfectly suited to Falcon buyers with their appreciation of huge reserves of low down torque.
A fat, flat torque curve means that the engine develops plenty of torque low down and keeps on pulling all the way up the rev band.
The 3-valve system uses two inlet valves and one large circular exhaust valve positioned between the inlet valves.
The use of two intake valves enhances fuel-air mixing prior to combustion. This helps to squeeze all the energy out of each combustion event, improving power delivery and fuel efficiency.
Multiple valves also enhance the engine’s ability to “breathe” – that is, to move large volumes of air in and out of the cylinders – which is a key to generating maximum power.
Variable Cam Timing (VCT)
Ford’s new three-valve cylinder head uses a single overhead camshaft for each bank of cylinders. The cams press down on roller finger followers to open the intake and exhaust valves, which are closed by coil springs.
Conventional camshafts are permanently synchronised with the engine’s crankshaft so that they operate the valves at a specific point in each combustion cycle.
Variable cam timing allows the valves to be operated at different points in the combustion cycle, to provide performance that is precisely tailored to the engine’s specific speed and load at that moment. The timing is set to allow the best overall performance across the engine’s normal operating range.
The result is enhanced efficiency under low-load conditions, such as at idle or highway cruising, and increased power for brisk acceleration or at times of high demand.
Among the other advantages generated by variable cam timing and electronic spark control:
A special “cold-start” strategy allows the new three-valve engine to achieve operating temperatures more quickly, reducing emissions.
Variable valve timing reduces pumping losses - the work required to pull air in and push exhaust out of the cylinder.
Pressure build-up inside the combustion chamber occurs more slowly during each firing, particularly at lower engine speeds. This reduces operating noise.
This design automatically channels a portion of burned gases back into the cylinder, to improve efficiency and reduce emissions. In addition to eliminating the external exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) circuit, this design reduces temperatures inside the intake manifold. Cooler intake air has higher density, which enhances power and efficiency.
Engineers were able to shape a torque curve that is higher at low revs, without sacrificing high-end power. Torque increases at a relatively steady rate throughout the operating range.
Like the improvements in overall engine performance, improvements in the new three-valve engine’s refinement result from a host of design features, rather than a single breakthrough.
In an example that is typical of the holistic approach Ford engineers brought to this new engine design, the intake and exhaust manifolds that produce better air flow and improved efficiency have also been designed to offer quieter operation.
Ford’s noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) engineers used computer modelling to design vibration-resistant ribbing and reinforcement into the aluminium intake manifold.
Similarly, the new engine’s pistons have been shaped with noise reduction in mind. The pistons have longer side skirts than in the past, helping to control piston movement and minimise piston slap.
The three-valve design itself helped to reduce operating noise, as the engineers were able to balance the forces generated by valve and spring movement against each other, and aim the re******t force vectors toward the engine’s overall centre of gravity. This reduces total engine vibration – and vibration equates to noise.
The compact design of the cylinder heads naturally have a reduced surface area, helping to lower radiated noise. Roller-finger camshaft followers used in the cylinder head are both more efficient and quieter than non-roller designs.
Also at the top of the engine, new magnesium cam covers offer the vibration-resistance of aluminium, at reduced weight. They are fully isolated from vibration via rubber grommets integral to the mounting scheme.
Reinforcing ribs cast into the cam covers, as well as a structural baffle plate in the underside of the covers, were both computer designed to minimise audible vibrations.
NVH engineers took a different approach with the engine’s front cover, which must bear the mechanical stresses of the accessory drive belt.
In the new “controlled standoff” design, solid metal is used at the points where the cover bolts to the engine block, but a rubber gasket damps vibrations between mounting points. This refinement alone is responsible for a one-decibel reduction in overall sound levels.
Behind this cover, a new tensioner, reshaped to control small side-to-side chain movements, further reduces the sounds of the chain drive system.
The engine block itself is stiffer than in the past, through addition of computer-designed reinforcements cast into the block sidewalls, and thicker metal along the gasket surfaces. This, in combination with a new style oil pan made of a sandwich of metal around a plastic core, helps to minimise sound transmission through the bottom of the engine.
The cylinder head is machined in Canada and mated to intake and exhaust manifolds designed by Ford V-Engine Engineering in the United States especially for Falcon.
These help boost high-end torque as well as maintain the traditional low-end grunt an engine of this configuration naturally provides.
Falcon – Dedicated to Gas
The BA Falcon’s new dedicated LPG engine is more powerful, more refined and more efficient than its predecessor.
The new engine, dubbed E-Gas, pumps out 156kW of power at 4750rpm and 372Nm of torque at 3000rpm, while delivering the fuel costs of a small car.
“We’ve really got to the stage where the similarities between a petrol and an LPG Falcon are very close in terms of the driving experience.” – Richard Crisp Ford Dedicated LPG engineer.
New calibration delivers more power and torque
Higher compression ratio
Hardened valves and seats, new balance hose, air box
Refined installation, new tanks
Ford’s dedicated LPG engine, introduced in 1999, has been extremely successful, helping to win major fleet orders from operators looking to save costs and reduce greenhouse gases.
The new E-Gas engine picks up all of the benefits of the new BA petrol engine, with double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, dual variable camshaft timing and coil-on-plug ignition.
The new petrol engine has provided a strong base for the development of the E-Gas option.
The VCT system in particular has allowed engineers to take advantage of the higher octane rating of LPG and increase the E-Gas engine’s compression ratio to 10.7:1. The higher compression ratio helps to deliver a more power and efficiency.
A new induction system has been developed to work with the advanced Electronic Throttle Control while a new balance hose and new ductwork and piping improve under-bonnet layout and reliability.
The dedicated LPG Falcon dispenses with all petrol system components including fuel tank and pipes, reducing complexity while saving weight and cost.
The instrument panel features a dedicated LPG fuel gauge as well as a distance to empty read-out calibrated to the LPG tanks.
Fuel tanks offer 93 litres capacity in sedan, 116 litres in wagon and 92 litres in Ute.
The fuel filler area has been redesigned for both dedicated LPG and petrol models by moving the filler nozzle to the centre of the insert and smoothing the edges for greater user-friendliness.
There are also revised spark plugs, a unique Powertrain Control Module, and a new LPG converter and mixer with LPG-only start capability.
The tank in the sedan has been redesigned to fit under the new rear body. In the wagon, the tanks again fill the spare wheel well.
As before, the LPG tank is fitted with a number of safety features such as a high-pressure relief valve and a high flow shut off valve.