Ford Falcon XR8 FG 2008 Review

September 10th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


You can have the Ford Falcon XR8 in any one of a number of deodorant-named colours like Seduce, Octane, Sensation, Breeze and Nitro (which is the blue colour of our test car). And you need it because the XR8 will likely leave you with sweaty armpits if you unleash all 290kW and 520Nm of torque provided by the 5.4-litre Boss V8.

If the 245/45R18 tyres could tell a story it would involve smoking and screaming, but try this in an urban area and it’ll be less the Lynx Effect and more the Lynch Effect. For some people it’s bad enough someone has a noisy V8, without them showing it off.

But I don’t mind offending the precious and sensitive members of this fair nation when I’m driving a car that has a definite purpose: to transport a family and tow things. The XR8’s combined fuel consumption is 14l/100km and there’s 334g of CO2 per kilometre — not that flash compared to an econobox motor, but in line with other towing vehicles. The XR8 will tow 2300kg as long as the trailer is braked (more than some SUVs and crossover vehicles), and that’s enough for a pretty significant boat, caravan or horse float.

It’s the torque that makes the difference, and there’s a visual reminder of it all the time while driving. Peering over the bonnet’s power bulge from the driver’s seat is like standing on the top of a mountain with a snowboard strapped to your feet. You know that over the edge there could be a dramatic increase in speed and potentially some real carnage if you get it wrong.

But that’s not going to be the case. The Falcon rides well, and handles very nicely. Despite the large V8 and its associated bulk at the front end it actually seems to be more neutral than FPV’s GT at speed, and the only noticeable ‘pushing’ into the corners are lower speed tight turns. Though, turn traction control off and it’s easy enough to provoke oversteer.

Acceleration swells pleasantly as revs rise, and it’s only punctuated by smooth changes in the ZF 6-speed automatic gearbox. You can take over the gears with sequential sports shift — sometimes this is handy because the XR8 anticipates your driving style and with spirited motoring will sometimes leave you in a low gear for longer than you need.

Brakes grab sufficiently when you need them, though you have to push through a dead patch in the pedal to get any significant feel — this may have happened if they weren’t bedded in properly.

Ford has done a lot of work on the interior ergonomics and functionality since the BFII range. The stereo now gets a much better and more intuitive graphics package, displayed on a seven-inch colour screen. A six-disc MP3-compatible CD changer is mated to an eight-speaker 150W amplifier and subwoofer package, providing a solid wave of sound throughout the car. I’m not a big fan of the heater and air conditioning controls though, preferring dials as opposed to buttons for temperature and fan control.

This new FG Falcon is the first Australian-built car to receive a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). It scored 34.6 out of 37 points, and was awarded five stars for occupant safety. Ford performance over 5,000 simulated crash tests and 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests during development.

Supporting the structural integrity are driver safety features such as Dynamic Stability Control (which includes traction control and electronic brake assist), ABS and electronic brake force distribution to make sure the maximum braking power is going to each wheel.

Steering feel is reasonably good for a large sedan. The more expensive Fords have a steering wheel that feels good to hold, and the XR8’s features controls for the audio and cruise control, which have been revised to make them easier to use and less intrusive when steering the car.

The overall driving experience of the XR8 is one of effortless cruising power, with the ability to hustle (to an extent) down a more challenging road. The engine tone isn’t intrusive (if you want it to be, there are plenty of aftermarket exhausts that will liberate the V8 Supercar within), the seats are supportive, and the driving position perfect. It does all this without breaking a sweat.

For full specs of the Falcon XR8 click through to the next page.

