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by Matt Brogan


Well it’s been a little over a week now, and we’ve finally pulled together all the results for our Ford Falcon XR8 versus Holden Commodore SS AFM fuel economy challenge.

To take you back a few steps, and perhaps as a means for summarising the situation, the idea for this little test came about after a few of our road testers noticed the claimed fuel economy differences between the Ford Falcon XR8 and Holden’s all-new Active Fuel Management (AFM) Commodore SS were not quite as they’d claimed they were.

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So to settle the situation once and for all, we proposed a showdown between the pair, one of the most comprehensive tests of its kind carried out in recent times, whereby the cars would be put through a number of tests aimed to categorically rate the two against each other not only in the fairest manner possible, but in real world conditions – something many rival publications seem unable to grasp.

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Our cars were driven as the average owner would drive a car. No taping up gaps, no folding in mirrors and minimal use of controlled environment testing (performance testing being the obvious exclusion).

The results, as you’re about to see, speak quite clearly for themselves.

The Results

To begin, it’s best if you click through the below four articles to bring yourself up to speed:

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But for those of you who have been following our progress closely, we’ll commence with a few graphs from our performance testing day at CarAdvice‘s private track in country Victoria.

Quarter Mile (0-400m): Winner – Ford Falcon XR8

First up, we have the standard measure of any Aussie performance vehicle, the quarter-mile run (or 0-400m for metric buffs).

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Now as it’s pretty plain to see, the figures aren’t too far from the manufacturer’s claims, and what’s more, are within less than a second of each other.

Ford Falcon XR8: 0-400m

Ford Falcon XR8: 0-400m

Holden Commodore SS (AFM): 0-400m

Holden Commodore SS AFM: 0-400m

We ran the cars as level as possible for this test. Additional weight (fuel and passengers) was dead even, both cars used identical fuel, they were tested on the same day, one after the other to ensure weather conditions and track temperature were identical and were both run with tyre pressures at the manufacturer’s specifications. We even used the same driver in each car.

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The results, in case the graph is a little hard to read, shows the Ford Falcon XR8 winning the 400 metre run a 14.72 second pass and a terminal speed of 163.89km/h, while the Holden Commodore SS AFM managed a marginally slower 14.80 second pass with its terminal speed being 161.38km/h.

Standing Start (0-100km/h): Winner – Ford Falcon XR8

Next we did the obligatory standing start run, or the 0-100km/h test.

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This test, quite simply put, aims to see which car is quickest when timed accelerating from a standing start to a proposed speed, in this case, 100km/h.

Ford Falcon XR8: 0-100km/h

Ford Falcon XR8: 0-100km/h

Holden Commodore SS (AFM): 0-100km/h

Holden Commodore SS AFM: 0-100km/h

Again, the results speak for themselves, and as previously stated with our 400 metre run, the cars were tested following a criteria aimed at being as fair as possible to both parties.

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Once more, for those who find the images a little small, the final analysis shows the Ford Falcon XR8 as our winner once more with a 0-100km/h time of 6.54 seconds while the Holden Commodore SS (AFM) came in just behind with a time of 6.74 seconds.

Braking Test (100-0km/h): Winner – Holden Commodore SS (AFM)

It’s all well and good to be able to go hard in a straight line, but so is putting the anchors on in those less than ideal times where a sudden stop is required.

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Further more, most publications seem only to test stopping times from 80km/h, which is great if that’s as fast as you ever plan to go, but given the fact most speed limits in our home state of Victoria are 100km/h, we thought this speed would give a more accurate, real-world feel to our braking test.

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While the results are perhaps not surprising, given the fact it’s a lighter car (Holden: 1782kg v Ford: 1832kg), the Holden Commodore SS AFM managed to nab this one from the Ford Falcon XR8 recording a stopping distance of 38.78  metres, just over one full metre further than the XR8’s result of 39.75 metres.

