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Ford Falcon XR8
road test


Looks good
but quality falls short of the mark


A striking colour choice is just one of the many highlights of Ford's iconic sports sedan. And a superb choice of colours will continue on offer when the new 'BF' series Falcons are released in October. See our story on the BF models here.

There is no doubt in my mind that the BA series Falcons are a good looking range of cars. Especially in the XR format. Although the XR6 doesn't offer much performance as such, it looks good and it offers an attractive package for those who like to look good. The XR6 Turbo and the V8 powered XR8 are the real sports versions of Ford's large Australian sedans (and utes).

For this test we look at the Falcon XR8. The test car was coloured 'Rapid'. If you think it stands out, then let me say you are absolutely correct. This colour is just one of numerous attractive shades on offer. Ford clearly has an edge over Holden when it comes to colour choices.

The test car was an automatic. This made daily commuting very easy. The 4-speed sequential sports shift is on hand, just in case you want some manual control over the transmission. In auto mode, there is no manual block-out for the overdrive. This is one aspect I don't understand. When I drive a manual for example, I never select overdrive when I'm doing 50 km/h around town. And there is no reason for an auto to select overdrive under the same conditions. But some cars lack the highly desirable block-out switch to prevent an unwelcome overdrive selection by the gearbox. The Falcon is one of those without this desirable feature, despite the fact that numerous 'cheap' cars have the feature as standard equipment!

For our test, we completed 1,085 kms around Sydney and Newcastle. In city, suburban and freeway driving conditions, the XR8 auto is as easy as driving can be expected. The 5.4 litre V8 packs a powerful punch and, as such, it should be under the guidance of a respectful and experienced driver. As you would expect, the V8 chews fuel with great anxiety. Driving the Falcon XR8 is pleasant enough, but this motoring editor believes the car would be a better drive if it projected a little more strength in the build quality. For example, the build quality doesn't feel as secure and as strong as some other cars in the XR8 price range.


Ford Falcon XR8

Ford Falcon XR8
Location: Newcastle NSW

Click the image for a larger view

Ford Falcon XR8

Ford Falcon XR8
Location: Newcastle NSW

Click the image for a larger view

The BA Mark II Falcons are in their run-out season now, so there should be some good 'deals' around. The recommended retail price for the XR8 is from $51,275. Prestige colour (such as 'Rapid') is an option at $355. The price of the new BF XR8 manual is much the same. But the XR8 auto will be a little more as the auto becomes a 6-speed unit in the new BF model.

Stephen Walker - Editor 
with the Ford Falcon XR8

Ford Falcon XR8
Location: Manly NSW

Click the image for a larger view

Whilst the Falcon XR8 looks good, there are numerous disappointments. For example, the protective cover over the spare wheel doesn't cover the full area of the wheel well. This means the boot carpet will sag as it ages and, we expect, after a while it will look as shabby as the carpet in the boot of a taxi. Another disappointment is the cheap plastic fittings on various interior fittings (front seat runner end caps for example) which easily break and fall off. But the biggest disappointment of all is unforgivable. There is no driver's footrest in the XR8! This issue deserves immediate attention.

The XR8 is a popular choice because image is an important factor when buying a car. And the XR8 projects a powerful image. As such, I expect it to remain a desirable package, despite the fact that it could, in my view, be a much better product.

Stephen Walker
30th September, 2005



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