Australia has had a long love affair with the V8 engine; be it homegrown or imported, it’s been a big part of our automotive history. In 2014, Ford Australia’s FPV division was shut down and the popular XR8 name resurrected. A Wheel Thing spent a week with a living dinosaur.
The 5.0L V8 was once a staple item for Holden; Ford has, largely, stayed with it and in this case, it’s a blown block too. The numbers are impressive: the “Miami”
335 kilowatts and 570 torques hit the road via a six speed manual (a real man’s transmission). Air is breathed in and breathed out via 32 valves, four for each cylinder, with that air forced into those eight cylinders via a huffing and puffing Harrop supercharger.
The torque figure is the important one; it kicks in from 2200 and stays there until 5500 rev, just below the point where peak power is delivered. These numbers combine to provide a virtually seamless level of acceleration and almost unrivalled overtaking ability.
Playing with six speeds manually is delightful, made even more so thanks to a smooth clutch, a light one at that considering what it has to deal with and a gearbox that’s largely free from recalcitrance. It’s a pretty smooth and well weighted mechanism, a clearly defined gate and a decently balanced pickup point for the clutch. It’s a bit jerky and stuttery from cold but warms up and smooths out quickly. Quite simply, it made using that mammoth torque an utter delight.
See my review of the XR6; apart from the bonnet bulge now extending through to the windscreen compared to the previous XR8 and FPV models, different 19 inch alloys and the addition of four exhaust tips, there’s no difference…..not exactly shouting that this is a hero model, sadly.
Kerb weight is a not inconsiderable 1861 kilograms, however…
On The Road.
It’s here that the 8 differentiates itself from the 6. It’s a combination of using flint to start a fire and 21st century explosives. The whole procedure is pretty simple; sit in, strap in and, in the words of Russell Crowe in “Gladiator”, unleash hell.
Although the lack of a starter button somewhat diminishes the experience, the half dozen or so revs before the whoomph from the rear end is a pointer to the demon that lurks within. It rapidly settles down into a quiet, restrained rumble, a hint of blower belt whine from the ….a gentle stab of the accelerator, a lift of the clutch and 500 odd torques move the beast forward.
Given its druthers, the 5.0L will shrink the horizon, collapse eyeballs and shatter the laws of physics, leaving a mix of supercharger wail and a snorting, bellowing roar from the quad tipped exhausts behind. The somewhat notchy gear lever is moved rapidly through the gate, the engine revving slightly as it comes off the clutchplate.
Under light throttle, there’s a hesitancy to start moving, especially when cold, before the revs pick up and the torque again makes its presence known. In 5th gear around town, there’s barely a need to change gear, with a simple flex of the ankle being all that’s required to move along.
It’s a razor sharp, yet user friendly setup, as is the chassis. Although wafer thin sidewalls clad the alloys, the suspension rarely allows a harsh ride through, such is the work on the suspension and it provides an immense measure of confidence, as does the almost thought activated steering.
Compared to the somewhat lighter yet more lethargic XR6, the XR8 is a revelation thanks to the quad cammed monster bolted between the front shock towers. It really is a case of “What do we need? More powerrrrrrrr” to extract the most from the chassis, long regarded as a highlight for Falcon. It’s no wonder that around a third of the current sales figures are of the V8.
Although the interior is ancient, in design terms, the electronics are simple to use, easy to read and that engine lights the candle. Long live the XR8.
For details: http://www.ford.com.au/cars/ultimate-falcon/specifications/spec-options