Car and Driver labeled the XR6 the 'budget BMW' and I couldn't agree more. Ford offers an incredible package for the money, who else gives you a straight six, rear wheel drive and a luxury car ride with off the lot prices starting in the high 30's.
This is my second Falcon now, my previous car was an AU Forte, which proved reliable for the 18 months I owned it. It's surprising how much Ford improved the BA over the AU they drive like completely different cars.
The straight six Barra engine is an evolution of Ford's intech engine from the 90's and provides both reliability and ultra smooth performance. Fuel economy is its biggest let down, in a mix of highway and city driving I average 13 litres per 100km, though it is a sports sedan not a Corolla so its not a deal breaker.
The XR6 will do the 0-100 KMH sprint in just over 7 and a half seconds and whilst its no where near Nissan GTR territory, it's no slouch either. If anything the car is best suited to highway cruising, the torque comes in handy when ascending hills or overtaking on two lane country roads. If your looking for outward performance an XR6 Turbo or XR8 may be a better bet.
I wasn't joking about the ride either, the XR6 glides over Australia's poor quality roads and car park speed humps without compromising on handling. No it's not the most nimble car it is a large sedan after all. But the car holds onto the road, turning in nicely in the twisties with minimal body roll.
The interior is actually pretty nice for a regular car, definitely not low rent like a previous reviewer penned it. The sports bucket seats are covered in nice feeling fabric (leather was an option) and the drivers seat has electric controls which is far easier then dealing with multiple levers. The seats themselves are the most comfortable I have had, being well padded, though more bolstering would be nice. I could easily drive across the Nullarbor without experiencing back pain.
There are some hard plastics though most of the major touch points are covered in a nice soft touch plastic and all the buttons feel high quality. It is a 2005 model so you can't expect too much in the way of connectivity, however an AUX input would have been nice. The head unit is built into the centre stack so installing an aftermarket stereo is a bit difficult.
My biggest disappointment with the BA Falcon is the four speed transmission. It feels somewhat clunky and whilst it is a tiptronic, the limited ratios take the fun away from manually changing gears.
Furthermore despite being almost five meters long and two meters wide the XR6 is not all that spacious. A Camry will provide you with more rear leg room and the boot struggles to fit luggage for more than four people. This is despite Ford only giving you a space saver spare tyre. If there is a positive it would be the spring loaded boot lid, rather than using gooseneck hinges.
Overall, like a BMW you get a mix of sport, but without the BMW price tag. Right now the BA Ford XR6 offers incredible value for money on the used car market with prices starting from around $5000.