Ford's storming XR8 unleashed
2003 Ford Falcon XR8 (260km speedo)
This XR8 is fitted with optional 18-inch alloys
A power buldge to end all buldge disputes
Ford has HSV firmly in its sights...
Power to cash ratio is impressive
Boss 260 powerplant: 500Nm @ 4250rpm
XR interior shown with optional leather
The 260kW/350bhp XR8
While the Holden executives at Fishermans Bend are far from
shaking in their boots, the Blue Oval looks to be on the comeback
The new BA Falcon is a fine looking motor, with plenty of
refined power, and many are comparing its solid onroad manner
to those of Germanic cars.
But one of the most telling signs that Ford is doing something
right are the booming sales of its XR models, the spiritual
arch-nemeses of Holdens S and SS models.
Indeed, XR Falcon sales reached new heights in December 2002,
smashing all previous records.
Ford big-wig Geoff Polites said there had been unprecedented
interest in XR Falcon since the launch of the award-winning
BA Falcon range.
"We sold 972 XR Falcons in December, compared with our
best ever AU Falcon XR month of 507 units and thats
without a BA XR8 in the mix.
"The December XR Falcon result was more than three times
our monthly average for the first ten months of 2002."
With strong back orders for the Falcon XR8, Mr Polites is
confident of achieving new sales records in the near future.
"Despite the lack of availability of test-drive vehicles
in dealerships, we have had a number of customers place deposits
on XR8s," he stated.
While the BA Falcon XR8 is here at last, it is in manual
guise only. Testament to the power of the newly-developed
'Boss 260' mill is the fact that Ford needs more time to reinforce
the auto transmission to cope with the copious amounts of
While no specific dates are set, Ford is indicating that
the auto version will be on sale in Q2, which means anywhere
between April and July.
Furthermore, an interesting scenario could develop: When
Subaru released the Liberty B4, the 190+ kW couldn't be mated
to an auto, and with more buyers wanting an auto, they simply
reduced power by about 15kW. As such, it wouldn't come as
a surprise if Ford released an automatic 250kW XR8.
But here and now, the manual is on offer, so let's take a
gander at what you'll get for 50 large.
The XR8 gets 17-inch alloy wheel with shod with Dunlop SP3000
235/45 ZR17 tyres, while discerning buyers will want more
to differentiate their vehicle from the XR6. As such, an optional
18-inch, five-spoke alloy with Dunlop SP9000 245/40 ZR18 tyres
is also available for $1500, and to brutally frank, it's one
of sexiest wheel designs Ford's ever produced.
The Falcon XR8 also features a number of standard safety
features including traction control, ABS and limited slip
differential. Side airbags are a $500 option, while a $2950
premium brake package is also available.
The premium brake package includes unique discs and callipers:
The front discs are 325mm in diameter and 32mm thick, compared
to 298mm and 28mm on the standard Falcon, while both front
and rear discs are grooved to improve cooling.
One of the biggest talking points, however, is the new Falcon
XR8's rather menacing power buldge, which - we discovered
at the Sydney Motor Show in October - isn't just a cosmetic
The Falcon XR8 like its GT sibling due later this
year boasts a specific Boss power bulge bonnet that
is factory-styled, tooled and stamped as a single steel panel.
This ensures that the engine's position in the engine bay
and vital performance equipment are not dictated by low bonnet
height. It also helps generate the required ground clearance
for the sump and allows additional airflow around the engine
The Boss 260 engine is produced on the only V8 engine assembly
line in Australia, developing a prodigious 260kW of power
@ 5250rpm and 500Nm of torque @ 4250rpm.
And the fact of the matter is, these new V8 sedans and utes
have slightly better power figures than most of HSV's range
- though a bulky kerb weight will come back to haunt them
when the lights go to green...
As David Flint, Ford Performance Vehicles head-honcho, explains,
the new engine is quite an advancement for the Australian
automotive industry. "The new engine is not only unique
in the Ford world, but is built here in Australia starting
from just bare blocks and heads.
