FORD XR6 TURBO REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large sedan
Fuel Economy (claimed): 11.7 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 12.6 l/100km
Released to celebrate the Ford Falcon’s 50th birthday, the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo 50th Anniversary - aside from some dress-up features - doesn’t carry any substantial differences over the regular XR6 Turbo.
That’s a good thing considering the bang-for-buck and honest-to-goodness value that the turbocharged XR6 represents.
Quality: Like the Falcon, the quality of tactile surfaces is high. There were a couple of random internal squeaks that appeared over rougher roads, but the XR6 is robustly engineered and the build is solid (few cars can withstand the rigours of Australian roads like our home-grown ‘sixes’).
The 50th Anniversary adds leather upholstery as standard, but the quality of the hide is below par.
Comfort: The seats are big and designed for ‘typical’ (read: large) Australians. Smaller occupants may find the front seats not quite grippy enough, however they are very comfortable over long trips.
The rear bench is generous and wide enough to easily seat three adults however significant transmission tunnel intrusion means the centre seat is best left to children.
Equipment: Standard features include cruise control, dusk-sensing headlamps, dual-zone climate control, iPod integration for the stereo, a six-disc CD stacker, an aux stereo input (but no USB), Bluetooth integration, reverse parking sensors and power windows front and rear.
Storage: Seats up, the XR6 Turbo can take up to 535 litres of cargo in the boot, although the unusual shape of the boot floor can make carrying flat items difficult. Folding the 60/40 split rear seats allows longer or bulkier items to be carried.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The XR6 Turbo’s 4.0 litre turbocharged inline six will surely go down as one of Australia’s finest indigenous engines.
Power from the blown six peaks at 270kW, but it’s the 533Nm torque figure that really widens the eyes. Plant your right foot at almost any speed, and as the tachometer swings through 2800rpm a torrent of boost arrives, bringing with it a surge of acceleration.
The power doesn’t let up either, and in the blink of an eye it’s time to grab another gear. Left to its own devices, the six-speed ZF-source automatic is capable of picking the right gear for the situation.
Drive it enthusiastically and the adaptive mapping prompts the ‘box to hold lower gears longer and to up-shift sooner.
Around town and off boost, the XR6 Turbo can be as docile as you want. The greatest problem you’ll face is resisting the temptation to exploit that enormous swell of torque.
Refinement: The addition of a turbo actually quietens down the Falcon a lot, but noise from other areas - principally the tyres - can be loud at freeway speeds.
Suspension: The Falcon is a big, heavy car, but it will hold on quite tenaciously in a corner. That is, it will hold on until you start to squeeze the throttle again.
Applying too much throttle too early in a corner (with the ESP off) will result in the rear wheels stepping out, but the slide is progressive and easy to catch.
With ESP on, the stability control calibration isn’t as refined as other cars and can take a brief moment to restore control to the driver.
Despite our test car being fitted with the optional 19-inch alloys, ride comfort is excellent thanks to the XR6’s multi-link suspension being so well tuned to Australian road conditions.
There is occasional rack rattle in the steering (severe mid-corner corrugations can expose it) but the hydraulic power steering system gives good feedback.
Braking: The brakes feel undersized for a car this big and this quick. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to induce fade (particularly on spirited downhill runs), and the pedal feel is too soft.
ANCAP rating: Five stars
Safety features: Stability control, traction control (which can be disabled), ABS, EBD, brake assist and a full suite of six airbags (front, front side and curtain) are standard on the XR6 Turbo
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km with five-year warranty against perforation corrosion.
Service costs: Under the myFord capped price servicing plan, each scheduled A and B service for the XR6 Turbo costs no more than $360. Servicing intervals are set for every 15,000km or 12 months.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Holden Commodore SS ($49,790) - Holden’s six-cylinder rival for the XR6 - the Commodore SV6 - can’t hold a candle to the Turbo’s performance, making the V8-powered SS a more natural rival for the Ford.
The XR6 holds the edge in interior quality and outright speed, but the Commodore’s 6.0 litre V8 isn’t without its charms either.
The Holden has a slight handling advantage thanks to its less nose-heavy configuration, but the XR6 Turbo is easily the faster vehicle. (see Commodore reviews)
Subaru WRX sedan ($39,990) - Vastly cheaper than the XR6 Turbo, but also vastly smaller.
The WRX is a real performance bargain, and its 2.5 litre turbocharged flat-four delivers the same rush as the XR6 Turbo’s engine.
The interior is rather plain though, and an automatic transmission is not available. (see Impreza reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
We like the XR6 Turbo, we like it a lot. It’s not the most politically-correct car in a market that is shying away from large, fuel-guzzling cars, but to us it represents the zenith of the Falcon legend.
With the future of Ford’s locally-developed large car maybe in question (or at least speculated about) and the iron-block inline six already living on borrowed time, the XR6 Turbo may fade into history sooner than we’d like. Enjoy one while you still can.