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Car reviews - Ford - Falcon - XT sedan

Steering

Ford logo19 Dec 2002

By MARTON PETTENDY

ALREADY best in class for feel and precision, Falcon has made another step forward in the steering department.

Capitalising on the more rigid bodyshell and stiffer front suspension tower mounts, Ford engineers fitted new steering gear with a more direct ratio to increase responsiveness and feel especially on-centre.

Now identical to Commodore with 2.8 turns lock to lock (down from 3.2), the new steering ratio is accompanied by reduced power assistance, making the steering feel firmer, meatier and more evenly weighted across the board.

In XT guise it strikes a better balance between working well at both parking speeds and sporting speeds, never leaving the driver in any doubt about where the front wheels are headed. The turning circle has increased marginally due to the larger 16-inch wheels, but remains a Commodore-matching 11 metres.

Changes aimed at reducing the transfer of noise, vibration and harshness from the steering and suspension include a strengthened steering column and its mount, further isolating the driver from unwanted information through the tiller.

The steering wheel itself is smaller in diameter and thicker rimmed, feeling sportier and looking more expensive via its textured finish and standard audio controls. The optional cruise control buttons are located opposite them, on the right.

While some say changes to the VY Commodore's steering gear valving has seen it leapfrog Falcon, which they say now behaves too busily, we think the improvements in responsiveness and weighting - which come at no expense to Falcon's well documented accuracy and feedback - simply push it further ahead.

Did you know?

Falcon XT offers extra equipment over Commodore Executive, including bigger 16-inch wheels, front power windows, air-conditioning, split-fold rear seating, front seatbelt height adjustment and on-glass antenna. Meantime, Commodore Exec buyers benefit from road-speed sensitive wipers and speed alert function

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