Ford Falcon XR8: 100-0km/h Brake Test

Ford Falcon XR8: 100-0km/h Brake Test

Holden Commodore SS (AFM): 100-0km/h Braking Test

Holden Commodore SS (AFM): 100-0km/h Braking Test

Economy Test (0-800km): Winner – Holden Commodore SS

Finally, and perhaps more importantly in these times of increased fuel prices and environmental consciousness, our economy run set out to prove not only to ourselves but to V8 loyalists country wide which of our two beloved locals would come out trumps as the most economic bent eight.

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Holden have put an admirable initiative in place to reduce fuel consumption in its 6.0-litres Commodore SS by introducing a system known as Active Fuel Management (AFM) on all automatic variants.

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Simply put, the car shuts down four of its eight cylinders when they’re not required in a bid to conserve fuel, but after having had both the Holden Commodore SS manual (non-AFM), Commodore SS automatic (AFM) and similar Falcon XR8 manual and automatic models, we here at the CarAdvice office simply couldn’t credit the claimed savings from the red lion as being anywhere near where it claims. In fact, we thought the difference in real world terms was quite negligible.

We were right.

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Our test equipment, courtesy of Applied Measurement, shows that the two cars recorded very similar fuel consumption figures over the run from Melbourne to Tarcutta and back, in fact so similar that they were within .03-litres/100km within each other.

The reason for this destination was that it is exactly half way to Sydney, meaning for all intents and purposes a tally of kilometres almost identical to the more illustrious of economy runs, the Melbourne to Sydney drive.

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The graphs show that the cars were, as in all our tests, driven as normally as possible. Steady throttle use, the occasional overtaking manoeuvre, stop-start traffic both in and out of the city, in fact all the facets of a drive any normal person could expect on a similar trip.

But what does it all mean in real terms, well our final figures prove the point without so much as another word. The following figures were accrued over 935.227km:

  • Holden Commodore SS (AFM): 9.79 litres per 100km (Average)
  • Ford Falcon XR8: 9.82 litres per 100km (Average)

The following figures were achieved prior to the test during our regular test drive conditions:

  • Holden Commodore SS (AFM): 822.92km @ 14.1-litres/100km (Average)
  • Ford Falcon XR8: 902.80km @ 12.25-litres/100km (Average)

Although we can’t include the road test fuel efficiency figures in the final test as the conditions weren’t controlled for both vehicles, they’re indicative of what we experienced when both of these cars were road tested earlier in the year.

It’s also worth noting the SS Commodore’s inaccurate speedometer. It ended up being out by some 7km over the trip back. In addition, the analogue speedometer was out by some ~7km/h at 110km/h, while the digital speedometer was out by around 4km/h. The XR8 on the other hand had its digital and analogue speedometer accurate to 1.5km/h at 110km/h.

Conclusion

If you go through all the figures, you will find the following results in summation:

  • Ford Falcon XR8
    • 9.82-litres/100km.
    • 235.0kW – at the wheels. 288.8kW – at the flywheel.
    • 6.54-seconds 0-100km/h.
    • 14.72-seconds @ 163.89km/h.
    • 39.75m 100-0km/h.
  • Holden Commodore SS (AFM)
    • 9.79-litres/100km.
    • 204.5kW – at the wheels. 252.4kW – at the flywheel.
    • 6.74-seconds 0-100km/h.
    • 14.80-seconds @ 161.38km/h.
    • 38.79m 100-0km/h.

When it’s all said and done the Holden versus Ford argument is one that isn’t going to be settled by any test or trial and will instead remain one rivalry fought on passion alone despite any performance, economy or technological difference offered by any logical, scientific test any one could reasonably be expected to put a car through, and as we see it, that’s a great thing.

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Without the love, the rivalry and the hard-fought competition between these two brands neither of these ground pounding Aussie V8s would survive, and though many eco-warriors would consider that a victory, those of us who grew up watching Bathurst in our pyjamas or spent countless hours tinkering with their own piece of locally produced muscle would see it as a sad day either is lost to a four pot import.

Yes, yes, the Ford may be faster and the Holden may be a touch more economical but at the end of the day would this make any die hard Ford or Holden man change teams?

Not bloody likely.

Special thanks to: Springy Performance & Applied Measurement & CJC Photography

VBOX equipment courtesy of:

Applied Measurement




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