What is it?
This Aussie bruiser is probably the greatest performance bargain on the face of the planet. While GM brings a re-branded Holden to the UK as the Vauxhall VXR8, Ford of Australia has no plans to put any of the new Falcon XR6 Turbos on the boat to here. Which, on the evidence of the new car, is a real shame.
The XR6 Turbo was introduced in Australia in 2002, a legacy of the late Jaguar/ Land Rover boss Geoff Polites, and it has already developed cult status there, where it’s helped Ford to regain some lost muscle car dignity.
Now there’s a new FG Falcon, with the XR6 Turbo version getting a new blower, exhaust and intake system. Granted, the 4.0-litre straight-six that all this is bolted to is a motor with more relevance to the ice age than the iPod age. But it works. The XR6 Turbo produces 367bhp and takes the Falcon to 62mph in 5.1secs.
By European standards, it’s an outrageous bargain. The A$46,990 pricetag is just £22,000 at current exchange rates.
What’s it like?
The XR6 Turbo lacks horsepower compared to V8 versions of the Commodore (aka VXR8) and its own eight-cylinder XR8 sister, but the motor makes up for the disparity with its eminently accessible torque.
There’s a hefty 393lb ft available from 2000rpm all the way through to 4750rpm.
Squeeze the throttle and there’s barely a whiff of lag - just instantly accessible grunt. Only some wheezing and whistling gives the turbo game away, but it melds perfectly with the purposeful exhaust note and subtle burble on gearchanges. It’s not as refined as BMW’s twin-turbo six, but the response isn’t dissimilar.
The XR6 Turbo comes with a standard six-speed manual box, complete with F1-style launch control. The optional six-speed ZF auto transmission is a better bet, allowing the turbo to maintain boost as it elegantly, yet briskly, shuffles through gears.
It’s an effortless cruiser and a devastatingly effective overtaking tool: tall gearing – great for motorways – means you’ll often be moving faster than the scenery and tacho suggests.