Price: from $52,290 base model (our car had the optional leather interior)

What we like

  • Bold styling
  • Interesting colours
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Excellent safety rating
  • Cruise control buttons and functionality are better

What we don’t like

  • Brake pedal lacks feel unless you’re really pushing it
  • Reversing sensors are standard in a sub-$20,000 Kia, so why not in the XR8?
  • Air conditioning controls require some learning or you’ll be taking your eyes off the road to achieve the right temperature/fan setting


Feature Falcon XR8
BOSS 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8 S
ZF 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Sports Shift S

Ride & Handling

Feature Falcon XR8
Virtual Pivot Control Link Front Suspension S
Sports Control Blade Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) S
18″ x 8″ XR 5-Spoke Alloy with 245/40 R18 tyres S
19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
Full size alloy spare wheel S
Limited slip differential (LSD) S


Feature Falcon XR8
Unique XR front bumper S
Sports body kit – side skirts and rear bumper S
Sports rear spoiler S
Front fog lamps S

Instrumentation and Controls

Feature Falcon XR8
Human Machine Interface (HMI) with Interior Command Centre S
Multi Function Display including distance to empty, average speed, outside air temperature, average fuel consumption, speed warning S
Cruise control with steering wheel mounted switches S
Steering wheel mounted audio controls S
Sports leather wrapped steering wheel S

Comfort and Convenience

Feature Falcon XR8
Single zone automatic climate control S
Front and rear power windows S
Automatic headlamps ON/OFF feature S
Power adjustable side mirrors S
Alloy pedal covers S
Remote keyless entry with two remote control flip keys S


Feature Falcon XR8
Cloth trim sports seats S
Leather trim O
Adjustable driver’s lumbar support S
Adjustable passenger’s seat lumbar support S
4-way power driver’s seat S
60/40 split fold-down rear seat back S
Centre rear arm rest with cup holders S

Audio & Communication

Feature Falcon XR8
Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) S
MP3 CD capability S
3.5mm auxilliary audio (iPod) input S
On glass radio antenna S
Satellite navigation system O
Technology Pack: Bluetooth® mobile phone & iPod integration3 O

Safety & Security

Feature Falcon XR8
Driver & front passenger airbags S
Front seat side head/thorax airbags S
Pyrotechnic seatbelt buckle pretensioners S
Advanced restraints module S
Driver’s seat position sensor S
BeltminderTM System S
Dynamic Stability Control incorporating S
– Traction Control S
– Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) S
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) S
Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) S
Reverse sensing system O
Reverse camera O
Driver fatigue warning S
Childproof locks – rear doors S
Central Locking S

Optional Packs

Feature Falcon XR8
Technology Pack: O
– iPod Integration O
– Bluetooth® mobile phone integration O
XR Luxury Pack O
– Leather trim O
– Premium audio system with 7″ colour display, AM/FM radio, 6-disc in-dash CD and 8 speakers plus 150 watt amplifier and sub-woofer (total 112 watts) O
– 19″ x 8″ XR 5-spoke alloy wheels – 245/35 R19 tyres O
– Dual zone automatic climate control O
– Premium sports interior appearance O


Feature Falcon XR8
Engine Type (Automatic) Boss 290 5.4L DOHC 4V V8
Engine size (cc) (Automatic) 5408
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Maximum power (DIN) 290kW @ 5750rpm
Maximum torque (DIN) 520Nm @ 4750rpm
No. of valves 32
Bore & stroke (mm) 90.2 x 105.8mm
Fuel Management system Sequential multipoint electronic fuel injection
Engine management Powertrain control module incorporating electronic throttle control
Battery 54Ah


Feature Falcon XR8
1st – (LPG) 4.17
2nd – (LPG) 2.34
3rd – (LPG) 1.52
4th – (LPG) 1.14
5th – (LPG) 0.87
6th – (LPG) 0.69
Reverse – (LPG) 3.400
Final Drive – (LPG) 2.73


Feature Falcon XR8
Fuel tank capacity (L) (Petrol) 68
Combined Fuel consumption: ADR 81/01 (L/100km – rounded) – Petrol 14.0
Combined CO2 Emissions (g/km) – Petrol 334
Recommended fuel (petrol) Reg/Prem Unleaded E10 Compatible


Feature Falcon XR8
Front Virtual Pivot Control Link front suspension
Rear Control Blade Independent Rear Sports Suspension


Feature Falcon XR8
Front Performance brakes
Rear Standard solid disc brake with single piston caliper
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) – Petrol 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA)
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) (Petrol Only) Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) incorporates Traction Control System (TCS), Emergancy Brake Assist (EBA) and 4-channel ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) – Petrol Only


Feature Falcon XR8
Type Forward mounted power assisted rack and pinion
Steering gear Variable Ratio

