DEARBORN, US: Ford Falcon XR8 will be available next year, but it has already attracted a huge number of ‘true’ luxurious car lovers even before its launch.
Visually, while there may be no doubt that the first XR8 since 2010 looks like a member of the new FG X Falcon family, underneath sit the mechanicals of the GT R Spec that cost $76,990 plus on-road costs before it disappeared earlier this year, along with the Ford Performance Vehicles brand that made it.
The Ford Falcon XR8 costs $24,500 less, starting at $52,490. Those with good memories will recall the 2010 XR8 cost only $45,490, but the latest – and last – V8 Falcon serves up so much more. It’s a V8-powered Falcon that encourages drivers to search for rather than hide from corners – one that can be pushed harder than before without encountering premature understeer or a pogo-like front end.
The Ford Falcon XR8 still feels more nose-heavy than an XR6 Turbo, but it turns in directly, the steering prone to some rack rattle but delivering welcome heft and precision.
That back end will only be too happy to swing out if you get over-enthusiastic with your right foot, though measuring out the amount of power you want to apply in a corner is made easier by the responsive and linear nature of the supercharged V8.
Between corners you can also accelerate to enjoy the V8’s forceful pull from low revs that quickly morphs into an unrelenting surge towards the 6000rpm redline – the supercharger whine adding to, not subtracting from, the experience.
The new Sync 2 infotainment system from the Ford-Microsoft joint venture raises the Falcon’s connectivity game. It makes an immediate positive impression with the prominent, 8.0-inch colour touchscreen. The presentation is sharp while using the system couldn’t be simpler.
From the homescreen, the four key function areas of phone/navigation/entertainment/climate are divided into colour-coded quadrants. Just press on one of these ‘smart corners’, as Ford calls them, and you’re taken to the respective selection display.
The true value of the XR8, however, comes from what lies beneath: that powerful supercharged V8 and expertly honed chassis that create a genuine rival not only for a Commodore SS but also an HSV Clubsport. If you’re a Ford V8 diehard and the Mustang coming in late 2015 isn’t your thing, it’s time to act.