Final fling Falcon lives up to nametag

The Falcon’s end is nigh – and home market media talk that the ‘nigh’ is a high will likely raise interest in the see-me-out Sprint models.

MOST have already been spoken for and the remainder are likely to live up to their nameplate and sprint into ownership now that Australian media have confirmed the performance is up to blue-blood expectation.

So says Ford New Zealand in respect to the turbocharged six and naturally-aspirated V8 Falcon XR Sprint limited-edition models.

With production of Ford's oldest surviving nameplate ending in around six months after almost 56 years, the importance of the final Falcon sports sedans has not been ignored by fans here, Ford New Zealand’s spokesman says.

Of the 1400 XR6 Turbo and XR8 Sprints produced before Ford winds up its Australian manufacturing operations in October, 50 six-cylinder editions and 100 V8s have been earmarked for New Zealand.

Communications and Government Affairs manager Tom Clancy says while delivery doesn’t begin until next month, most of the consignment has already been sold – and he anticipates the remainder will go quickly now that media reports validating the cars’ performance and dynamic enhancements begin to circulate.

Ironically, New Zealand media don’t seem likely to offer their opinion – the reports result from a motoring press event in Australia that was purely a home market event, Clancy explained, with no potential for Kiwi representation.

There was uncertainty today if a New Zealand event will be staged as Ford New Zealand only has two press vehicles.

The Australian assessment suggests the editions stand good chance of becoming instant classics.

Ford has not disclosed the budget it had for developing the Sprints and will also not disclose official performance times for the products.

Yet it has not argued with media contention that the final XR6T Sprint – which presents 325kW  rising to 370kW in overboost and matches the V8 (345kW and 400kW in overboost) with 650Nm torque - is the quickest six-cylinder Falcon produced, if not the quickest Falcon ever.

The maker suggests that in the 0-100kmh race against the clock, the XR8 manual is quickest “if launched correctly”, followed by XR6 auto and then the XR8 auto, but that all three cars are within a few tenths of each other to 100kmh.

On the media day, at a circuit in Tasmania, the XR6T Sprint independently recorded a 0-100kmh time of 4.6 seconds, which one outlet suggests is 0.1s shy of what Ford achieved in testing. The media measurement was purportedly achieved with two occupants, a full tank and at least 30kg of luggage on board.

Writer preference seemed generally to settle with the XR6T in every respect save for the soundtrack: The V8 is said to deliver “an intoxicating engine and exhaust note, accompanied by a hairy-chested supercharger growl,” according to the GoAuto website.

However, that site and other reports say that, in respect to shove and dynamic balance, the six-cylinder Sprint was the sharper package, while noting that the revisions to the suspension – plus the adoption of low-profile 19-inch Pirelli P Zero rubber – has been beneficial as well.

While the Sprint models might be set to make a fleeting showroom appearance – assuming they don’t go straight into owners’ lock-ups – Clancy says the mainstream models will continue in production right up to the end of production.

The XR6 Turbo Sprint, at $66,340, carries a $7000 premium over its donor while the XR8 Sprint, at $74,990, is $5000 dearer than the model it derives from.