Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
Beaut and brute utes
Road test with Bruce McMahon
A PAIR of Fords have flown under the radar in the past couple of months to capture a deal of respect around here.
It isn't that hard to see the XR6 Turbo ute rolling up, bright colours and skirts. And it isn't too hard to find the fun to be had from 240kW of power and 450Nm of tailsliding torque.
The second of the duo is a little more workhorse and a wee more expensive. And, at the end of the day, the four-wheel-drive Courier ute with rear suicide doors is more practical, if not as quick and sexy as its stablemate.
Both are top utes, albeit pricey machines at $39,675 for the turbocharged XR6 and $42,650 for the turbocharged diesel XLT Super Cab.
The XR6 Turbo is a very fast head-turner. This one, finished in an electric blue, rides low and runs hard.
As such, it is not the best weapon for rougher roads where that front spoiler can be caught out. The back end also may need a little more suspension travel.
But give it a head of steam on a good bitumen or dirt road and it's smiles from slide to slide.
The turbocharged six, best appreciated with the five-speed manual gearbox, loves powering away from about 2000rpm in second gear.
There is a wonderful balance to this sportster, a smart turn-in and a rear end with a good deal of grip plus accommodating manner which allows the back end to break away in linear fashion.
The steering on this one is a little heavier at low speeds yet meaty and sensitive as road speed rises.
It has a different nature to Holden's SS ute. That one is more the long-distance hustler; the XR6 Turbo has a sharper nature, a little more let's-do-it.
This particular XR6 Turbo has the sequential-style automatic gearbox – quite a smooth combination for most driving, but it can be abrupt at full noise changes in full auto and that push forward to shift down a ratio is not always a natural move.
Logic may suggest pushing forward to go down through the gearbox, flicking back to change up, yet many find a flick back a more intuitive move for downshifting.
The rest of it is forever a delight, a comfortable and good-looking machine. It punches out of turns and stops, turns and handles with the reassurance of a sports sedan.
The ride is firmer than on a standard ute but rarely uncomfortable. Fuel consumption is about 15 litres/100km after a reasonable workout around town and down the road.
The clever cabin offers plenty of convenience gear, big and readable tachometer and speedometer, easily sorted stereo and airconditioning, plus a decent amount of room behind the bucket seats.
With the sports suspension, the XR6's load is limited to 590kg. The cargo area is fitted with a liner that saves dings and, on this ute, the optional hard tonneau cover that helps keep road noise down and wandering hands away from valuables.
This is a good-looking sports ute with attitude and comfort, a local product that builds on the reputation of that first mob of XR utes.
FORD FALCON XR6 TURBO UTE
ENGINE: 4-litre, turbocharged six-cylinder
POWER: 240kW @ 5250rpm
TORQUE: 450Nm @ 2000rpm
TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual or four-speed sequential automatic
DIMENSIONS: Length/width: 5077mm/1870mm
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....