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BA Ford Falcon Ute range


2003 BA Ford Falcon Ute


XL model


XLS model


XR6 and XR6Turbo model


New seats, wheel, controls and more


The XLS stretches its legs on a coastal road


BA Falcon XR8 ute - coming soon

Unless you've been hiding in a cave for the last half-dozen decades, you'd probably be aware of the intense rivarly between Ford and Holden.

Most recently, Holden has dominated the sales charts for large cars in Australia, with the Commodore outselling the Falcon every month for the last sixty or so.

But check out the sales charts for the humble utility, and you'll find that it's a different story.

Ford is always greeted with a comfortable lead over its arch-rival when the sales figures are posted, so it comes as no surprise that Ford is going all out to inform buyers that its new BA ute is here.

Looking for all the world like a 2003 Falcon with a tray, the new ute is a fine looking member of the BA family, which has one major feature that many attribute to the past sales successes of the ute: it has a one-tonne capacity.

The Holden doesn't, which means it misses out on thousands of buyers who need to cart around heavy stuff, like bricks, tools and the odd animal.

The BA Falcon ute will continue to offer the choice of Supercab or Chassis Cab, payloads up to one tonne and towing capacity up to 2300 kg.

But more than just offering a better load carrying capacity, the BA ute gets all of what the BA Falcon sedan gets, such as new seats, which should put a smile on the face of many.

For instance, customers can look forward to a luxurious environment, with the BA ute boasting a total redesign of the interior.

The main feature of the dash is a new Interior Command Centre - or ICC - a prominent centre stack containing a large LCD panel that gives information on air conditioning (cost extra on XL, XLS models), the audio system, trip computer and time.

Ford's Interior Design Manager, Marcus Hotblack, wanted to create a vehicle that put the driver first. "We wanted to create a cockpit feel, with all the necessary controls falling easily to hand.

"We angled the centre console towards the driver and moved the gear shifter rearwards, which helps create an intuitive ergonomic feel."

Marcus said a great deal of attention was paid to the tactile impact of controls in the ute, as well.

"A lot of work went into the feel of the interior surfaces. Items such as braille controls and rubberised thumbwheels help create a ute interior quite unlike those of the past.

"We've created a real prestige feel to the interior, while still maintaining the robustness and useability that's been a hallmark of Falcon ute interiors," Hotblack said.

While on the topic of interiors, the instrument panel and ICC lighting uses latest technology light emitting diodes, or LEDs, which illuminate green for XL and XLS, and blue for XR.

In a bid to improve ergonomics, the instrument cluster has more closely grouped dials that are easier to read in one sweep through the upper arc of the steering wheel.

The other big improvement for the BA ute interior are the seats. With all-new designs, luxurious trims and standard power adjustment across the range the new Falcon ute offers arguably the most well-equipped ute in Australia.

The four-way adjuster controls the height and tilt angle of the seat cushion for greater personal comfort. Both seats will also feature manually adjustable lumbar support and seat back adjustment.

In a first for Australian utes, power adjustable pedals complement the new seats. Though only available on automatic models, the optional brake and accelerator pedals can be moved forward and back over a range of 65mm.

Step outside the comfy new interiors of the BA ute range, and you'll come across a very fine looking vehicle, to boot.

In the eyes of Design Director Simon Butterworth, the BA ute boasts an exterior design combining both elegance and power: "A major contributor to that look is the proportion of the vehicle – or the relationship of wheels to body, the height from the ground and front and rear overhangs. With Falcon Ute we have achieved an excellent stance and visual road presence."

At present there are four main choices in the range: XL, XLS, XR6 and XR6T. The XR8 ute will join the range in early 2003. The entry-level XL Chassis cab ($25,590) looks great with the new BA front-end, particularly the new-look smoked-lens headlights.

But it's the range-topping XR6T ($39,675) that takes the cake in the styling department. With the XR-type headlights, massive foglights, full body-kit, 17-inch alloys and an oh-so-smooth rear-end (complete with chrome exhaust), the new turbocharged Ford ute will give even the HSV Maloo a run for its money.

Butterworth concluded: "In addition, the clean contemporary surface language combined with simple, geometric line work and great attention to detail, gives the ute a solid, premium look of refined power."

And speaking of refined power, those with a restless right foot will be pleased to hear that power on even the base models is substantially higher than not only the AU ute, but also the Holden VY ute.

All BA utes get 80-litre fuel tanks, while in the base model XL ute, potential buyers will feel the almost-V8 level of torque, with a stonkning 380Nm on offer from as low as 3250rpm. Peak power for the 4.0-litre Barra 182 mill is 182kW @ 5000rpm, while the rev ceiling has been raised to 6000rpm.

