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New models - Ford - Falcon - XR8 sedan

More squirt for Falcon XR8

Blue Oval Bruiser: The Falcon XR8 is now propelled by a stonking 220kW engine.

Ford shows it means business with a meaner Falcon XR8

8 May 2001

FORD and its performance partner Tickford have thrown down the gauntlet to the Holden Commodore SS by upping the Falcon XR8's power output from 200kW to 220kW.

The beefed-up power and torque outputs - 220kW at 5250rpm and 435Nm at 4000rpm - all but put the XR8 on level footing with the 5.7-litre Commodore SS, which cranks out 225kW and 460Nm.

Ford says the additional 20kW comes from modifications to the cylinder head, a larger throttle body, matched ported inlet manifold and a revised camshaft.

But best of all, the added grunt won't hurt your hip pocket as pricing remains unchanged - the manual XR8 retails for $45,828 and the automatic version $46,548. By comparison, the Holden Commodore SS costs $46,670, regardless of whether you specify the six-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

The move to slot the 220kW engine - formerly reserved for the HSV-rivalling T-Series cars - under the bonnet of the XR8 comes as a surprise as Ford performance car marketing manager Rick Nayler recently said the cost of the powerplant ruled it out for the car.

"The 220's a pretty expensive engine because we don't have the luxury of what GM do and just take them out of a box," he said. "We've got to do a lot of other stuff so it doesn't make a lot of financial sense." Not only is the more potent engine expensive to manufacture, it also served to differentiate the upmarket T-Series offerings from the XR8.

The fact the 220kW unit is now available in the XR8 suggests the T-Series vehicles will gain a 5.7-litre stroker engine sooner rather than later.

Mr Nayler recently said the T-Series cars would gain the HSV-matching 255kW stroker engine in the third quarter of this year. Given the latest turn of events, it may happen as soon as June or July.

Meanwhile, Mr Nayler suggested Ford had little choice other than to boost the XR8's power output in order to compete against the Commodore SS.

"Our XR8 customers have had more power on their shopping lists for quite a while," he said.

"When you combine the 220kW 5.0-litre V8 with the dynamics of the Falcon chassis and a very sophisticated IRS system you've got a pretty impressive piece of machinery." In addition to the XR8's engine upgrade, the XR6 VCT now gains 17-inch alloy wheels and P235/45 ZR tyres as standard equipment. All XR models also come standard with side skirts and painted rear vision mirror covers.

The XR8's standard equipment list includes a limited-slip differential, body coloured rear spoiler, power windows, cruise control, air-conditioning and a 100-watt audio system with an in-dash, six-stack CD player.

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