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Ford Falcon

BA Falcon XR6, XR6T and XR8

Ford logo1 Sep 2002

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

The most changed model in its 42-year local history, only the Falcon’s doors and some under-body bits were carried over from the unfortunate AU.

From the flattened roof, squared-off nose and German Audi-style tail, to the all-new soft-feel interior that even featured altered seating and steering wheel position mounts, everything one could see and touch in the BA was modern yet conservative.

But underneath a revolution took place. Three virtually all-new engines, complemented by a Tiptronic-style four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox, were introduced: a 182kW/380Nm 4.0-litre OHC variable-valve timed inline six-cylinder engine a turbocharged version cranking out 240kW/450Nm, and an American-sourced but Aussie-developed 260kW/500Nm 5.0-litre DOHC 24-valve V8 known as the Boss 260.

All were significantly gutsier than their predecessors.

“Control Blade” multi-link independent rear suspension (sedan only), an 80-per cent increase in torsional rigidity, completely new rack and pinion steering, improved safety and refinement properties, and far more computer power elevated the Falcon to a world-class standard in driving, comfort and ride terms.

Only the portly weight and high fuel consumption remain problem areas.

Sales skyrocketed and, after 36 years, the Falcon won its third Wheels Car of the Year award.

The XR series BA proved to be more popular than even Ford had anticipated.

All versions included dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, keyless entry, power front windows, power steering, electric mirrors, a CD player, air-conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, a body kit, sports suspension, bolstered seats and a rear spoiler.

But there was no wagon variant.

New standard features: independent rear suspension, trip computer, powered driver’s seat, boot release, body kit.

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