Ford Falcon XR8 FG 2008 Review

Ford Falcon XR8 FG 2008 Review

ford-falcon-xr8-fg-fq

You can have the Ford Falcon XR8 in any one of a number of deodorant-named colours like Seduce, Octane, Sensation, Breeze and Nitro (which is the blue colour of our test car). And you need it because the XR8 will likely leave you with sweaty armpits if you unleash all 290kW and 520Nm of torque provided by the 5.4-litre Boss V8.

If the 245/45R18 tyres could tell a story it would involve smoking and screaming, but try this in an urban area and it’ll be less the Lynx Effect and more the Lynch Effect. For some people it’s bad enough someone has a noisy V8, without them showing it off.

But I don’t mind offending the precious and sensitive members of this fair nation when I’m driving a car that has a definite purpose: to transport a family and tow things. The XR8’s combined fuel consumption is 14l/100km and there’s 334g of CO2 per kilometre — not that flash compared to an econobox motor, but in line with other towing vehicles. The XR8 will tow 2300kg as long as the trailer is braked (more than some SUVs and crossover vehicles), and that’s enough for a pretty significant boat, caravan or horse float.

It’s the torque that makes the difference, and there’s a visual reminder of it all the time while driving. Peering over the bonnet’s power bulge from the driver’s seat is like standing on the top of a mountain with a snowboard strapped to your feet. You know that over the edge there could be a dramatic increase in speed and potentially some real carnage if you get it wrong.

But that’s not going to be the case. The Falcon rides well, and handles very nicely. Despite the large V8 and its associated bulk at the front end it actually seems to be more neutral than FPV’s GT at speed, and the only noticeable ‘pushing’ into the corners are lower speed tight turns. Though, turn traction control off and it’s easy enough to provoke oversteer.

Acceleration swells pleasantly as revs rise, and it’s only punctuated by smooth changes in the ZF 6-speed automatic gearbox. You can take over the gears with sequential sports shift — sometimes this is handy because the XR8 anticipates your driving style and with spirited motoring will sometimes leave you in a low gear for longer than you need.

Brakes grab sufficiently when you need them, though you have to push through a dead patch in the pedal to get any significant feel — this may have happened if they weren’t bedded in properly.

Ford has done a lot of work on the interior ergonomics and functionality since the BFII range. The stereo now gets a much better and more intuitive graphics package, displayed on a seven-inch colour screen. A six-disc MP3-compatible CD changer is mated to an eight-speaker 150W amplifier and subwoofer package, providing a solid wave of sound throughout the car. I’m not a big fan of the heater and air conditioning controls though, preferring dials as opposed to buttons for temperature and fan control.

This new FG Falcon is the first Australian-built car to receive a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). It scored 34.6 out of 37 points, and was awarded five stars for occupant safety. Ford performance over 5,000 simulated crash tests and 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests during development.

Supporting the structural integrity are driver safety features such as Dynamic Stability Control (which includes traction control and electronic brake assist), ABS and electronic brake force distribution to make sure the maximum braking power is going to each wheel.

Steering feel is reasonably good for a large sedan. The more expensive Fords have a steering wheel that feels good to hold, and the XR8’s features controls for the audio and cruise control, which have been revised to make them easier to use and less intrusive when steering the car.

The overall driving experience of the XR8 is one of effortless cruising power, with the ability to hustle (to an extent) down a more challenging road. The engine tone isn’t intrusive (if you want it to be, there are plenty of aftermarket exhausts that will liberate the V8 Supercar within), the seats are supportive, and the driving position perfect. It does all this without breaking a sweat.

For full specs of the Falcon XR8 click through to the next page.

Price: from $52,290 base model (our car had the optional leather interior)

What we like

  • Bold styling
  • Interesting colours
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Excellent safety rating
  • Cruise control buttons and functionality are better

What we don’t like

  • Brake pedal lacks feel unless you’re really pushing it
  • Reversing sensors are standard in a sub-$20,000 Kia, so why not in the XR8?
  • Air conditioning controls require some learning or you’ll be taking your eyes off the road to achieve the right temperature/fan setting

Engine/Transmission

Feature Falcon XR8
BOSS 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8 S
ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift S

Ride & Handling

Feature Falcon XR8
Virtual Pivot Control Link Front Suspension S
Sports Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) S
18″ x 8″ XR 5-Spoke Alloy with 245/40 R18 tyres S
19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
Full size alloy spare wheel S
Limited slip differential (LSD) S

