Let’s start off with the fun part. This car is fast. Real world fast. Sure, many a car (including Holden’s SS Ute) would do better on a race track but I do not use a race track every day. This has by far more power and speed than anyone truly needs, but…
I bought the car as I came into position to purchase a fun car. I have always been a Ford guy (HO Phase III please) and ever since my dad had a BF XR6 Turbo (as a company car), I have wanted one.
I was previously driving a 2009 Mazda 6 Wagon (diesel, manual) which was surprisingly quick and nimble. I had bought that car when I was commuting over 500km a week for work (at a relatively low pay) and needed something that was efficient but without sacrificing space or fun too much. It has done me a good service for 2.5 years but approaching 200,000km, it was time for a change.
Since I don’t have kids (or won’t anytime soon) and the partner has a five-seat car (Kia Rio) the lack of rear seats didn’t matter, so when looking I didn’t discriminate between ute and sedan.
I do go camping a bit, mostly on sealed or well graded dirt roads so the ute is perfect. If I go somewhere the XR6T won’t go, I will hitch a ride with a mate.
I found this one, and after getting it professionally inspected, bought it. It has been about three months, and here are my thoughts on daily life with the orange beast.
533Nm is a lot to put to the road for the rear suspension setup (leaf sprung solid rear axle). It seems to handle this pretty well, though in the wet when giving it a little, the traction control light likes to strobe at you. This monstrous torque (and the 270kW) means overtaking on country roads is extremely easy. Drop it down from sixth to fourth, then you don’t even need to floor it and you’re past the slower car in front with minimal time on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
The clutch isn’t too bad, a little numb compared to what I am used to and the pick up is a little high in the pedal travel, though it does have a decent friction point range (as compared to a ‘button’ clutch), if that makes sense. It sometimes means, especially after a night shift at work, that you rev the engine a bit higher before letting the clutch out a bit, but I’m getting better over time at this.
The six-speed ‘box is brilliant. Nice, short, direct throws. You never get the wrong gear except when going for reverse as it is past fifth and if the lockout isn’t disengaged you will get fifth instead of reverse. This normally happens when you haven’t slowed enough (normally happens when I am selecting reverse to back into my driveway). It is a great ‘box to go up and down through the gears (and the higher clutch helps with that for me, anyway).
The steering is nice, though lacking a little bit of feel while still being direct and predictable. It does corner nicely for what the car is. Sure, it is no AMG Mercedes or Porsche, but for a two-door sports car with a massive boot on an inferior rear suspension setup, it goes quite nicely. Again, I am driving this on the road not the racetrack.
The brakes are pretty good, though also a little numb on feel, although I haven’t yet had a proper chance to test them out. They do pull the car up nicely when some idiot cuts in front of you and puts the brakes on for no reason.
The ride is a little harsh and it does crash a bit over bigger edges, though it isn’t unbearable. I would happily drive from Sydney to Perth in the car, with a Stop, Revive, Survive break every two hours of course.
In short, this car is fun to drive all the time, highway, back road, suburbia, all without losing your license (though you could easily, if you’re not careful).
Now to the interior.
The seats are relatively comfortable though for long drives (two-plus hours on crap roads) can be a little uncomfortable if they’re not adjusted properly.
The main issue with the seats for me is the leather. It is slippery and gets quite hot in the sun. This summer should be interesting to see how many times I forget to put the sun shade up.
The wheel and seat have enough adjustment so I can easily get into a comfortable and safe driving position.
The infotainment is decent (I would love to have the Sync system the FGX Falcons had but, oh well) with Bluetooth and radio working very well. I was a little surprised to find it to only holds a single CD (Mazda, Dad’s FG G6E and Mum’s 2002 Camry have a six-stacker) but since I rarely use CDs any more, it is not really an issue.
The sat-nav isn’t bad in design, though it is a bit slow and lacks the polish of newer systems, but it does the job well enough. This car wasn’t optioned with a rear-view camera, sadly, which would make reverse parking a little bit easier. It isn’t too hard, but I would rather not reverse into a pole or a car because I misjudged how far I needed to go.
The six speakers do quite a good job for what they are. Nothing special, but it isn’t horrible. Volume and EQ setting are good and clarity is good. The AUX input is useful for when my passenger wants to put something on. The steering wheel audio (and cruise control) controls are not back-lit which is a little annoying but after a few days I didn’t need to look at them, anyway.
The AC does a really good job and the Auto setting for the climate control does a pretty good job in adjusting air temperature, fan speed and direction. I would have preferred rotary dials to buttons for temperature and fan speed, though. It should be interesting to see how quickly the car cools down in summer.
The space behind the seats is pretty decent, but I would like the seats to fold further forward to make access a little easier. The real space, however, is in the tray. The only problem with that space is stuff can move around while driving if it isn’t tied down. There are movable tie-down hooks, which is nice, but they can’t be put in the middle of tray as the gas struts for the hard tonneau cover get in the way.
The headlights need a mention. The low beams are miles ahead of the Mazda (and a 2012 Aurion) and the high beam is amazing. On country roads, it lights up a long way down the road and a nice amount to the sides as well.
I should mention fuel economy. I am currently getting about 11.5L/100km. Which is a far cry from the Mazda.