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The final chapter in Ford Australia's muscle-car story is a supercharged, track-focused V8 hot rod. Blast hurrah.
This is what you call going out with a bang. The XR8 was finally reinstated to the struggling Falcon line-up last year after it was dropped back in 2010.
The supercharged V8 hero arrived too late to save the Falcon, with Ford's local production set to end in October next year, but it will at least give Ford fans something to smile about.
The XR8 is essentially a reborn FPV GT-RSPEC, a track- focused muscle car, which has been updated with new styling and some fresh technology.
The XR8 is effectively an FG Falcon with Ford's latest corporate designed nose and tail.
It looks like the soon-to-be-released Mondeo (sold as Fusion in the US), with a little bit of Mustang mixed in.
It has a subtle raised bonnet, instead of the bold power bulge of the FG model, and W-shape LED lights that give the car a more aggressive look.
The interior is updated slightly, with a new-look screen, instrument cluster and fresh leather trim (with new seats).
It looks neat and clean and everything is within reach, but it also looks very dated.
The eight-inch touch screen looks good and has the latest Sync 2 system, which, among other things, means the car can call for help automatically in the event of a crash. There are two USB charger points in the centre console too.
There is plenty of room in the cabin and the leather seats are very comfortable. The driver's seat is still too high, even though the cushion has been recut to lower the seating position.
The XR8 has satnav and a reversing camera as standard. Unlike the SS-V Redline Commodore, it doesn't get self-parking, but that's unlikely to bother the target market.
The XR8 is a snorting muscle car
This is a muscle car, made for people who enjoy their driving. More importantly, the XR8 misses out on a heads-up display, which is a notable omission in a car that requires close attention to the speedo. There is no option of any automatic emergency braking either.
The XR8 is a snorting muscle car, but is actually quite refined around town, when driven smoothly. The optional automatic is the best choice for anyone who is going to spend most of their time in the traffic, as the manual is fairly clunky.
The XR8 has a stiffer suspension package; the old cars would slump into a corner and float around over bumps.
This car is well tied down, and feels sharper and more responsive through corners, helped by its precise, well-weighted steering. The penalty, on bumpy roads, is a jittery ride, bordering on harsh.
Wider rear tyres now mean the XR8 is less of a handful and can sling out of corners fast, instead of sliding about.
The transmission also helps with the driving experience, intuitively adapting to more enthusiastic driving and extracting the most out of the big V8.
This engine is an absolute gem.
Not satisfied with a 5.0-litre V8, FPV threw a supercharger into the mix as well.
It has a wicked soundtrack, a mix of supercharger whine and exhaust thunder
Officially, it has 335kW, but it actually produces 375kW thanks to a supercharger overboost function that operates almost all the time in all gears, except first. That makes the SS Commodore's 270kW (260kW as an automatic) look and feel paltry. It is a thrill to accelerate and has way more torque than you need in any gear.
Buyers should do the odd track day to unleash this beast.
It has a wicked soundtrack, a mix of supercharger whine and exhaust thunder, with some cracking and popping thrown in.
It is a thirsty beast and expect it to go well above the official fuel economy figure of 13.6L/100km, but hey, this is a hot rod that probably won't be used for commuting.
A fitting final chapter in Ford Australia's muscle car history.
The ballistic engine and sharp handling easily make up for a dated interior, lumpy ride and some missing technology.
|(base)||4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$9,100 – 13,750||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|(LPI)||4.0L, LPG, 6 SP AUTO||$10,900 – 15,950||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 (LPI) Pricing and Specs|
|Ecoboost||2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$9,100 – 13,750||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 Ecoboost Pricing and Specs|
|G6E||4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$15,400 – 21,780||2015 Ford Falcon 2015 G6E Pricing and Specs|
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