BA XR6 TURBO
LAUNCHED in September 2002, the BA Falcon’s job was to wipe away all the bad memories of the unloved AU that preceded it. Ford cleverly maintained the basic structure, but added new front and rear styling to emerge with a car that looked newer than it really was. The AU’S sophisticated but expensive independent rear end was ditched and replaced by the simpler, cheaper Control Blade set-up, and the V8 option went from the old fivelitre pushrod Windsor that we knew and loved to the 5.4-litre overhead-camshaft V8, which got three valves per cylinder in 220kw Fairmont form, and four valves and DOHC for the XR8 version.
But Ford wasn’t done with the Au-apology stuff yet. The basic fourlitre six-banger got a world-class DOHC four-valve cylinder head and, as part of that, the local engineers brewed up a boosted version. With a fairly simple, single-turbocharger application, the new, smoother six-pot Ford engine suddenly made 240kw and 450Nm, completely trumping the three-valve V8’s 220kw (if not its 470Nm) and giving even the fourvalve XR8’S 260kw and 500Nm a big scare. And you know what else? There are plenty of people around who reckon Ford might have been fudging those numbers a tad so the V8 stayed in front of the XR6T on paper. Could be.
While you could order your new Falcon with the three-valve V8 engine in anything from the base-model XT sedan and up (the four-valve version was Xr8-only) the turbo six was only available with the XR6 package. There was no station wagon variant, but cleverly, Ford did tradies everywhere a huge favour by offering the XR6T as a ute. Getting those pigs to market was never as much fun as this (well, maybe not for the pigs).
Oh yeah, you could have the XR6 Turbo with either a five-speed manual (the T5Z unit) or the equally familiar four-speed auto. Frankly, the auto worked better with the turbo motor, keeping it on the boil more effectively and cancelling out the lag.