Holden Commodore SV6 vs Ford Falcon XR6

6 October 2011

Holden Commodore SV6 vs Ford Falcon XR6

It may well be the most popular bloke's fantasy that we can detail in a family newspaper - driving a Falcon or Commodore around the famed Mount Panorama race circuit.

Even though the V8 Supercars of today bear little resemblance to the racing machines, the masses simply count the cylinders, check the badge and that's enough for them.

When reality hits - purchase price, fuel use, approval from the missus - either of the two locally-built family sedans are more likely to pack six cylinders than eight.

The Adelaide Hills might not be Mount Panorama but 150km of sodden hills roads was covered in each of the six-cylinder sedans from Holden and Ford to get a handle on which one tops the timesheets, I mean the shopping list.


Holden Commodore SV6


The list price is about line-ball with the SV6 the test-car was a Limited Edition $34,990 XR6 - we'll stick with an apples-for-apples stand-off. Standard fare on the normal XR6 includes a sports-leather steering wheel (with audio and cruise controls), a CD, iPod-integrated  four-speaker sound system, 17in alloy wheels, Bluetooth, bodykit, single zone climate control, alloy pedals, cloth trim and power-adjustable driver's seat.

Ford Falcon XR6


The VE Commodore has had several updates - the SV6 sedan packs plenty into it's $42,790 pricetag - standard kit includes a colour touch-screen infotainment system with a 1-gig hard drive, CD, MP3 auxiliary and iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth link for phone and audio, dual-zone climate control, seven-speaker sound system, sports seats, front fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 18in alloy wheels.


Holden Commodore SV6

The engine might have a long history but it's 24-valve variable-valve top-end helped up the outputs to 195kW and 391Nm. The ZF transmission might have cost Ford more than the alternatives but the programming and "smarts" of the six-speed  are worth it. Fuel consumption but 9.9 litres per 100km on the ADR combined cycle is not far off the Holden - on our road loop the trip computer was showing 11.4.

Ford Falcon XR6

The final piece in the ethanol puzzle for Commodore has fallen into place, with the 210kW/350Nm 3.6-litre direct-injection V6 now capable of running on E85. The model update has also brought auto transmission tweaks to improve fuel consumption - the SV6 claims a 9.5l/100km thirst for the auto, the roadtest loop of mainly open-road driving (the ADR figure is also open-road biased) saw 10.9litres 100km at an average speed of 53km/h.


Holden Commodore SV6

The fundamentals of this model Falcon can be traced back to the 2002 BA Falcon but it's still a handsome machine. The Falcon is 76mm longer overall at 4970mm, but sits on a shorter 2838mm wheelbase - rear passengers will notice the narrow footspace but the Falcon can comfortably transport four adults and gear without concern. Taller drivers sit "on" rather than "in" behind the low-set steering wheel and the windscreen is also on the low side.

Ford Falcon XR6

There's not much in the way of change to the SV6's looks - the four-door sedan that got some minor tweaks (including underbody aero treatment) for the Series II update. Despite being 76mm shorter overall at 4894mm, the wheelbase is longer at 2915mm, which does translate to a little more room for rear passengers. The Commodore's cabin easily accommodates four adults and the 496 litre boot has enough room to take their associated luggage without any issue.


Holden Commodore SV6

The Falcon boasts a five-star crash test rating as well, with stability control, anti-lock brakes, dual front and front-side airbags, front pre-tensioners, but curtain airbags (as well as reversing sensors, but not a rear camera) are optional. The Ford at least has a temporary spare wheel as standard (with optional matching spare wheel), automatic headlights but no rain-sensing wipers - a limited-slip differential is not even on the options list.

Ford Falcon XR6

A five-star ANCAP rating has been worn by this car for a while, thanks to standard stability control, anti-lock brakes, dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as front load limiters and pretensioners, but surprisingly for a sports-model there's no standard limited slip differential, nor is there a standard full size spare - the SV6 does have automatic headlights but no rain-sensing wipers; reversing sensors and a rear camera are both optional.


Holden Commodore SV6

The XR6 sits nicely on the road and seems a little quieter than the Commodore. For the most part the Falcon rides well and is composed in the making a nicer noise than the Holden V6.The ZF auto is a much better transmission, reading the driving patterns far more acutely than the GM tranny.There's more meat on the bones of the steering, with good levels of feel. Even in the wet weather the XR6 had good grip and required little in the way of electronic interference or assistance. The amount of information on offer from the easier-to-read centre display, but controlling it with two lots of dash buttons is overly complex.

Ford Falcon XR6

The Adelaide-built Commodore feels nicely planted on the road and yet steers like a car weighing less than its 1684kg kerb weight. The 3.6-litre V6 and six-speed automatic provide solid punch to the rear wheels (but it's not the most musical of soundtracks) and rarely bothered the electronic aids. Ride is on the firm side but isn't harsh and would be unlikely to deter day-to-day use. The steering is light but not devoid of feel for the driver. Forward vision in the VE is only marred by thick A-pillars and rearvision is slighted by a high rump and small exterior mirrors, the latter also an issue with the Ford.


Holden Commodore SV6


Better luck
next time :(

Ford Falcon XR6


Winner winner
chicken dinner!

Better fuel economy and safety features help the VE put its nose in front - the Falcon is a nicer car to steer, but curtain airbags as standard can't be ignored, nor can any chance to gain on fuel use. The ability to run on E85 (if you can find it) might also convince some, although if fuel use is king you'd be looking at the new LPI XR6 Falcon. Both cars need and should have standard reversing sensors at the very least and the absence of a reversing camera even as an option on the Ford gives the SV6 an edge. The SV6 just sticks its nose in front of the XR6.


Written by

Stuart Martin

Published 6 October 2011

Published In

Head to Head

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