After owning V8-powered Fords in the 1970s and '80s, there was quite a gap that always spoke to me for more of a taste of another Blue Oval muscle car.
After looking at many V8 Fords, I came across na Envi Green BA XR8, to which I instantly felt an attraction. As a bonus, it came out of the FPV thoroughbred stable, namely a Russell Ingall Enforcer.
I love the leather, the bigger brakes and Momo steering wheel. After driving this car, the first thing I noticed was how relaxed it was; you could easly forget what was under the bonnet. It wasn't until I was well out of sight of any traffic that I found out this car is no ordinary taxi.
The endless torque to the top of the rev counter was definitely what I had hoped and then some. It exceeded my expectations. Admittedly, my car had had the limiter disabled and had been chipped!
There seems to be a harmony between car, driver and the road, especially on the tight twisties and long sweeping bends. The handling for a big car was very impressive and the more it was pushed into the corners the more it hung on.
In my particular car, I noticed only very minor oversteer but that was good hard driving. At no point have I felt this muscle car to be just a straight-liner. It's is a full package – stopping, turning in even under brakes and never unsettled. This is a great piece of Ford engineering: finally they got it all together.
I was a little perplexed at the lack of iPod or auxiliary inputs but the sound system was more then adequate and sitting in the great sports leather electrically adjustable driver's seat made me feel as if this car was purpose built around me.
The automatic transition was my choice and I haven't been disappointed with the 'box at all. I like the four-speed automatic spacing and the bonus sequential shift.
Sitting comfortably on 90km/h, it's quite happy to drop back to first and propel you past any long load like a bullet from a gun in a flurry of aggressive torque and with a thunderous exhaust note. And it turns back into a puppy just as quickly, sitting on 2100rpm at 110km/h.
If there is any criticism, it would be the road noise but this is only really apparent on rougher type bitumen. I would think tyre selection could address this to some degree.
My particular vehicle had 320K on the clock of mostly highway driving and as yet there is no sign of engine wear or timing chain noise. The only thing that has been replaced is an idler pulley and spark plugs; no oil leaks or overheating problems.
I honestly think Ford was on a winner with the 32-valve Boss engine. It's difficult to say what improvements could have been made in the day but having driven it for quite some time, I think the BA XR8 could have benefitted from easy access to the diff mount bushes as it's quite a big job to replace them if needed. Luckily mine, have not failed as yet.