Car reviews - Ford - Fairlane - range
Steering, handling, ride, space, comfort, driving ease
Room for improvement
Dumpy styling that’s still too close to the Falcon inside and out
30 Mar 2005
FORD’S real agenda with the BA Fairlane/LTD MkII is to show just how off-the-pace Holden’s aging V-car platform is underneath the more-popular Statesman and Caprice.
A sizeable chunk of the $500 million BA program was making the Control Blade independent suspension, beefed up body and recalibrated steering a real driver’s car, and Ford succeeded magnificently.
It also knows that today’s luxury car buyers are more sophisticated drivers, as they’re exposed to BMWs, Audis and such.
And so the Fairlane delivers.
Over a series of smooth and rough rural roads, the BA body control, handling, steering and ride continues to be as impressive now as it was two years ago.
Now it puts even more clear blue sky between the Ford and Holden, and means that the former should be the choice if enthusiastic or an interactive driving experience is sought with all that luxury.
Particularly if it involves lots of country driving.
The Fairlane – driven in Ghia 4.0 and V8 as well as V8-only G220 guises – really does seem like a much smaller sedan at speed, feeling solid and stable as well as manoeuvrable.
Unfortunately there weren’t many opportunities to test the direct and responsive steering around tightly woven curved roads, but it leaves little doubt that it would make very light work of these anyway.
And even with the firmer suspension set-up, approaching that of the XR series Falcon, the ride never felt harsh or undisciplined.
Ford has also achieved its goal in lifting the ambience of the interior compared to the earlier BA range, particularly with the chrome switches and black applique around the dash centre console and brushed aluminium instrumentation base.
Plenty of what makes the BA Fairlane a fine effort remains, like more rear seat space than you’ll ever really need, excellent seats, a comfortable and relaxing driving position, and gusty engines.
But it still comes across as very-BA Falcon like overall, despite the new trim colours and revised leather seat finish.
That old AU Falcon curved pillar bugbear is still there, meaning that the windscreen header seems too close to the driver’s for comfort.
And it still takes a trained eye to spot a Fairlane from a Fairmont straight-on or from behind.
Ford knows this all-too-well. It’s the real reason why the Statesman creams it for sales. You’d think Ford would have learned from the time of the ’72 ZF model. Maybe the next-generation Fairlane will be more different.
Still, just like in the Statesman, for the money you won’t find more passenger space.
So if you’re after a spacious Aussie built luxury car with the best road manners then the Fairlane/LTD might just be your cup of tea.
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