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Ford Falcon XR6 and XR8 Sprint 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
9
Joshua Dowling road tests and reviews the new XR6 and XR8 Sprint limited editions with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at their Australian launch.

Talk about saving the best until last. Meet the finest -- and fastest -- Ford Falcons ever made in Australia.

To commemorate 91 years of manufacturing -- including 56 years at Broadmeadows -- Australia's oldest and longest serving car maker has built a present for itself and its fans.

By Ford's own admission, the XR6 Turbo Sprint and XR8 Sprint were "created by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts".

Spoiler alert: both cars are absolutely epic. But more about that in a moment.

Starting in May, Ford will build 850 of its flagship XR8 Sprint sedans (750 for Australia, 100 for New Zealand) and 550 XR6 Turbo Sprint sedans (500 for Australia, 50 for New Zealand).

Prices: $54,990 (XR6 Turbo Sprint auto), $59,990 (XR8 Sprint manual), $62,190 (XR8 Sprint auto). Don't expect any discounts. Once these cars are gone, there will be no more. The Broadmeadows factory will fall silent forever on October 7.

Not surprisingly, the Sprint editions are being snapped up by Ford fans; every XR8 Sprint and XR6 Turbo Sprint production slot has been allocated to a dealer, and most have names on every car.

  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint
  • It's the last of the V8 interceptors. It's the last of the V8 interceptors.

If you've been wondering whether or not to buy one as a keepsake, it may already be too late. By the time the media reviews are published, there will be no doubt left in anyone's mind that Ford has exceeded expectations.

The XR6 Turbo has the highest output from the Geelong-made six-cylinder ever: 325kW of power and 576Nm of torque in standard mode and a mind-boggling 370kW of power and 650Nm of torque in "overboost" mode, which last for 10 seconds at a time in ideal (read: cool) conditions.

The supercharged V8 in the XR8 Sprint has also came in for some attention, with an impressive 345kW of power and 575Nm of torque in standard mode and 400kW and 650Nm in overboost.

The changes go beyond turning up the boost; the XR6 Turbo has new hardware including the larger turbo charger, intercooler and fuel injectors from the blistering FPV F6, as well as a 40 per cent larger air intake (made from carbon fibre) to help suck in more air, and a free-flowing exhaust, all of which combine to create a heap more power.

Ford also gave the supercharged V8 a makeover by recalibrating the engine management computer to get the most power out of each individual gear.

Translated: both engines have more power from lower in the rev head and for longer in the rev range. The effect: instant acceleration as soon as you touch the go pedal.

Ford doesn't publish an official 0-100km/h time but engineers reckon you can squeeze a 4.5 sec pass from the XR6 Turbo and a 4.6 from the XR8 -- we repeatedly managed 4.7 in both models.

In milliseconds, using various onboard computers, the XR Sprint editions calculate how much grip is available and how much power they can get to the road without frying the rear tyres. Call it the smartest Falcon ever made, too.

  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint
  • 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint 2016 Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint
  • The Barra six, putting V8s to shame since 2002. The Barra six, putting V8s to shame since 2002.

Ford ensured the power output of the final Falcon GT (351kW in standard mode) was not eclipsed by the XR8 Sprint, but it's a moot point. Both Sprint editions unequivocally drive better than the last ever Falcon GT.

While the power and performance of this pair will get the headlines, it's the way they drive that impresses the most.

The previous XR8 rode like a pogo stick over bumps while the XR6 Turbo suspension was too soft and mushy.

The Sprint editions drive with a composure and sophistication the Falcon has never had before.

They are equipped with the same super sticky Pirelli P Zero tyres used on Porsches and Ferraris.

Race-bred Brembo brakes (six piston calipers up front and four piston calipers on the rear) are fitted as standard. The disc sizes are the same as before, but the larger calipers and brake pads -- combined with the tyre upgrade -- have reduced stopping distances by an incredible two to three metres at 100km/h.

The steering and suspension tunes on both Sprint editions are completely new, and unique to each model.

During development, Ford did more than 200,000km of testing, and sent cars to Detroit, Arizona and Germany for further evaluation.

It means the Sprint editions cover Australian backroads with more pace and finesse than ever before.

The engineers claim the suspension is in fact stiffer, but the Sprint editions feel softer and more compliant over bumps thanks to the superb tyres. The engineers were allowed to choose whichever rubber worked best, regardless of price.

They've never had so much freedom before; Ford finally let them build the car they always wanted to create.

The grip in high speed corners is so astounding, the chief chassis engineer said it made him feel giddy sometimes, due to the G force.

If this is the lasting memory of the Falcon then Ford has built more than a fitting tribute

Both are mind-altering cars in more ways than one.

The tragedy is that such incredible improvements have come as the Falcon is about to take its last breath.

If it sounds like I'm getting emotional, it's because I am.

On the one hand I'm so incredibly proud that Ford created such accomplished vehicles. Rather than take it easy as it neared the end of the line, Ford instead chose to dig deep and build the best Falcons of all time.

On the other hand, Australia won't realise what we've lost until these cars are gone. Sure, a Mustang is nice, but it's not as quick, as capable or as affordable as these two cars.

Could the Ford factory have been saved had the XR Sprint editions arrived years earlier? Sadly not, because as much as we love them, performance vehicles don't sell in large enough volumes to justify a production line.

If this is the lasting memory of the Falcon then Ford has built more than a fitting tribute -- and an iconic reminder of the vehicle engineering legacy it will leave behind.

Verdict

I honestly can't decide. The XR6 Turbo Sprint steers a little nicer (not just because it has 23kg less over the nose) but the steering had more tuning during development. It's the car the chief chassis engineer would choose.

But most of his colleagues prefer the XR8.

Although the XR6 Turbo exhaust has revived the crackle between gear changes of earlier models, the XR8 Sprint sounds as tough as a V8 Supercar with its glorious supercharger howl.

But the XR8 is much more of a beast to get off the line cleanly, even with automatic transmission.

In the end, the decision on which one to buy could be made for you.

If you can't get your hands on an XR8, you'll be more than duly compensated with the XR6 Turbo.

Check out Malcolm Flynn's video review of the Ford Falcon XR6 and XR8 Sprint

 

Click here to see more 2016 Ford Falcon pricing and spec info.

Pricing guides

$25,990
Based on 156 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$11,999
Highest Price
$79,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $14,900 – 24,990 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 (base) Pricing and Specs
(LPI) 4.0L, LPG, 6 SP AUTO $13,975 – 23,990 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 (LPI) Pricing and Specs
Ecoboost 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,500 – 15,400 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 Ecoboost Pricing and Specs
G6E 4.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $19,990 – 27,990 2016 Ford Falcon 2016 G6E Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
9
Pricing Guide

$11,999

Lowest price, based on 57 car listings in the last 6 months

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