Maximum Towing Capacity

Feature Falcon XR8
Braked 2300
Unbraked 1000

Exterior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Overall length 4970
Overall width 1868
Overall height 1453
Wheelbase 2838
Front track 1583
Rear track 1598
Front overhang 954
Rear overhang 1179

Minimum Turning Circle (m)

Feature Falcon XR8
Diameter kerb to kerb 11

Interior Dimensions (mm)

Feature Falcon XR8
Front headroom 1012
Front legroom 1080
Front shoulder room 1523
Front hip room 1486
Rear headroom 990
Rear legroom 989
Rear shoulder room 1518

Luggage Capacity (L)

Feature Falcon XR8
Petrol 505

S – Standard.
O – Factory Option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.
A – Accessory that can be added at any time.
NCO – No cost option that can be ordered before a vehicle is manufactured.

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Ford Fiesta coming to New Zealand in 2009

September 10th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Ford Fiesta fq

Ford New Zealand has today confirmed the new Ford Fiesta will be sold in New Zealand, launching in Q1 2009.

The all-new model, conceived and developed by the European arm of Ford’s global product development team, is the first of a generation of new global, small Ford cars which will be developed, designed and built for a single global customer base.

“The Fiesta is the first product of the Ford Global Product Development system and is a tangible example of Ford becoming a single, global company designing and building cars for customers around the world.

It features a dramatic exterior design that is accentuated by the bold use of colour and exciting interior styling.

The very first Fiesta was launched in 1976 and since then has sold over 12 million units.

“The vehicle is eye-catching, bold and stylish — the perfect compliment to our comprehensive line-up in New Zealand,” says Richard Matheson, MD of Ford NZ.

Ford New Zealand is not able to confirm which variants will be available in New Zealand.

All-new Ford Ka to debut at Paris Motor Show

September 9th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Ford Ka 2009 fq

The new Ford Ka replaces the iconic original Ka, launched in 1996. The original Ka was significantly ugly from the back, and because Ford hasn’t sent us any shots from the rear we hope it’s been addressed. The front certainly looks the part – sleek and tidy, featuring Ford’s kinetic design language styling cues.

No release date has been set for New Zealand, but European customers will get their grubby mitts on them late this year or early 2009. Stylish and fashionable.

The new car has approximately the same proportions as its predecessor and will be marketed as being a youthful, funky option for urban driving. Ford even took the Ka to Nürburgring in Germany for performance testing to make sure the driving dynamics were right.

Europe will get two economical, low emission engine options: a 1.2-litre 69 PS Duratec petrol engine and, for the first time on Ka, a 1.3-litre 75 PS Duratorq TDCi turbodiesel.

Both petrol and diesel models are available with sub-120g/km CO2 emissions.

The 1.2-litre petrol model, which is expected to be the largest seller in the all-new range, has cut fuel consumption by 21 per cent compared to the previous 1.3-litre Ka.

The diesel model — available on the Ka for the first time — improves economy still further, achieving a combined fuel consumption of 3.5l/100km.

There will be four trim/specification levels, and options including Bluetooth phone kit.

The all-new Ford Ka has been developed as part of a common project with Fiat. The vehicle is produced at the modern Fiat manufacturing plant in Tychy, Poland, sharing the production line with the Fiat 500 model.

The original Ford Ka was launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1996. Sales soon took off across Europe, with a total of over 1,460,000 vehicles produced.

Airport to city in a new Falcon – and you’re driving

September 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


There’s a brand spankers Ford Falcon XR8 sitting in the Car and SUV garage right now, so we were intrigued when Ford sent us through details of this offer.

For the next two weeks, if you arrive in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, you can choose to drive to your city centre destination in a new FG Falcon. For free.

By booking online at or by calling 0508 FIRSTCLASS, travelers arriving between the hours of 7am — 11am or 4pm — 8pm at Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch airports can be met by a Ford representative and a new FG Falcon ready to transport them to their city centre destination.

Volkswagen takes 3rd place from Ford in world rankings

August 29th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

The Volkswagen Group has taken its place among the world’s top three automakers thanks to the Wolfsburg-based company’s outstanding delivery figures in the first half of 2008. Rival Ford has to settle for fourth position.