Exterior

Feature Falcon XR8
Unique XR front bumper S
Sports body kit – side skirts and rear bumper S
Sports rear spoiler S
Front fog lamps S

Instrumentation and Controls

Feature Falcon XR8
Human Machine Interface (HMI) with Interior Command Centre S
Multi Function Display including distance to empty, average speed, outside air temperature, average fuel consumption, speed warning S
Cruise control with steering wheel mounted switches S
Steering wheel mounted audio controls S
Sports leather wrapped steering wheel S

Comfort and Convenience

Feature Falcon XR8
Single zone automatic climate control S
Front and rear power windows S
Automatic headlamps ON/OFF feature S
Power adjustable side mirrors S
Alloy pedal covers S
Remote keyless entry with two remote control flip keys S

Seating

Feature Falcon XR8
Cloth trim sports seats S
Leather trim O
Adjustable driver’s lumbar support S
Adjustable passenger’s seat lumbar support S
4-way power driver’s seat S
60/40 split fold-down rear seat back S
Centre rear arm rest with cup holders S

Audio & Communication

Feature Falcon XR8
Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) S
MP3 CD capability S
3.5mm auxilliary audio (iPod) input S
On glass radio antenna S
Satellite navigation system O
Technology Pack: Bluetooth® mobile phone & iPod integration3 O

Safety & Security

Feature Falcon XR8
Driver & front passenger airbags S
Front seat side head/thorax airbags S
Pyrotechnic seatbelt buckle pretensioners S
Advanced restraints module S
Driver’s seat position sensor S
BeltminderTM System S
Dynamic Stability Control incorporating S
– Traction Control S
– Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) S
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) S
Reverse sensing system O
Reverse camera O
Driver fatigue warning S
Childproof locks – rear doors S
Central Locking S

Optional Packs

Feature Falcon XR8
Technology Pack: O
– iPod Integration O
– Bluetooth® mobile phone integration O
XR Luxury Pack O
– Leather trim O
– Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) O
– 19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
– Dual zone automatic climate control O
– Premium sports interior appearance O

Engine

Feature Falcon XR8
Engine Type (Automatic) Boss 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8
Engine size (cc) (Automatic) 5408
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Maximum power (DIN) 290kW @ 5750rpm
Maximum torque (DIN) 520Nm @ 4750rpm
No. of valves 32
Bore & stroke (mm) 90.2 x 105.8mm
Fuel Management system Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
Engine management Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control
Battery 54Ah

Transmissions/Ratios

Feature Falcon XR8
1st – (LPG) 4.17
2nd – (LPG) 2.34
3rd – (LPG) 1.52
4th – (LPG) 1.14
5th – (LPG) 0.87
6th – (LPG) 0.69
Reverse – (LPG) 3.400
Final Drive – (LPG) 2.73

Fuel

Feature Falcon XR8
Fuel tank capacity (L) (Petrol) 68
Combined Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – Petrol 14.0
Combined CO2 Emissions (g/km) – Petrol 334
Recommended fuel (petrol) Reg/Prem Unleaded E10 Compatible

Suspension

Feature Falcon XR8
Front Virtual Pivot Control Link front suspension
Rear Control Blade Independent Rear Sports Suspension

Brakes

Feature Falcon XR8
Front Performance brakes
Rear Standard solid disc brake with single piston caliper
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – Petrol 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) (Petrol Only) Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) incorporates Traction Control System (TCS), Emergancy Brake Assist (EBA) and 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) – Petrol Only

Steering

Feature Falcon XR8
Type Forward mounted power assisted rack and pinion
Steering gear Variable Ratio

Maximum Towing Capacity

Feature Falcon XR8
Braked 2300
Unbraked 1000

Exterior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Overall length 4970
Overall width 1868
Overall height 1453
Wheelbase 2838
Front track 1583
Rear track 1598
Front overhang 954
Rear overhang 1179

Minimum Turning Circle (m)

Feature Falcon XR8
Diameter kerb to kerb 11

Interior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Front headroom 1012
Front legroom 1080
Front shoulder room 1523
Front hip room 1486
Rear headroom 990
Rear legroom 989
Rear shoulder room 1518

Luggage Capacity (L)

Feature Falcon XR8
Petrol 505

S – Standard.
O – Factory Option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.
A – Accessory that can be added at any time.
NCO – No cost option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

ford-falcon-xr8-fg-fq

You can have the Ford Falcon XR8 in any one of a number of deodorant-named colours like Seduce, Octane, Sensation, Breeze and Nitro (which is the blue colour of our test car). And you need it because the XR8 will likely leave you with sweaty armpits if you unleash all 290kW and 520Nm of torque provided by the 5.4-litre Boss V8.

