Just found this preview drive on the autoexpress magazine website. They took a phantom XR6T with 18" and were a big fan of the car and its speed and had very few criticisms..........
<B>Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo</b>
We've found an Australian with a kick that's nearly as good as England rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson's! It's the bargain Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo, which is likely to put a smile back on faces Down Under. In its home market, this car costs $43,995 - that's about Ł14,500.
Ford brought the model driven here over to this country to prove that it's not only arch-rival Vauxhall which can make Aussie muscle cars. Even if you include our test vehicle's leather trim, automatic gearbox and electric seats, you'd still have change from Ł20,000.
With a turbocharged straight-six engine belting out 323bhp, the Falcon has plenty of muscle to flex, too - and it doesn't do so subtly. Our car was finished in pearlescent metallic purple, while its flared wheelarches, 18-inch alloy wheels and rear spoiler do little to hide the performance potential.
The XR6 tag also hints at the new-comer's sporting prowess by recalling Fiesta XR2s, Escort XR3s and Sierra XR4s of old. In Australia, the Falcon is the equivalent of a Mondeo in the UK. However, it's nearly a foot longer than a Vauxhall Omega - and difficult not to notice in this colour scheme.
Fire up the engine and you're in no doubt that there's a serious piece of iron throbbing away under the bonnet. Even at idle, the unit sounds incredible. When you engage sports mode on the gearbox and floor the throttle, it's like poking a sleeping lion with a stick. At first, the car grumbles, then, as the turbocharger kicks in, it becomes fierce, growls angrily and leaps forward with the kind of eagerness that will leave lesser sports saloons cowering in fear.
Although not the most agile or dynamic of cars, the Ford has a thrilling rawness that Europe's manufacturers are often all too keen to engineer out. It may be wild, but the Falcon isn't hard to tame. The excellent steering has a direct feel, while the rear-drive chassis is twitchy without being unnerving.
Don't expect refinement, though. The archaic four-speed automatic gearbox takes an age to swap between ratios, even when used in manual mode, and has a tendency to clunk when reverse is engaged. Ride quality is firm and, at speed, there's lots of noise in the cab-in - although as most of it is from the sports exhaust, enthusiastic drivers are unlikely to complain. The Falcon lacks the build strength of European Fords, so while the dashboard is attractive and well finished, some plastics on the door trims and switches are poor.
Nevertheless, the XR6 Turbo is an exciting car. What's more, it's built for right-hand-drive markets, so is easy to live with in the UK. While Ford says there are no plans for official Falcon sales here, it should be simple enough to get one, either by bringing it to Britain yourself or using a private importer. The newcomer might not be an out-right winner, but for once the Aussies have scored a pretty good try!