"We have maintained and built upon the standard previously
set by Tickford to produce a premium performance engine that
specifically meets Australian requirements." concluded
The all-new 5.4-litre V8 boasts quad camshafts (two per cylinder
bank), four valves per cylinder, high flow cylinder heads
and stainless steel extractors for better engine breathing
and of course crisp eight-cylinder music.
The Boss 260 cylinder block is made from cast-iron for improved
durability under high torque loading, able to maintain tolerances
better than what would an aluminium block. Interestingly,
the oil pump is driven directly by the crank, so the oil pump
is working whenever the engine is running.
The aforementioned twin overhead camshafts per bank, together
with four valves per cylinder, produce a deep breathing, high
performance engine offering consistent power and torque delivery
right up to the red line.
Although these heads add extra weight over a pushrod engine,
this is more than offset by power and efficiency gains.
The cylinder heads are cast in aluminium alloy to minimize
weight increase of larger heads and extra valves, plus they
help the Boss 260 to reach operating temperature faster. The
heads also take advantage of an improved Cobra R design with
a better breathing, straighter inlet port, while hollow camshafts
reduce weight and inertia while offering faster response.
Borrowing more parts from the race-bred Cobra, the Boss 260
gets a low restriction air-intake system developed and manufactured
in Australia, but incorporating the high volume conical filter
element from the Mustang Cobra.
Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) builds each Boss engine from
bare blocks and heads, adding a wide range of local upgrades
and internals on a new $1.5 million assembly track. Polites
reckons the local assembly approach delivers unbeatable value
in V8 motoring.
"To get a quad-cam V8 that delivers the level of power
of the Boss 260, you'd be looking at a price tag well into
six figures," Mr Polites said. The new V8 is mated to
a Tremec T3650 five-speed manual gearbox designed to handle
high torque applications, then linked to a 3.23 axle ratio.
The XR8 package also includes stiffer sports suspension,
a fancy bodykit, fog lamps, dual horns and a unique chrome-tipped
exhaust outlet. Inside, the Falcon XR8 comes complete with
sports seats, a sports instrument cluster with blue backlighting
and a leather steering wheel.
At the end of the day, the new V8 is likely to generate more
sales for Ford, but many are still questioning whether the
heavier XR8 will offer significantly improved performance
over the impressive turbocharged XR6: Weighing in at 1795kg,
this ain't no feater-weight.
Still, Ford reckons fuel consumption will be about 12.5 litres/100
km for city cycle and 9.2 litres/100 km for the highway, which
is pretty good for a small block V8.
But regardless of whether of the XR8 is only two-tenths quicker
down the quarter mile than the turbo six, there will always
be demand for V8s in Australia, and seeing as this is now
the most advanced Australian-built eight, it had a solid future
Sedan man: $50,130
XR8 Sedan auto: $51,050
XR8 Ute man: $40,925
XR8 Ute auto: $41,845
DOHC 32-valve V8
kW at 5250 rpm
Nm at 4250 rpm
T3650 five-speed manual
and lower control arm, coil springs, 24 mm anti-roll
Blade IRS, coil springs, 19 mm anti-roll bar
Spring rates: 70 N/mm (f); 38 N/mm (r)
x 8-inch alloy; Optional 18 x 8-inch
SP Sport 3000 235/45; Optional Dunlop SP Sport 9000
degrees (f); -0.5 degrees (r)
caliper, 298 x 28 mm vented discs (f); single-piston
caliper, 303 x 16 mm solid disc (r). Optional premium
package - twin-piston caliper, 325 x 32 mm grooved and
vented discs (f); 303 x 16 mm grooved disc (r)
mm (f); 1575 mm (r)
12.5 litres/100 km; Highway 9.2 litres/100 km
(sedan); $40,925 (ute)
wheel and tyre package -
brake package -
sound system -
Satellite Navigation -