XR6T Review on Sunday Times site
Taken from Sunday Times NEWSmotoring site :
Ford finds its feet with its first turbocharged production Falcon
By NEIL DOWLING</b>
GRIMY fingerprints on the driver-side window, waves from unknown occupants of passing cars and staring pedestrians – ah yes, my likeness to Tom Cruise knows no bounds.
Tragically, it was the car that impressed the locals and not the driver.
And impressive is something that really hits the new Falcon turbo for six.
The first turbocharged production Falcon gets all the mumbo of a bent-eight with the fluidity and docile temperament of a quality in-line six, with very few vices.
Stack up the figures and it's a car that comes right up against the quality Europeans of only a few years ago.
Twin overhead cams, a four-valve head, variable-valve timing and a turbocharger with an intercooler adds up to 240kW (322hp for our elderly readers) – more power than the Mustang-bred 5.4-litre V8 in the new Fairmont.
On the road the power is slick, rushing through to the rear wheels with barely a hint of turbo lag and without any noticeable power band.
It comes on so smooth and linear that it has none of the traditional power delivery associated with turbocharging. In fact, only the muffled whistle of the turbo gives the game away.
The 450Nm of torque coming in flat and strong from 2000rpm – again, as good as a big V8 – is responsible for excellent low-speed lugging ability.
Suburban corners can be dribbled around in fourth gear, with metered pressure on the accelerator allowing the car to pull away cleanly.
At the other end of the scale, the acceleration is wonderfully quick and quiet.
Open road cruising begs the tacho needle to be swung around the dial, with quick up and down changes of the five-speed manual box to hurry the sedan along becoming addictive.
Heaps of work has been done to the suspension, giving a nice compromise between predictable and flat cornering and forgiving compliance for the sake of the passengers.
The double wishbones up front and Ford's new Control Blade – effectively a full independent system similar to that used by associate company Jaguar – at the rear are enhanced with firmer springs and shockies.
Ford claims the rear suspension gives more precise wheel angles when running through the bends. I can't disagree. In comparison to the AU – that's the ugly one – the new BA Falcon has a back end that actually feels like it knows what its doing.
This predictable handling inspires confidence – and I'm aware that could also inspire over confidence – but more importantly it has the potential to make the car safer.
To the driver in you, I'll tell you now that this is a pretty good machine.
It hasn't got the dynamics, for example, of a Mitsubishi Evo VI. But it doesn't have that car's supple rides either.
As a car that needs to be all things to all wives, this thing comes damn close.
One of the XR6 turbo's biggest attributes is that pleasing ability to shrink around the driver, making it feel far smaller and lighter than the data on the specification sheet.
It starts with excellent, body-hugging sports seats and extends to the small steering wheel, positive gear change and light clutch.
Simple controls, clear gauges and light steering feel win this car a lot of friends and make it exceptionally easy to drive.
The fact that it seats five adults in comfort, has a spacious boot – not with a flat floor, however, after the fuel tank was moved to in front of the rear axle – are bonuses to attract the family.
Some of the first XR6 turbos to be sold in Perth went to fleet buyers who sacrificed some of their salary to get behind the wheel.
Three, I am told, have been bought by the Telstra fleet in WA.
But however much I adored the power delivery and this car's ease of driving, it is not perfect.
The price – exceptionally appealing at $43,965 for the XR6 turbo manual (there is an auto but, like, why?) – comes with a car that is the first out of the new box for Ford.
The test car suffered some quality issues, mainly because it was one of the first off the line, but be aware that the dashboard creaked and groaned like my spine every morning.
Nothing fell off – unlike bits in the first AU in 1998 – but it wasn't quite right. Thankfully, you have a warranty and the rest of the car will keep you pleasantly entertained until you find something better. Which may take a long time.
The Sunday Times