If the 245/45R18 tyres could tell a story it would involve smoking and screaming, but try this in an urban area and it’ll be less the Lynx Effect and more the Lynch Effect. For some people it’s bad enough someone has a noisy V8, without them showing it off.

But I don’t mind offending the precious and sensitive members of this fair nation when I’m driving a car that has a definite purpose: to transport a family and tow things. The XR8’s combined fuel consumption is 14l/100km and there’s 334g of CO2 per kilometre — not that flash compared to an econobox motor, but in line with other towing vehicles. The XR8 will tow 2300kg as long as the trailer is braked (more than some SUVs and crossover vehicles), and that’s enough for a pretty significant boat, caravan or horse float.

It’s the torque that makes the difference, and there’s a visual reminder of it all the time while driving. Peering over the bonnet’s power bulge from the driver’s seat is like standing on the top of a mountain with a snowboard strapped to your feet. You know that over the edge there could be a dramatic increase in speed and potentially some real carnage if you get it wrong.

But that’s not going to be the case. The Falcon rides well, and handles very nicely. Despite the large V8 and its associated bulk at the front end it actually seems to be more neutral than FPV’s GT at speed, and the only noticeable ‘pushing’ into the corners are lower speed tight turns. Though, turn traction control off and it’s easy enough to provoke oversteer.

Acceleration swells pleasantly as revs rise, and it’s only punctuated by smooth changes in the ZF 6-speed automatic gearbox. You can take over the gears with sequential sports shift — sometimes this is handy because the XR8 anticipates your driving style and with spirited motoring will sometimes leave you in a low gear for longer than you need.

Brakes grab sufficiently when you need them, though you have to push through a dead patch in the pedal to get any significant feel — this may have happened if they weren’t bedded in properly.

Ford has done a lot of work on the interior ergonomics and functionality since the BFII range. The stereo now gets a much better and more intuitive graphics package, displayed on a seven-inch colour screen. A six-disc MP3-compatible CD changer is mated to an eight-speaker 150W amplifier and subwoofer package, providing a solid wave of sound throughout the car. I’m not a big fan of the heater and air conditioning controls though, preferring dials as opposed to buttons for temperature and fan control.

This new FG Falcon is the first Australian-built car to receive a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). It scored 34.6 out of 37 points, and was awarded five stars for occupant safety. Ford performance over 5,000 simulated crash tests and 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests during development.

Supporting the structural integrity are driver safety features such as Dynamic Stability Control (which includes traction control and electronic brake assist), ABS and electronic brake force distribution to make sure the maximum braking power is going to each wheel.

Steering feel is reasonably good for a large sedan. The more expensive Fords have a steering wheel that feels good to hold, and the XR8’s features controls for the audio and cruise control, which have been revised to make them easier to use and less intrusive when steering the car.

The overall driving experience of the XR8 is one of effortless cruising power, with the ability to hustle (to an extent) down a more challenging road. The engine tone isn’t intrusive (if you want it to be, there are plenty of aftermarket exhausts that will liberate the V8 Supercar within), the seats are supportive, and the driving position perfect. It does all this without breaking a sweat.

For full specs of the Falcon XR8 click through to the next page.

Price: from $52,290 base model (our car had the optional leather interior)

What we like

  • Bold styling
  • Interesting colours
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Excellent safety rating
  • Cruise control buttons and functionality are better

What we don’t like

  • Brake pedal lacks feel unless you’re really pushing it
  • Reversing sensors are standard in a sub-$20,000 Kia, so why not in the XR8?
  • Air conditioning controls require some learning or you’ll be taking your eyes off the road to achieve the right temperature/fan setting

Engine/Transmission

Feature Falcon XR8
BOSS 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8 S
ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift S

Ride & Handling

Feature Falcon XR8
Virtual Pivot Control Link Front Suspension S
Sports Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) S
18″ x 8″ XR 5-Spoke Alloy with 245/40 R18 tyres S
19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
Full size alloy spare wheel S
Limited slip differential (LSD) S