If you just have to have 8-cylinders, and can't wait for the beefed up 260kW Boss V8, which arrives in the XR8 ute in 2003, the Barra 220kW 5.4-litre V8 ships as a $5000 option, but also includes ABS. The 5.4-litre DOHC V8 makes 220kW @ 4750rpm and 20Nm more than turbocharged six, taking peak torque to 470Nm which occurs @ 3250rpm.

The XR6 ute ($34,205) gets the same 182kW inline six-cylinder powerplant as other models, but gets all the other goodies of the XR6T, such as aggressive bodykit, fog lights, alloy wheels and dollied-up interior. The turbo XR6 gets same appointments as the XR6, but benefits from what is arguably the best Australian-built mill doing the rounds at present.

Making a prodigious 450Nm at a bowel-shaking 2000rpm, peak power figures of 240kW @ 5250rpm back up the Turbo's serious intentions. Those who are looking for a more economical utility, however, would be best advised to check out the new LPG technology invested in the Barra engine program. The new E-Gas engine offers the best of both worlds.

Boasting an impressive 156kW and 372Nm, the E-Gas BA Falcon ute has all the economic benefits of LPG without compromising on performance.

The Falcon BA ute rear suspension retains the tried and tested live rear axle , specifically for its excellent load carrying capacity.

However, all elements of the rear suspension have been retuned to offer improved ride performance, while maintaining established Falcon values including safe, reliable handling, towing capabilities and robustness.

New shock absorbers have been incorporated in the rear. The bigger diameter (36mm compared to 30mm on AU) and lower friction shock absorber offers improved ride comfort and greater resistance to overheating.

Dynamics engineers have also included a voided bush, replacing the solid bush used previously, to improve NVH. Falcon’s renowned steering system has been comprehensively overhauled to provide even greater driver involvement and precision as well.

"Drivers will notice an improved linearity between steering inputs and the car’s response, adding to peace-of-mind motoring," said Chassis Development Manager Alex de Vlugt.

The BA Falcon Ute is available in three levels of suspension tune – Standard, Sports and One Tonne. The XL Styleside Box is available with Standard Suspension that rides on Dunlop 215/60 R16 tyres. The Chassis Cab version features the One Tonne Suspension set-up, featuring heavier leaf springs, a slightly raised ride height and Dunlop 215/60 R16 C (Commercial) tyres. The One Tonne Suspension package is optional on the XL Styleside Box.

The XLS comes standard with the Sports Suspension pack, which rides 20mm lower than the Standard Suspension and features stiffer front and rear springs and FPV-supplied sports shock absorbers. They ride on lower profile Dunlop 215/55 R16 tyres. The One Tonne Suspension is optional on XLS, while Sports Suspension is the only available set-up on XR6 and XR6 Turbo Utes.

More than just a safe and comfortable way to carry your tools and cargo, Ford is keen to push the lifestyle aspect of the new BA ute. Indeed, it's the only two-door vehicle in the BA line-up, and will appeal to the young lads who like to show off, not just those looking for a hardy workhorse. Together with the current success of the AU ute, Ford gurus are upbeat about the future of the BA ute: "The Falcon Ute is one of Australian motoring's genuine success stories, enjoying unprecedented levels of dominance in the sales market," said 4WD and Commercial Vehicle Marketing Manager, Kevin Lillie.

"To improve on that we had to offer an exceptional ute, and the BA Falcon Ute certainly delivers on that front. The list of changes is enormous – all aimed at providing the ultimate tool for work and play," he said.

The Ford vs Holden battle persists and, while Ford's status as the #1 utility retailer in the country is likely to continue unabated, the war is far from over. Still, Ford's new ute is easily its finest yet, but it is other markets in which the Blue Oval's performance needs to improve...

Pricing:

Falcon Ute XL Chassis Cab $25,590
Falcon Ute XL Styleside Box $26,190
Falcon Ute XLS Chassis Cab $28,580
Falcon Ute XLS Styleside Box $29,380
Falcon Ute XR6 Styleside Box $34,205
Falcon Ute XR6 Turbo Styleside Box $39,675
Barra 220 5.4-litre V8 (inc ABS) $5000
E-Gas DLPG $1100
Sequential Sports Shift $920
Four-speed column automatic $770
Leather Seats (XR) $1015
Aluminium Tray $1220
Cruise Control $460
Tonneau Cover $255
Hard Tonneau Cover $1695
Air conditioning (XL, XLS) $2250
LSD $470
ABS $930
Towpack (1600 kg) $345
Premium brakes $2950
Heavy duty suspension $470
Passenger airbag $495

 

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