It isn’t really a surprise that Ford are planning to close their Australian manufacturing facilities in October this year, when you look at how dismal sales are of the locally manufactured Falcon and Territory models. During the month of January, Ford sold just 235 Falcons – a shocking figure made even more alarming when you consider Australia and New Zealand are the only markets in which the car is sold.
Despite making a miserable business case, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Falcon, and I’ll be sad to see it go when production wraps up later this year. It has a well designed chassis with a robust suspension setup to handle our unforgiving roads, simple yet spacious (but dated..) interior and a selection of powerful engines. You can have it with a 176kW (236hp) turbo 4-cylinder, a naturally aspirated 4.0L straight-6 with 195kW (261hp) or 270kw (362hp) turbocharged, or the range topping 5.0L supercharged 335kW (449hp) V8 under the bonnet, all driving the rear wheels. It represents simple, honest Australian engineering. But sadly, times have changed and a car like the Falcon isn’t what the majority of car buyers need or want any more.
To farewell the Falcon, Ford Australia are bringing back the old ‘Sprint’ nameplate, building 1,400 Falcon Sprints. 550 of them will be XR6 models, while the remaining 850 vehicles will be XR8s. The XR6 Sprint turns the wick up on the existing XR6 Turbo’s 4.0L straight-6 engine, producing 325kW (436hp) of power and 576Nm (425lb-ft) of torque, making it the torquiest engine ever produced in Australia. The XR8 Sprint also has more power over the standard XR8, and will develop 345kW (463hp) and 575Nm (424lb-ft) of torque.
Ford admits, however, that both engines feature a ‘transient overboost’ function that increases power and torque for up to 10 seconds in the right circumstances. While this function has been public knowledge for a while, this is the first time Ford has offered official overboost figures. Ford claims that with the right intake air temperature, the XR6 Sprint can produce up to 370kW (496hp) and 650Nm (479lb-ft), while the XR8’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8 lifts to 400kW (536hp) and 650Nm (479lb-ft) respectively.
To differentiate the limited edition Sprint models from regular XR variants, they will receive 19″ black wheels, gold brake calipers, black headlamp bezels, a new black rear spoiler and new front fog lamp surrounds, while the XR8 Sprint adds a black roof and wing mirrors. The brakes themselves are six/four piston Brembos.
Available as a six-speed automatic only, the XR6 Sprint will cost AU$54,990 while a manual XR8 Sprint will set you back AU$59,990 and the auto a further AU$2,200.