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Dark clouds may be amassing on the Ford Australia horizon with the approaching demise of manufacturing but there is some sunshine still in the blue oval skies.
Heading the Falcon flight is the FG X XR8 sedan, with which Ford has returned a V8 engine – the 5.0-litre supercharged Boss unit – to the Falcon XR Series line-up. The FG X XR8 six-speed manual sells for $52,490, plus on-roads, and six-speed automatic $54,690. The latter was our test vehicle.
With the new Falcon FG X series already in showrooms and the arrival of the updated Focus and Focus ST, all-new Mondeo, Mustang coupe and convertible and Everest SUV, by 2016 Ford will have reworked in some way its entire Aussie line-up.
Also making a push into new territory is the company's myFord Capped Price Servicing program, which has now been extended up to seven years and 135,000 km, whichever comes first, up from six years and 105,000 km. The service also is extended to include brake pad replacements. The Capped Price Brake program provides a maximum rate for brake pad replacement.
Front and centre is Ford's global design DNA with a signature trapezoidal grille, chiselled headlight treatment and smoother, wraparound tail-lamps with LED technology. A daytime running light set-up is unique to the XR8.
On the outside the Falcon XR8 has strong visual differences over other XR Series models, with a bonnet power bulge, quad-tipped exhaust system, power side exterior repeater mirrors and unique shadow-line five-spoke 19-inch x 8.0 (front) / 9.0 (rear) alloy wheels.
Inside, generous seats offer outstanding support, cushioning excessive lateral body movement when taking to twisty bits in spirited driving. Seat inserts are natural perforated leather with the seat bolster in Nudo print leather.
Instruments and controls are clearly defined, the latter readily falling to hand, while front and rear parking sensors help drivers with greater accuracy by providing a proximity warning tone of hidden obstacles.
The new Falcon is replete with smart technology led by Ford's SYNC2 connectivity system with Emergency Assistance standard across the range. Microsoft-based SYNC2 enables occupants to use voice commands to control phone, music, radio, air-con, and navigation with single-shot GPS for destination entry, where fitted.
A high-resolution 8.0-inch colour touch screen with four colour-coded quadrants enables easy access to features.
As well, customers gain a digital radio (where there is coverage) and twin antennas for improved audio quality.
The Boss 5.0-litre, supercharged 32-valve V8 puts out maximum power of 335kW at 5750 rpm and maximum torque of 570Nm all the way from 2200 to 5500 revs. That's bulk grunt under your right foot virtually all the time.
To match the performance of the sporty sedan, the FG X XR8 features front Brembo four-piston calliper brakes and rear single-piston calliper brakes, high-spec cooling fan, limited-slip differential, heavy duty battery and sports steering gear.
Ford has fitted the FPV GT R-Spec suspension to the new Falcon XR8.
A passenger safety cell, incorporating ultra-high strength steel for all-round protection, is augmented by six airbags, including curtain airbags. Dynamic stability control limits over-steer and under-steer by working with traction control and ABS braking to help keep the vehicle under control.
A fatigue warning system lets the driver know when it's probably time to pull over and rest after prolonged periods of continuous driving. It all adds up to the entire Falcon FG X range earning the top five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard.
Emergency Assistance comes into play in the event of the vehicle being involved in an accident in which airbags deploy or the emergency fuel pump shutoff is activated. SYNC2 uses its hands-free phone capabilities to attempt to connect the driver directly with a 000 operator through the paired phone.
Compared to the last FG Falcon XR8, Ford claims the FG X XR8 has better turn-in, more rear grip, less body roll and an increased sense of control from behind the wheel.
This was put to the test at the vehicle's launch when the FG X XR8 was committed to road and trackwork. The animalistic sedan was raced around a slalom set-up, its characteristic 335kW V8 growl ringing out at any power-packed manoeuvre.
At no time was there any hesitation in the vehicle's response to driving input.
In another part of town, fuel consumption was shown to be within large V8 parameters, with the XR8 showing the creditable figure of 11.6L/100km on the motorway. But hovering around the 20-litre mark in stop-start city traffic. Ah well, think of the fun factor.
Parking especially in skinny shopping centre spaces was relatively stress free due to a reversing camera with guidelines. Getting in and out was not so easy at times, the wide opening doors a threat to close neighbours.
|(base)||4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$12,985 – 30,998||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|(LPI)||4.0L, LPG, 6 SP AUTO||$19,981 – 24,990||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 (LPI) Pricing and Specs|
|Ecoboost||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$11,550 – 15,400||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 Ecoboost Pricing and Specs|
|G6E||4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$21,750 – 25,888||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 G6E Pricing and Specs|
“There will be many things familiar to the Falcon V8 aficionado in the new FG X XR8 and those not so familiar will soon find their way around the new surroundings. It's a bit like coming home really.”
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