Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the final Ford Falcon XR8.
I’ve always been a bit of a Ford Falcon XR8 fan and remember when the original EB Series XR8 arrived back in the very early 1990’s.
I ended up having an EF Series XR8 and it was an enjoyable and pretty easy car to live with.
Things are a little more extreme though with this 2015 Ford Falcon XR8.
Under the bonnet is a supercharged 5.0 litre V8 that produces 335kW and 570Nm and, needless to say, that propels the big Falcon sedan along with quite a bit of enthusiasm!
For the record, that original EB XR8 boasted only 165kW and 388Nm – how things have changed.
So, what’s the new one like away from the massive power and torque on offer? Well, it’s pretty good but really only when you factor in the reasonable pricing.
Kicking off from $53,490 for the XR8 with a six-speed manual transmission, the six-speed auto version is yours from $55,690. From there you don’t have many factory options on offer, basically every paint colour other than white will cost you an extra $500 and a tow pack is an additional $550.
With standard features including 19” alloy wheels, body kit, four spot front brake calipers, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, sat-nav and digital radio there’s really not much more you could want for in a high-performance sedan.
The driver’s seat is only semi-automatic and heated seats aren’t an option. The Ford Falcon XR8 comes with leather steering wheel and transmission selector and partial leather seat trims.
Obviously the engine provides excellent acceleration from a standing start (keep the traction control on!), has a mountain of pulling power and a very sweet supercharger ‘whirl’ and deep and throaty exhaust note (something the SS Commodore has lost in recent times).
It’s a very easy engine to drive around with in normal conditions and is a delight on the open highway.
The six-speed automatic transmission does an admiral job of keeping up with the engine and the sports shift gate provides a noticeable shift in power delivery.
The Brembo brakes are up to the job and the Ford engineers have done a reasonably good job of providing a sporty suspension set-up that also does its best to soak up the bumps.
The super low profile tyres (35 series front and 30 series rear) however remove any chance that you aren’t aware you are in a sports-focussed model though.
I was surprised at just how good the XR8’s fuel economy was! The claimed urban consumption rate is 20.6L/100km; I managed a very reasonable (in comparison) 15.0L/100km in my week of city/suburban driving.
The official claimed combined figure for the big V8 supercharged Falcon is 13.7L/100km.
Something else I was impressed with was turning circle which was much tighter than I had expected (especially after driving the Ford Focus ST last week).
Other good bits include the roomy cabin with plenty of storage spots, easy fold-down rear seat, and sizeable boot, and overall build quality.
There were a couple of areas though that took some of the shine off. Firstly, the steering is just ridiculously heavy. Yes, this is a sports model, but it’s simply too heavy to be enjoyable and is that un-user friendly that it actually feels dull, vague and disinterested.
In fact, ever drive a car with a couple of front tyres that are well down on air pressure? That’s kind of how it feels.
As observed when I drove some of the lower-spec Falcon models over the past few years – there just isn’t enough steering wheel tilt adjustment, especially in upwards adjustment, in my opinion.
The interior, especially the centre control stack, is also looking and feeling extremely dated in 2015. Granted though that the SYNC2 infotainment system is a real highlight!
Buy the current series XR8 and you also miss out on key-less entry and have to put up with an old fashioned flip out key and key ignition. The central locking buttons on the key fob from the car I tested were also looking tired and worn despite the fact the car had only 14,000kms on the clock.
Safety is covered in the 2015 Ford Falcon range by a full five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up; the Ford Falcon XR8 is definitely going out on a high.
It’s anything but cutting edge, it’s not smart, it’s not sensible and it’s almost got a museum-piece feel about it!
But, the pricing is spot-on, the engine is awesome and this is most likely the last true Australian-built muscle car.
If you have some cash and are looking for an investment, or a weekend tourer, then the last of the XR8 Falcon’s from Ford Australia is a good, fun bet.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Ford Falcon XR8
Engine: 5.0 litre V8 supercharged producing 335kW and 570Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed auto
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $53,490