“We are delighted that the Volkswagen Group has made it to the global automobile industry’s top three for the first time. This shows that we are on the right track with our ever-stronger international presence and, above all, our product program. We will systematically push ahead with our growth course even in the present difficult market environment,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, commented.

With 3.31 million vehicles delivered in the first half of 2008, the Volkswagen Group increased deliveries in the first six months of this year by 7.2 percent, moving up to third place in the global vehicle sales ranking and overtaking its rival Ford, which announced vehicle sales of 3.22 million for this period.

Ford Ka to cameo in latest ‘007’ film ahead of Paris debut

August 18th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


The highly-anticipated new James Bond adventure, ‘Quantum of Solace’, will feature a cameo appearance from the all-new Ford Ka ahead of its official Paris debut.

Ford’s new small car will make its screen debut alongside the film’s beautiful but feisty leading lady, Olga Kurylenko. Kurylenko plays Camille, a woman with her own personal mission and who quickly becomes an unlikely ally for Bond.

The ‘Quantum of Solace’ Ka is unique with metallic gold paint and an exclusive exterior graphics and interior trim combination.

The special ‘Quantum of Solace’ Ka was created by Ford of Europe’s Design team, in collaboration with the movie’s Oscar award-winning production designer, Dennis Gassner.  The Ka’s cameo continues Ford of Europe’s relationship with the James Bond films, following the debut appearance of the latest Ford Mondeo, in the 2006 blockbuster, ‘Casino Royale’.

The new model retains all the qualities which made the Ka so popular — compact size, great looks, lively dynamics and fun personality — but presents them in a fresh new package. Further technical details of the new Ford Ka will be revealed closer to launch later in 2008.

‘Quantum of Solace’ opens in the UK and France on October 31st, then across the rest of Europe during November 2008 with New Zealand set to follow.

The all-new Ka enjoys the spotlight of its own at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, on October 2.

New Ford Falcon receives highest safety rating

August 14th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Ford’s all-new FG Falcon has become the first Australian-built car to receive a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP)

The petrol FG Falcon sedan range was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating with a total score of 34.6 points (out of a possible 37 points), giving it the highest score ever recorded by an Australian produced vehicle.

The FG Falcon’s five-star score places it in the top seven per cent of all published ANCAP results, as well as in the top 24 per cent of published ANCAP five-star results.

It also positions the FG Falcon at the forefront of vehicle safety, with the recently released all-new model generating a higher point score than many significantly higher-priced, premium European vehicles including the Volvo V70, Audi A6, Volkwagen Passat and Mercedes-Benz E-class 220 CDi which have established reputations for world-class safety.

“The FG Falcon’s five-star ANCAP rating cements Ford’s long standing reputation for safety leadership,” says Richard Matheson, Managing Director Ford New Zealand.

“Safety is paramount in vehicle development at Ford. The FG Falcon has been designed to deliver real-world safety benefits for our customers and we now have a resounding third party endorsement showing just how safe the all-new FG Falcon really is.”

More than 38 different vehicle crash modes were investigated by Ford during the course of the FG Falcon’s development, with 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests and more than 5,000 state-of-the-art simulated crash tests completed.

The petrol FG Falcon sedan scored maximum points in two of the three physical crash tests performed by ANCAP, setting a new standard in vehicle safety for a locally-manufactured family car, with its world-class body structure and comprehensive suite of active and passive safety features.

The FG-series Ford Falcon and FPV range are available in New Zealand now.

Check out ANCAP raings here.

Ford and GM talk about sharing technologies

August 5th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Amongst the news that General Motors posted a huge Q2 loss and is cutting a futher 5,000 jobs as well as closing four manufacturing plants by 2010, comes rumours from inside Detroit that the unthinkable could be on the cards.

The Detroit News has reported that GM and Ford could be putting thier heads together on engine and powertrain technologies in the near future.

Such a move could help both companies, as developing a new engine costs as much as US$1Billion (NZ$1.37Billion). This news comes along with the forecast by the Center of Automotive Research (CAR) in the U.S that GM is in serious danger of going under if its fortunes don’t change soon.

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