Ford has unleashed its latest weapon in the battle for the hearts of Australia’s performance car buyers, with manual versions of the 260kW Falcon XR8 on sale this month.
XR Falcon sales reached new heights in December, smashing all previous records.
Ford President Geoff Polites said there had been unprecedented interest in XR Falcon since the launch of the award-winning BA Falcon range.
“We sold 972 XR Falcons in December, compared with our best ever AU Falcon XR month of 507 units – and that’s without a BA XR8 in the mix.
“The December XR Falcon result was more than three times our monthly average for the first ten months of 2002.
With strong back orders for the Falcon XR8, Mr Polites is confident of achieving new sales records in the near future.
“Despite the lack of availability of test-drive vehicles in dealerships we have had a number of customers place deposits on XR8s,” he said.
He said the new XR Falcon range was also attracting more private retail buyers – a key goal of the BA strategy.
“The number of private Falcon buyers in December was up 77 per cent on the 2002 average.
“The percentage of private Falcon buyers was 21.8 per cent in December, compared with the 2002 average of 12.6 per cent.
“The figures demonstrate that the Falcon is well and truly back on the shopping list for private buyers,” he said.
The Falcon XR8, with its distinctive power bulge in the bonnet, delivers a new level of responsiveness and refinement to the Australian performance car market.
The latest edition to Ford’s rich performance car heritage is powered by a 5.4-litre V8 boasting quad camshafts, four valves per cylinder, high flow cylinder heads and stainless steel extractors.
The Boss 260 engine, which develops 260kW of power at 5250rpm and 500Nm of torque at 4250rpm, is produced on the only V8 engine assembly line in Australia.
Ford Performance Vehicles builds each Boss engine from bare blocks and heads, adding a wide range of local upgrades and internals on a new $1.5 million assembly track.
Mr Polites said the local assembly approach delivered unbeatable value in V8 motoring.
“To get a quad-cam V8 that delivers the level of power of the Boss 260, you’d be looking at a price tag well into six figures,” Mr Polites said.
The Boss 260 is mated to a Tremec T3650 five-speed manual gearbox designed to handle high torque applications, linked to a 3.23 axle ratio.
The XR8 package also includes sports suspension, unique front-end styling with a distinctive power bulge, a bodykit, fog lamps, dual horns and a unique chrome-tipped exhaust outlet.
The XR8 has standard 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels shod with Dunlop SP3000 235/45 ZR17 tyres. An optional 18-inch, five-spoke alloy with Dunlop SP9000 245/40 ZR18 tyres is also available.
Inside, the Falcon XR8 comes complete with sports seats, a sports instrument cluster with blue backlighting and a leather steering wheel.
The Falcon XR8 also features a number of standard safety features including traction control, ABS and limited slip differential. Side airbags are a $500 option, while a $2950 premium brake package is also available.
The premium brake package includes unique discs and callipers. The front discs are 325mm in diameter and 32mm thick, compared to 298mm and 28mm on the standard Falcon. Both front and rear discs are grooved.
Manual XR8 Falcon sedans are on sale with a recommended retail price of $50,130, while automatic variants will follow in Q2 with an RRP of $51,050.
Manual XR8 Falcon utes have a recommended retail price of $40,925. Automatic variants, with an RRP of $41,845, will be available in Q2.
New XR8 Unleashes the Boss
The stunning new Boss 260 V8 engine in the Falcon XR8 is the first salvo in a new barrage of high output engines developed by Ford Australia's performance partner – Ford Performance Vehicles.
"The new engine is not only unique in the Ford world, but is built here in Australia – starting from just bare blocks and heads," said Ford Performance Vehicles Managing Director, David Flint.
"We have maintained and built upon the standard previously set by Tickford to produce a premium performance engine that specifically meets Australian requirements.
It is the first V8 engine ever offered in an Australian model with quad overhead camshafts and 32 valves, an advanced specification more than capable of writing a new chapter in the Boss and the GT legends.
The Falcon XR8 – like its GT sibling due later this year – boasts a specific Boss power bulge bonnet that is factory-styled, tooled and stamped as a single steel panel.
This ensures that the engine’s position in the engine bay and vital performance equipment are not dictated by low bonnet height. It also helps generate the required ground clearance for the sump and allows additional airflow around the engine bay.
The original and the new
The 260kW version of the new Boss engine starts with the rigid cast-iron block and high torque of Ford’s proven 5.4-litre V8, with forged steel crankshaft and cross-bolted main bearing caps as manufactured by Ford in Windsor, Ontario. The block is from the same all new V8 engine family that powers the BA Falcon range.
The very latest development of the Cobra R alloy cylinder heads, with twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and high performance alloy inlet manifold, are the 21st century equivalent of the Cleveland heads. They are added to the latest version of the 5.4-litre block to create a new Boss that is even more formidable than the original.
The original Trans-Am race-bred Boss 302 featured an aluminium high-rise manifold, four barrel carburettor, 4-bolt centre main bearing caps, forged crankshaft and special pistons. It delivered 215 kW (290 bhp) at 5800 rpm on a compression ratio of 10.5:1.
The new Boss 260 delivers 260 kW (350 bhp) at 5250 rpm and 500 Nm at 4250 rpm.
