BA Ford Falcon MkII: First Look
By Feann Torr
BA Ford Falcon MkII
XR6 Turbo and XR8 models
get new 6-speed gearbox
MkII badging is the best way to ID a 2005 Falc'
The new 17-inch MkII XR6 alloy wheels
The Fairmont Ghia sporting one
of the new MkII colour schemes
In addition to being the first update to the Falcon since
late '02, Ford's MkII Falcon could also be seen as a response
to Holden's new VZ Commodore.
Due in October 2004, there's not a great deal of change to
the major aspects of Ford's large car, such as exterior design
or power output, but items like new alloy wheels and a cracking
new six-speed manual transmission will attract attention.
While Holden's game plan is now clear - a new look, more
powerful 6-cylinder engines and new transmissions - the BA
Falcon MkII will help keep interest levels from dropping.
At least, that's the idea.
Ford's fresh new take on the Falcon will be more about improvement
than a revolutionary ream of changes.
As such, the Falcon MkII will offer better value, including
standard appointments such as cruise control and automatic
headlamps throughout the Falcon range, while power adjustable
pedals and side airbags are now standard on the Futura model.
The Falcon Ute range also features heavily in the MkII upgrade,
with new creature comforts, alloy rims and new paint colours.
"This update signals Ford Australia's intention to continue
providing locally designed and engineered product that motivates
people into Ford showrooms," Ford Australia President
Tom Gorman said.
Perhaps the biggest change in the BA MkII range is the addition
of the new 6-speed manual gearbox in high-performance XR models.
The Tremec T56 six-speed manual transmission has seen service
in such vehicles as the Ford Mustang Cobra R and the exotic
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, putting the XR8 and XR6 Turbo MkII
models in good company.
The transmission will come with a unique gear set for both
the XR6 Turbo and XR8, designed to match each engine's unique
The final drive ratio in the XR8 has changed from 3.23 to
3.46, while the XR6 Turbo final drive ratio has shortened
from 3.46 to 3.73.
The new manual trannie will give both the XR8 and XR6 Turbo
models slightly better acceleration and improved fuel efficiency
- due to the extra ratio - which was one of the major criticisms
of the XR8.
Furthermore, the T56 unit comes equipped with double synchros
(synchromesh) in all six forward gears, ensuring a "sweet
shifting movement" in Ford speak.
The new 6-speed transmission will also make its way into
the FPV range, including F6
Typhoon, which will be shown at the Sydney Motor Show
on October 7, 2004.
But why only include the new six cog gearbox on just two
general models and a handful of niche performance cars from
At first glance, such a move could be seen as a very short-term
solution to battle Holden's new VZ Commodore range, but this
is not entirely the case, as Ford president Tom Gorman explains:
"XR led the showroom charge in the BA range, increasing
sales mix from 6.8 per cent of total Falcon sales in 2002
to more than 27 per cent in 2004."
"Now our new Tremec T56 6-speed manual transmission,
fine tuned by the FPV engineers to provide optimum performance,
adds the final touch to the performance line-up, resulting
in improved performance feel," Gorman stated.
That 27 per cent of XR sales equates to almost a third of
all Falcon's sold in 2004, so it comes as no surprise that
the range-topping XR8 muscle car has also been gifted with
a suspension tweak. Performance vehicle planning manager Gordon
Barfield talks about the new gearbox and suspension changes:
"The BA MkII XR6 Turbo and XR8 confirms Ford as the
manufacturer providing enthusiast cars for enthusiast drivers.
Drivers will appreciate the improved performance feel, while
still having a gearbox that offers tractable performance through
all the gears at typical driving speeds.
"Fifth gear is well suited to the 60km/h speed limit
and sixth gear pulls strongly below 100km/h offering peace-of-mind
motoring. The close ratios in the new gearbox make it easy
to select the right gear for the right occasion.
"Firmer spring rates have sharpened the steering response
on the XR8 with a flatter ride and nimbler handling designed
to further improve the athletic nature of the car," Barfield
Other general changes to the Falcon MkII range includes a
new set of five-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels on XR6 and XR6
Turbo models, while the XR8 now gets 18-inch wheels as standard,
much like the VZ Commodore SS.
The new alloy rims on the XR6 and XR6 Turbo retain the classic
five-spoke design while Fairmont Ghia boasts an elegant new
diamond turned nine-spoke alloy. The Falcon colour palette
has been enhanced by the MkII update, with the addition of
four exciting new colours.
Shockwave is inspired by the BA Falcon's successes
on the track, adding a "wave of uninhibited excitement"
to the clean lines of the Falcon exterior.
Blaze is a rich metallic gold, most likely to be seen
on luxury models.
Velocity is a youthful blue epitomising stand-out performance.
Expect plenty of XR models to be ordered in this sky blue-ish
Rapid is a searing hot yellow not for the faint hearted
(and likely to offend many pairs of eyes).
Falcon MkII customers will also enjoy an expanded range of
accessories, with the addition of several roof storage options
originally designed for the Territory and also traction control
will be offered on some manual models.
The MkII Falcon can be optioned with a bike carrier, canoe/kayak
holder, 375 litre or 405 litre roof luggage box or ski/snowboard
Inside, a practical new 15-litre 'Day Tripper' car fridge
is now available, while the addition of a games adapter ensures
the optional REX3 DVD system can play the latest Xbox, Playstation
2 or Game Cube video games.
The BA Falcon has made great inroads for Ford in the large
car market since its late 2002 introduction, managing to restore
the vehicle's credibility after the underperforming AU model
Falcon of the late 1990s, and the MkII has a tough job ahead
if it's to keep that momentum going.
While the new Commodore may push the Falcon out of spotlight
for the next few months, Holden may well rue the fact that
Ford upgraded its performance gearbox, and of course the XR8's
suspension, as the all important flagship VZ SS Commodore
versus BAII XR8 Falcon will be incredibly hard fought.
Stay tuned to the Motoring Channel for full reviews of the
VZ Commodore and BAII Falcon models.