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Car reviews - Ford - Falcon - XR8 sedan

Launch Story

Ford logo10 Apr 2008

By GEORGIA OCONNELL

THE XR8 is no longer the flagship of Ford's Falcon sedan range. That much is clear from the fact that, despite being powered by the previous FPV GT's 290kW V8, the new Falcon XR8 no longer carries a price premium over the XR6 Turbo, which in FG series guise also offers more peak torque.

That's right, while the 30kW more powerful FPV V8 makes the newest XR8 a relative bargain at $45,490, the 270kW XR6T should be every bit as quick and now comes with an identical pricetag, rather than being positioned $1000 downstream as it was previously. Automatic versions of both models carry a $1500 price premium.

That means the new XR8 manual (and XR6T) carries the same $9000 price premium over the most basic FG Falcon (the XT auto) as before, but is the same price as the auto-only G6E.

The new XR8 is $1500 more expensive than the run-out BFII XR8 it replaces but, more importantly, it's also priced $200 higher than its most direct rival in Holden's Commodore SS, while is powered by a 270kW/530Nm 6.0-litre V8.

Based on the larger, roomier, more refined and safer new FG Falcon sedan, which comes complete with an all-new aluminium front suspension and forward-mounted variable-ratio steering gear, the FG XR8 essentially runs the same powertrain as the FPV GT launched in BF-series guise in 2002 (which has since been upgraded to offer 302kW and 540Nm).

That means the XR8 now runs a 5.4-litre DOHC Boss V8 that delivers 290kW at 5750rpm and 520Nm of torque at 4750rpm, mated to a new six-speed manual or recalibrated ZF six-speed automatic transmission. This compares with the new XR6T’s 270kW at 5250rpm and 533Nm from just 2000rpm.

The XR6T returns a far better combined average fuel consumption of 11.1L/100km, compared to the XR8's 14.0L/100km figure (both in automatic guise).

New-to-XR8 technology includes monotube shock absorbers, an Australian-first self-adjusting parking brake, a flip-out remote key, one-touch starting, automatic instrument cluster illumination, a front passenger Beltminder (in addition to the driver's), rear power windows (in addition to the front), outside temperature display, one-touch indicators (for lane-changing, as on Commodore), digital speed display (like Commodore), auxiliary audio input, multi-function display, set-point cruise control, a larger 5.8-inch LED-backlit LCD display screen and a four-speaker 112-Watt single-CD/MP3 audio system with mid-range sound adjustment (in addition to bass and treble).

Based on the basic XT sedan, apart from its exclusive V8 engine, the FG XR8 adds the availability of a new manual transmission (with 290mm clutch), plus new features like sports-tuned variable-ratio steering gear, unique-lens black-bezel bright ring headlights, unique tail-lights, a sports leather steering wheel, "Attitude" cloth trim with XR logos and the option of "Streetwise" cloth inserts in graphite, dark silver, blue or red colours, a high-output fuel pump, 18-inch alloy wheels with lock nuts, Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres and a unique exhaust system with semi-active muffler (SAM).

Exclusive carryover XR8 features include a unique bonnet power dome, dual horns, high-series brakes, a limited-slip differential, the ZF auto, a turned aluminium manual gearshifter, sports suspension, XR grille, front bumper, foglights, rear bumper, side skirts and rear spoiler, a chromed exhaust outlet, sports front seats, alloy pedal covers, front passenger lumbar adjustment, XR sports instruments with blue illumination and illuminated power window switches.

Unlike the Commodore SS, the XR8 offers climate-control air-conditioning, but lacks side curtain airbags (which are a $300 option) and makes do with twin front and front side/head airbags.

As with all Falcons, the XR8 continues to offer a trip computer, steering wheel audio controls, automatic headlight control, remote central locking, power mirrors, a 60/40-split folding rear seat (unlike Commodore) and four-way power driver's seat adjustment.

Apart from all-new Territory-style alloy front suspension that is claimed to reduce weight by 22kg and a new variable-ratio steering system that requires just 2.6 turns lock-to-lock and returns a class-leading 11.0-metre turning circle, the Falcon XR8 features all-new exterior sheetmetal, a redesigned interior with best-in-class front and rear head and shoulder and hip room (but not legroom).

Ford says the FG Falcon's completely redesigned body structure offers a vastly bigger interior that is easier to enter and exit thanks to wider door openings and wider-opening doors, as well as bringing big advances in NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) and overall refinement.

Combined with a revised version of the previous Falcon’s Control Blade independent rear suspension, plus a one-piece body side and triple-sealed doors, it claims the FG Falcon sets new Australian benchmarks for dynamics and ride quality.

Apart from the ZF auto, XR8 options include prestige paint ($400), a 1600kg tow pack ($495), a reversing camera ($500), reverse parking sensors ($500), 19-inch alloy wheels ($2000), premium sound ($1100), satellite navigation ($2000), leather seat trim ($2100) and, for the first time, a full-size spare wheel/tyre ($100 – as on Commodore).

The XR8 Luxury Pack comprises 19-inch alloys, leather trim, dual-zone climate-control, Premium audio, sports steering wheel and interior highlights for $5000.

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