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BA versus VY: Model showdown

Playing catch-up: On the surface it appears the XT Falcon now has the edge over Commodore Executive, but in some respects it is really only just catching up.

We compare the BA Falcon with Holden's VY Commodore - model by model and feature by feature

25 Sep 2002

WITH Holden's Commodore dominating the large car sales chart for just on five years now, the pressure has well and truly been put on Ford to get the BA redesign of the Falcon range right straight out of the box.

And Holden won't be making the task any easier for the Blue Oval brand with its VY facelift of the successful Commodore range.

Here's how the two fierce rivals line up variant for variant:


FALCON XT versus Commodore Executive is where the mainshowroom sales battle will be fought, particularly for fleet buyers.

While on the surface it appears the Falcon now has the edge, in some respects it is really only just catching up to its opposition.

Commodore has had independent rear suspension (IRS) as standard across the range since the VT arrived in 1997, while Falcon has only ditched its live rear axle with the release of BA, although it still lives on under wagon and ute models.

Falcon trumps Commodore with its more powerful engines and advanced automatic transmission, while Holden keeps the playing field relatively even with a pricing advantage.

As far as the big-ticket items go, the Falcon XT gets standardair-conditioning, front power windows, velour seat trim, a 60/40split-fold rear seat and a more powerful 100-watt audio system.

The Commodore Executive has none of the above - air-conditioning is optional ($2250), front power windows are not available, seat trim is cloth with velour inserts, a 60/40 split-fold rear seat is only available on the wagon and the audio system has an 80-watt output.

Rear power windows are also optional on the XT while, once again, they are not available on the Executive.

Holden continues to persevere with 15-inch wheels and tyres for the entry level Commodore despite the fact Ford has specified Falcon with 16-inch items - and continues to do so - since AU II in April, 2000.


APART from the engine/transmission situation, which is to the benefit of Ford models in most circumstances, Holden is more than competitive with Ford in the Acclaim/Futura match-up.

Pricing remains in its favour while the key safety features of standard traction control and side airbags are sure to make it keenly sought after in this sector - both features are optional on Futura, but add $470 and $500 to the price, making it a considerable $1210 more expensive.

The only other features in the Futura's favour are 16-inch alloy wheels and the standard fitment of a centre rear armrest with integrated cupholders.

Acclaim rides on 15-inch alloy wheels and makes do with a fold-away rear tray with cupholders - the centre rear armrest does not appear on the spec sheet until the Berlina model.


FOR the prestige buyer there is not a great deal in it. Berlina has finally been upgraded to 16-inch alloy wheels, matching Fairmont in that department, while both also get side airbags, traction control, velour seat trim and an upgraded audio system with six-disc in-dash CD player as standard.

Fairmont raises the bar with dual zone climate control air-conditioning to Berlina's single zone set-up, while it also gets a leather steering wheel (an accessory on Berlina).

On the other hand, Berlina is offered with the option of full leather upholstery, which is not available on the Fairmont.


THE Fairmont Ghia's key mechanical improvements over lesser Falcon models include sports IRS and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The sportssuspension set-up is optional on the Calais, while its standard wheel/tyre combination is 16-inch in size (17-inch wheels are available from the Holden By Design accessory range).

Both models have dual zone climate control, reverse parking sensors and a leather steering wheel.

Ghia has a six-way power adjustable driver's seat, power adjustablepedals, memory function governing both plus the exterior mirrors and leather upholstery (cloth with leather inserts is an option).

Calais counters with an eight-way power driver's seat but no memory function, velour trim but with the option of coloured leather and height adjustable rear head restraints.

On the audio front, Ghia has the premium audio system that adds an amplifier and subwoofer to give it a 250-watt capacity, but Calais leapfrogs its competitor to offer 10 speakers and a 260-watt output.

XR6 versus S

THE situation is not as clear-cut with the sports variants. All XR models come with 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/45 tyres and a fullbodykit, which is matched by some sports Commodoremodels but not others.

Commodore S has the bodykit, but no front foglights or full size rear wing spoiler and makes do with 16-inch alloys.

It does have traction control and front and rear power windows though, while rear power windows remain an option on the XR6 and traction control is not available.

XR6 T versus SV8

XR6 T gets the rear power windows and traction control, along with a limited slip differential.

For comparativepurposes it lines up against the new Commodore SV8, although it is far from an ideal match up, as the SV8 is Executive-based and misses out on many S features.

For the 17-inch alloys and LSD it gains, it loses items such as the power windows, cruise control, passenger seat lumbar adjustment, leather steering wheel and full bodykit (it retains the S model-size rear wing spoiler).

XR8 versus SS

THE 235kW Commodore SS takes the equipment fight back up to the more powerful 260kW XR8 with 18-inch alloys and 235/40 tyres, front foglights, side airbags, alloy pedals, colour-coded instrument panel, leather steering wheel, gearshift and handbrake lever and an audio system with six-disc in-dash CD player and graphic equaliser.

The XR8 can only match the foglights and leather steering wheel. Side airbags, 18-inch wheels, upgraded audio with six-disc CD player, power adjustable pedals and leather gearshift are all optional.


Engine performance

ULP 4.0 I6kW182@5000rpm3.8 V6152@5200rpm
Turbo 4.0 I6kW 240@5250rpmS/C 3.8 V6171@5200rpm
Nm450@2000 to 4500rpm375@3000rpm
Base level 5.4 V8kW220@4750rpmBase level 5.7 V8 225@5200rpm
Hi-performance 5.4 V8kW260@5250rpmHi-performance 5.7 V8235@5200rpm

Fuel consumption

--SedanWagon-Sedan Wagon
Highway7.4 7.8 6.67.0
220 V8City14.5-235 V8 13.513.5

Standard brakes

BA front298mm ventilated discsVY front296mm ventilated discs
BA rear303mm solid discsVY rear286mm solid discs

Exterior dimensions (mm)

BA sedanBA wagonVY sedanVY wagon
Front track1553 155315691569
Rear track1571154615871587

Interior dimensions (mm)

BA sedanVY sedan
Front headroom1010988 (wagon: 1002)
Front legroom10861072
Front shoulder room15131518
Front hip room14611440
Rear headroom976992
Rear headroom wagon10431069
Rear legroom980968
Rear shoulder room14941520

Kerb weight (kg)

BA six-cylinder sedan1672VY sedan1522
BA V8 sedan1740VY sedan*1606
BA six-cylinder wagon1684VY wagon1585
*Measurements use XT Falcon versus Commodore Executive, except V8 VY sedan kerb weight which uses Berlina, as Executive is no longer available with V8 option

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