Exterior

Feature Falcon XR8
Unique XR front bumper S
Sports body kit – side skirts and rear bumper S
Sports rear spoiler S
Front fog lamps S

Instrumentation and Controls

Feature Falcon XR8
Human Machine Interface (HMI) with Interior Command Centre S
Multi Function Display including distance to empty, average speed, outside air temperature, average fuel consumption, speed warning S
Cruise control with steering wheel mounted switches S
Steering wheel mounted audio controls S
Sports leather wrapped steering wheel S

Comfort and Convenience

Feature Falcon XR8
Single zone automatic climate control S
Front and rear power windows S
Automatic headlamps ON/OFF feature S
Power adjustable side mirrors S
Alloy pedal covers S
Remote keyless entry with two remote control flip keys S

Seating

Feature Falcon XR8
Cloth trim sports seats S
Leather trim O
Adjustable driver’s lumbar support S
Adjustable passenger’s seat lumbar support S
4-way power driver’s seat S
60/40 split fold-down rear seat back S
Centre rear arm rest with cup holders S

Audio & Communication

Feature Falcon XR8
Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) S
MP3 CD capability S
3.5mm auxilliary audio (iPod) input S
On glass radio antenna S
Satellite navigation system O
Technology Pack: Bluetooth® mobile phone & iPod integration3 O

Safety & Security

Feature Falcon XR8
Driver & front passenger airbags S
Front seat side head/thorax airbags S
Pyrotechnic seatbelt buckle pretensioners S
Advanced restraints module S
Driver’s seat position sensor S
BeltminderTM System S
Dynamic Stability Control incorporating S
– Traction Control S
– Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) S
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) S
Reverse sensing system O
Reverse camera O
Driver fatigue warning S
Childproof locks – rear doors S
Central Locking S

Optional Packs

Feature Falcon XR8
Technology Pack: O
– iPod Integration O
– Bluetooth® mobile phone integration O
XR Luxury Pack O
– Leather trim O
– Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) O
– 19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
– Dual zone automatic climate control O
– Premium sports interior appearance O

Engine

Feature Falcon XR8
Engine Type (Automatic) Boss 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8
Engine size (cc) (Automatic) 5408
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Maximum power (DIN) 290kW @ 5750rpm
Maximum torque (DIN) 520Nm @ 4750rpm
No. of valves 32
Bore & stroke (mm) 90.2 x 105.8mm
Fuel Management system Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
Engine management Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control
Battery 54Ah

Transmissions/Ratios

Feature Falcon XR8
1st – (LPG) 4.17
2nd – (LPG) 2.34
3rd – (LPG) 1.52
4th – (LPG) 1.14
5th – (LPG) 0.87
6th – (LPG) 0.69
Reverse – (LPG) 3.400
Final Drive – (LPG) 2.73

Fuel

Feature Falcon XR8
Fuel tank capacity (L) (Petrol) 68
Combined Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – Petrol 14.0
Combined CO2 Emissions (g/km) – Petrol 334
Recommended fuel (petrol) Reg/Prem Unleaded E10 Compatible

Suspension

Feature Falcon XR8
Front Virtual Pivot Control Link front suspension
Rear Control Blade Independent Rear Sports Suspension

Brakes

Feature Falcon XR8
Front Performance brakes
Rear Standard solid disc brake with single piston caliper
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – Petrol 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) (Petrol Only) Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) incorporates Traction Control System (TCS), Emergancy Brake Assist (EBA) and 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) – Petrol Only

Steering

Feature Falcon XR8
Type Forward mounted power assisted rack and pinion
Steering gear Variable Ratio

Maximum Towing Capacity

Feature Falcon XR8
Braked 2300
Unbraked 1000

Exterior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Overall length 4970
Overall width 1868
Overall height 1453
Wheelbase 2838
Front track 1583
Rear track 1598
Front overhang 954
Rear overhang 1179

Minimum Turning Circle (m)

Feature Falcon XR8
Diameter kerb to kerb 11

Interior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Front headroom 1012
Front legroom 1080
Front shoulder room 1523
Front hip room 1486
Rear headroom 990
Rear legroom 989
Rear shoulder room 1518

Luggage Capacity (L)

Feature Falcon XR8
Petrol 505

S – Standard.
O – Factory Option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.
A – Accessory that can be added at any time.
NCO – No cost option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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