Well as you all know from my recent post and test drive of the XR6T, I was mighty impressed to say the least. Well this morning I call up Frank at my Ford dealer and we took the dealer principles BA XR8.
The XR6T and XR8 were parked side by side, both in Phantom and both with the optional 18”. Now I know they are the same, however that bonnet bulge makes such a major statement or rather promise in regarding the cars performance, you find yourself feeling excited about driving it before you have got behind the wheel.
Which lead me to the following problem.. My expectations. Frank started her up and we drove out of the Dealership and up a couple of streets. Although fighting it, I was finding myself to be disappointed asthe car was quiet, mannered and well behaved. At this point it might as well of been a Fairmont with a Tickford/FPV body kit. I had expected nothing really from the XR6T and it blew my mind. I expected everything from my old sparing partner (the XR8), and I was left feeling that she had grown up and matured (unlike me maybe??).
Then Frank handed me the keys…..
At this point I decided to drive this car with a little spirit (if you know what I mean). I found that the XR8’s power range and characteristics had changed, which was the primary reason for my initial disappointment. What I did next was to take the time to find where all the things I loved had been placed. I will tell you all now that these ‘things’ are still there and a lot more of it!
On the down side, in the lower rev range this 5.4 BOSS V8 is reserved and makes you feel as though there is so much more behind it, however it has been tuned to be reserved somewhat, unlike the AU versions of old. Take the time however to give this car some mumbo and it comes on smooth, angry and strong. It does not ‘sling shot’ you like the Turbo, however the velocity in which you find yourself propelled is likened to a plane taking off. At this point I was starting to love this car. Up in the rev range the sound is just beautiful, inside and out. The pulling power of this car reminds me of the GT 351 Cleveland’s of old, however with much more refinement.
The gearbox in the XR8 was nicer than the turbo and delivered a ‘top loader’ like style to it. Gear change throws on the other hand were not as good as I felt they were a little too long.
And then it happened, the moment of truth. I was just pulling out of a side street onto the main road when one of the General’s best in black went by. Forgetting Frank was sitting next to me I went around the corner and gave this car almost full throttle.
With in a matter of seconds we caught up to the black SS Ute and went passed him. In this fleeting maynover the acceleration I can only describe as awesome. I pulled in front of the SS, apologised to Frank and waited for the SS to retaliate. Well, he didn’t, in fact he kept on slowing down seeming so not to catch up to me. Thou this was no race and nor would it have been, it left me feeling very, very competent in this car.
Despite many of the reviews to date on the XR8, this is one muscular beast with balls of steel. If you are a V8 person you will love it, it’s just that simple. Like the LS1 (although better IMO) it needs a rev, but if your willing to take it there it delivers the goods on all fronts. Handling wise it feels a little heavier, however I like and prefer the weighted feeling personally.
Is it better than the XR6T? No.
Its not worse either, its totally different altogether.
Does it feel faster than the XR6T? No, but stronger Yes. The XR8 feels like it’s got so much more as the XR6T does not. What I mean by that folks is both cars are very conservatively set up with loads more potential to be had, however the XR6T makes you feel like what it delivers is enough. The XR8 on the other hand does not and leaves you impressed, excited, testosterone charged and wanting more.
It had become clear to me that this car has been built for XR8 or SS, V8 loving people and not to impress so much others that seek the performance and characteristics of the XR6T or WRX’s.
Which one will I buy? Logic tells me the XR6T, emotionally I want the V8. Conclusion is I would be happy with either, however I would like to drive the GT.