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Driven: 2016 Ford Falcon Sprint launches at last

Going, going: The entire production run of 500 XR6 Sprints (left) has sold out in Australia, while there are only a handful of XR8s.

Full details of the last Aussie Ford performance Falcon finally surface

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Ford logo17 Mar 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FORD Australia has released the final performance-orientated Falcon, dubbed the Sprint, delivering what the car-maker believes are the most dynamically capable and fastest XR-badged sedans the company has produced.

While they are just shy of the 2014 FG FPV GT F sedan’s stated 351kW power output – rising to a reported 420kW or so in overboost mode in the right conditions – the 325kW XR6 Sprint (rising to 370kW in overboost) and 345kW XR8 Sprint (400kW in overboost) bring significant chassis upgrades that are designed to underline the Falcon’s long-held reputation as a driver’s car, according to Ford.

Although production of the 1400 Sprint sedans will commence in May, all 500 of the local-market XR6 automatics – priced from $54,990 plus on-road costs – have been sold, as have most of the 750 XR8 versions, priced from $59,990.

Only a handful of the $62,190 XR8 autos remain available. New Zealand is to receive a further 50 of the former and 100 of the latter respectively.

There is no XR6 Sprint manual because the transmission is not rated to deal with the 370kW/650Nm 4.0-litre six-cylinder turbo’s outputs the FG FPV F6 manual’s 310kW and 565Nm are considered to be the safe maximum for that gearbox. Around half of the XR8s to be manufactured will be auto.

Additionally, the Sprint’s dynamic focus also means no utility version was ever considered (unlike with the GT F), mainly due to the leaf-spring rear suspension’s limitations compared to the sedan’s multi-link set-up.

As revealed earlier this year, the Falcon Sprint boasts a number of visual cues designed to differentiate it from the XR models, although Ford was constrained by time and cost, meaning that there are no sheet-metal changes.

From front-on, the nose features blacked-out headlight bezels (with twin elements that refer to the twin-light Sprint XR8 of 1993/4), and a redesigned foglight surround with a separate vented element in the front bumper.

Side-on, there are varying graphic elements according to engine configuration, with the XR6 Sprint gaining a new hockey-stick style stripe connecting up to the tail-light profile, and featuring a ‘6’ motif, while the XR8 alternative has black rather than body coloured exterior mirror caps, a double-painted black roof hue, and rhomboid-shaped striping in the lower door sides.

On both versions, black Focus RS-style multi-spoke alloy wheels, exterior mirror indicators, badging on the door scuff plates, and gold-painted Brembo brake callipers also visually denote the newcomer. Out back, there is a body coloured boot-lid valance, while the XR8’s boot spoiler is also black.

Six colours will be available, including Victory Gold, Smoke grey, black, white, and two hues of blues.

Inside, there is leather/pseudo suede Lux seat trim, an electro-chromatic mirror, upgraded centre stack with auto climate control, a bespoke gear shifter assembly and surround, and Sprint labels for the instruments and shifter.

Other standard features include Ford’s Sync2 hands-free connectivity system with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.

Ford Australia chief program engineer David Burn revealed that the core team consisted of between 12 and 15 people, although he added that hundreds more ended up becoming involved over the Sprint’s 18-month gestation period.

The core team started using the Sprint name in lieu of the SVP code very early on, and it basically stuck, although it still needed to go through the appropriate channels before being made official.

The Sprint name has been applied to special Falcons over the years, in both Australia (in the aforementioned ED Sprint XR8) and North America, with the US original being a “1963.5” V8 with reportedly identical mechanical specification to the original “1964.5” Mustang.

The XK-based Argentinean Falcon was also offered in Sprint guise for five years from 1973.

“With all of these elements working together, the Falcon Sprint was a car we wanted, what enthusiasts want, and to go out with something that is a real celebration of what the Falcon represents,” Mr Burn said.

“We are car people and car enthusiasts… and the Sprint was developed by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts.”

This is the final release of an Australian-engineered and built Falcon.

Production ceases on October 7, 2016.

2016 Ford Falcon Sprint pricing*
XR6 (a)$54,990
XR8$59,990
XR8 (a)$62,190
*Excludes on-road costs

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