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AU3 XR8

Reeling from the market rejection of the AU Falcon, Ford answered with the AU11, and now the AU3, which features a raft of changes right across the model lineup. The XR8 is no exception here and comes with a new spoiler, 17 inch alloys, new front bumper and grill and a new body kit. The new AU3 XR8 now comes standard with the XR8 REBEL body kit that was released in small numbers a few months and is optional on the XR6 models. But if you prefer the old body kit then it is an no cost option. Inside theirs a passenger airbag, optional leather trim( not available in the VX SS) and a six speaker six stack CD player( extra cost in the VT Commodore SS).

But the biggest change is the upgrading of the V8 engine from 185 kW's to 220kW's and also 8 Nm more torque. Still the only car in its class with an Australian 5.0L engine. But the GMH (Holden) SS still has an extra 5 kWs but only does the standing 400 meters in 2 tenths of a second faster than the XR8. Usually an engine revamp like this that sees more top-end power comes at the expense of the mid-range, but here the Ford's advantage over the very revvy Chevy still holds true. From 80 to 110kmh the Holden is 2 tenths of a second quicker in third, but in fourth gear the two are even and in fifth the Ford is a full second quicker despite being taller geared in that ratio.
And to make matters better for the Ford it has the sweeter box then the Commodores fussy six-speeder which is notchy and has poorly defined gate. The Ford also has a better limited slip differential although it can get noisy at low speeds. Once loaded up in a corner the steering offered great communication and the mid-corner feel is one of confidence, thanks in part to the tenacious grip offered by the 17 inch 235/45 Dunlop's. Ride comfort is however a different story with low-profile tyre and sports suspension do not make for a plush ride.

Leather interior is a $1900 option but gives it a real feel of luxury. Instrumentation which extends to oil pressure and battery condition gauges, is a nice touch, as is a CD player. All this standard in the Ford and optional in the Commodore (VT). The Falcon also wins in the practicality stakes, with more generous interior accommodation , especially in the rear seat and a bigger boot (than the SS). Its also a better bet as a day-to-day family car. It's not just one of the best-value sports sedans money will buy, but a good everyday car. And the best of all, it's a real head turner, especially with the new Ford Racing REBEL body kit.



 

 

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