Boss cylinder block
Source: Ford Windsor, Ontario
Cast-iron for exceptional rigidity. Up to three times stronger than aluminium for extra durability reserves and refinement under high horsepower and torque loads. Maintains tolerances better. More stable over a wider temperature range. Less movement at critical sealing points for superior resistance to oil and coolant leaks. Regarded as the most rigid and stable starting point for a high performance engine as evidenced by V8 Supercar control engines.
Forged steel crankshaft for strength and refinement under high power and torque loads.
Oil pump is driven directly off the crankshaft. If the engine is running, the oil pump is pumping. Eliminates the potential for engine failure that can occur when a separate oil pump drive breaks and the engine continues to run.
Deep skirt block, which extends well below crankshaft centerline and encloses the crankshaft for maximum strength and refinement. This allows a non-structural low profile oil pan with single plane oil seal and fully enclosed one-piece rear main bearing seal.
Six-point main bearing location is comprised of two cross-bolts, two vertical bolts and two vertical locating dowels for each main bearing cap. Together, they provide six-point mounting with superior and more precise location compared to a six-bolt mounting. In combination with the rigid deep skirt cast-iron block, they deliver exceptionally stable and highly accurate crankshaft location for superior durability and refinement under high performance loads.
Highly accurate three-grade engine tolerance system measured in microns that matches crankshafts, pistons, block, conrods and bearings within three measurement grades for perfect fit. Accurate component matching by tolerances and weight improve performance, durability, refinement and fuel consumption.
Undersquare bore and stroke ratio delivers the flexibility, fast response and strong pulling power from low engine speeds expected from a premium performance V8.
Special high tensile bolts stretched under torque for maximum strength and extra resistance to loosening are used in critical engine joins.
Long life galvanized and stainless steel welch plugs.
Sintered conrods for uniform weight and high strength. Conrod big ends are separated by controlled cracking process for main bearing insertion leaving a highly accurate and multi-ridged join unique to each conrod that is exceptionally strong and virtually invisible.
Eight bolt flywheel clutch-mounting for uniform clutch attachment and strength.
The FPV oil pan and oil pick-up shared with the Boss 290 features a front well to clear the cross member and to provide adequate ground clearance compared to the rear well of US engines. This oil pan was also subjected to exhaustive development under high “g” circle work to avoid oil starvation under high cornering loads.
Cylinder heads and ancillaries
Source: Cast by Ford US, machined by Cyltech
Twin overhead camshafts per bank, four valves per cylinder, to produce a deep breathing, high performance engine for exciting and consistent power and torque delivery right up to the red line. Although these heads add extra weight over a pushrod engine, this is more than offset by power and efficiency gains.
Cast in aluminium alloy to minimize weight increase of larger heads and extra valves and to reach operating temperature faster.
Improved Cobra R design with a better breathing, straighter inlet port.
Hollow camshafts for reduced weight, less inertia and faster response.
Low friction camshaft followers for more precise valve control.
Sealed high-quality timing chains are lubricated by the engine’s oil supply for long life, giving a major reduction in maintenance costs compared to timing belt replacement and all but eliminating the possibility of engine damage through a missed timing belt change. They also feature hydraulic tensioners that automatically compensate for wear. While these timing chains add extra weight, they are especially reassuring with the Boss 290’s high lift camshafts and long reach valve stems.
Specific inlet camshaft to match the Boss inlet manifold and exhaust header system. This camshaft matches the profile of the Mustang Cobra’s inlet camshaft, an engine renowned in Australia for its thoroughbred sporty feel.
More upright long runner inlet manifold with tuned length intake trumpets to match straighter inlet port for strong torque at lower engine speeds, accessible power at everyday engine speeds and deep breathing at high engine speeds. Manufactured in Australia.
Specific Boss fuel rail with upgraded injectors to suit inlet manifold, camshaft and cylinder head characteristics. Specific high quality fuel lines with high-pressure unions.
A 75mm throttle body with drive by wire throttle linkage. This replaces a mechanical throttle linkage, which can generate a noise and vibration path into the cabin. It also reduces maintenance, allows more accurate throttle control and allows for optional pedal adjustment on automatic models.
The Boss cast alloy plenum cover is profiled for optimum breathing and to fully exploit the raised bonnet clearance to meet the specific air flow and volume requirements of the Boss intake system. Manufactured in Australia.
Boss low restriction air-intake system developed and manufactured in Australia incorporating the high volume conical filter element from the Mustang Cobra. Positioned and shaped to deliver higher density cooler air with optimized air flow to meet volume requirements of the inlet system. Tuned induction system also generates deep-breathing sound commensurate with performance.
Fabricated stainless steel exhaust headers up from T3’s 1 ľ inch to 1 7/8 inch for a total breathing package to match the performance inlet manifold, high lift cam profiles and 32 valve heads. This exhaust system also contributes to the deep and purposeful sound that only a premium V8 performance engine can generate. Reduced weight compared to cast exhaust manifolds. Manufactured in Australia.
Cylinder head cooling system inlet pipes are sealed into the thermostat housing with dual O-ring sealing system to maintain cooling system integrity under high temperatures.