Slick shifter

It’s a log­i­cal choice for haul­ing bikes and tow­ing

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels - JAMES STAN­FORD james.stan­ford@cars­

THE Jaguar en­gi­neers at the global launch of the $340,000 Jaguar XKR-S are telling me its six-speed ZF au­to­matic is a good trans­mis­sion.

I agree and then can’t re­sist men­tion­ing that the very same gear­box is fit­ted to the Ford Fal­con Ute I have just bought.

They cringe as I men­tion the ute has leaf-springs— ar­chaic de­vices in the opin­ion of en­gi­neers work­ing on sports cars of the 21st cen­tury.

Stir­ring the English is al­ways fun but it is true, the Ger­man­made ZF au­to­matic is a good shifter and it was part of the rea­son I shelled out my own hard-earned for the Fal­con XR6 Ute I picked up last week.

It was an eas­ier de­ci­sion to make, given Ford has thou­sands sitting around at the mo­ment and deal­ers are keen to move them. I reckon I did well af­ter pit­ting a cou­ple of deal­ers against each other.

Ford is ad­ver­tis­ing XR6 Utes for $32,990 but deal­ers will go lower if you buy a car that has been sitting around. The price will go north in a hurry if you want any ex­tras such as 18-inch wheels or leather seats, so I took a stan­dard car.

Just be care­ful as I know a bloke who bought a Fal­con Ute in stock since last year. He got a great deal but the tyres have gone out-ofround and vi­brate like hell. These should be cov­ered un­der war­ranty, though.

I had been look­ing around at var­i­ous utes and vans to carry push bikes and dirt bikes as well as be­ing able to tow a rally car. Noth­ing suited as well as the Fal­con Ute be­cause it is prac­ti­cal as well as com­fort­able.

I was lucky enough to drive an FG XR6 Ute for six months as part of a long-term me­dia test a cou­ple of years back. Not one thing went wrong, de­spite an at­tempted creek cross­ing that went pear-shaped as wa­ter en­tered the cabin.

It had a Ford-built five-speed au­to­matic but that’s been re­placed with the ZF six-speed.

Box of tricks: The Fal­con Ute has the six-speed ZF au­to­matic

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