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XR8 gets a dose of herbs

Raw and racy: The Tickford-prepared XR Falcons have been restyled to strengthen their motorsport connections.

Ford has given the XR8 a power boost to bridge the performance gap between it and the Holden Commodore SS

5 Apr 2000

FORD has given its revised XR Falcon range a harder look to create a more discernible visual link between it and its racing counterpart in the V8 Supercar championship.

But perhaps the best news for enthusiasts is that the XR8 gains the same engine as the FTE TE50.

Its power and torque outputs now stand at 200kW at 5000rpm and 420Nm at 3750rpm respectively, compared with the outgoing XR8's outputs of 185kW at 5000rpm and 412Nm at 3500rpm.

The extra performance comes at a price though, as the XR8 now costs $48,965 - an increase of $2475.

The power increases are, no doubt, aimed at bringing the XR8's straight-line performance closer to the 5.7-litre Holden Commodore SS, which cranks out 220kW and 446Nm.

The XR6 HP and XR6 VCT use the same engines as before.

As before, the XR models are available with either a five-speed manual or four-speed adaptive shift automatic - offered as a no-cost option.

As with the rest of the Falcon range, the XR cars get upgraded brakes with bigger pads, thicker rotors and a higher capacity booster.

Ford says the revised braking system is more resistant to fade and less prone to fluid overheating. The XR cars also gain a firmer brake pedal to provide more feel.

Fade-prone brakes were one of the most criticised aspects of the superseded XR8, otherwise regarded as an accomplished and rewarding driver's car.

Tickford has developed a striking set of five-spoke 17x8-inch alloys which are standard on the XR8 and optional on the XR6 HP and XR6 VCT.

The 17-inch wheels are also standard on the XR6 and XR8 utes.

A premium braking package sourced from the T Series cars is available as a $3200 option, but only in the IRS-equipped XR8 and XR6 VCT - the latter must also be fitted with the 17-inch wheels to accommodate the bigger brakes.

The suspension has been carried over essentially unchanged, although the rear rollbar is located 24mm lower.

Externally, the XR range has been updated to create a stronger link with the Falcons competing in the V8 Supercar series.

Arch-rival Holden has been particularly adept in this area, gaining maximum leverage from its factory-backed Holden Racing Team cars.

The updated XR models now feature a more intricate, race-inspired front bumper and spoiler, while the grille now has two vanes instead of one.

Ford has also opted to shroud the inner headlights to mirror the outer ones.

The dual-wing rear spoiler found on the old XR8 has been ditched in favour of a squared-off, single-plane item. However, the bi-plane spoiler can still be ordered as an option.

A body kit that adds front and rear skirts and rocker panel mouldings is available as a $1700 option.

The cladding around the wheelarches has been ditched to "clean up the sides", according to Ford Special Vehicle Operations program manager Mr Gordon Barfield.

Inside, the XR models now feature a predominantly blue theme, with a full leather interior available as a $1900 option.

A six-stack CD player is standard in the XR6 VCT and XR8 and a 250-watt premium sound system is offered for an extra $950.

Seeing as it is now possible to order an XR8 equipped with the same engine, brakes, stereo and leather interior as a TE50, some may ask why anyone would buy the latter.

It should be pointed out that an XR8 optioned-up to this level would cost virtually the same as a TE50 anyway.

Nevertheless, Mr Barfield suggests the FTE range is itself due to be enhanced shortly.

"Wait until you see what we do with the T Series cars," he says cryptically.

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