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Old 03-18-2003, 07:35   #1 (permalink)
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Beaut and brute utes

Road test with Bruce McMahon
19mar03
The Courier-Mail

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

PRICE: $39,575

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

Payload: 590kg
Attached Images
File Type: jpg the courier-mail - beaut and brute utes [19mar03]2.jpg (11.4 KB, 103 views)
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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.....
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Old 03-18-2003, 07:39   #2 (permalink)
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The Courier is another Ford nameplate that's had a fair Australian history even while it may never have set the sales books alight. This time around, and once again in conjunction with Mazda, there is a fresh body style to add to the mix.

Ford still calls it a Super Cab but there is a pair of small and clever rear doors, hinged at the rear and opening to provide great access to the front and rear of the cabin. There's no pillar between the rear and front doors.

In the back, there is a pair of fold-down seats and a pair of seatbelts. This should be fine for a pair of kids over a fair distance but there's also room for a couple of adults on shorter hauls.

And this cabin-and-a-half allows for more tray length (an extra 200mm) than on the traditional crew cab which still is part of the Courier range.

It is not just the canny cabin which lifts the latest Ford Courier, there's also the choice of a well-mannered and energetic turbocharged diesel engine. There only is a modest 86kW here, plus a reasonable 280Nm of torque, yet the five-speed Courier gets along at a fair clip.

Off in the paddocks, there is decent engine braking in low range and an ability to crawl and clamber on a steady throttle. There's 208mm of ground clearance, a rear differential lock and, on the XLT, a meaty set of 265/70R15 tyres with bite.

For 99 per cent of bush and beach applications – work or play – the Courier is a very handy machine.

It runs quickly and comfortably, handling the rougher back roads of southeast Queensland with more grace than the hot-headed XR6.

And where the Courier may not turn quite as sharply, where grips levels may be not quite as high as the Falcon's and where it will never run as quickly, the diesel ute is a pretty quick point-to-point machine.

What's more, it has a 1270kg payload and carries a decent load without a struggle on its well-behaved chassis.

The ride is good and the handling exceptional for this class of truck.

There is, though, a degree of road noise, the handbrake lever is one of those under-dash affairs (not always handy in the scrub) and the stereo controls are a real fiddle. And maybe the driver's seat could offer either more support or more adjustments.

Yet even these quibbles cannot stop the Courier Super Cab quickly establishing itself as one of the four-wheel-drive utes to beat.

FORD COURIER XLT SUPER CAB

PRICE: $42,560

ENGINE: 2.5-litre turbo-diesel

POWER: 86 kW @ 3500rpm

TORQUE: 280 Nm @ 2000rpm

TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual; two-speed transfer case

DIMENSIONS: Length/width/height: 4998mm/1750mm/1740mm

PAYLOAD: 1270kg
Attached Images
File Type: jpg the courier-mail - beaut and brute utes [19mar03].jpg (9.4 KB, 93 views)
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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.....
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