I have a penchant for fast sedans. Preferably silver and 6 cylinder, thank you very much.
I can trace the roots of this specific oddness back to the early 90's when my dad purchased a silver 1986 BMW E28 M535i. To me, at 10 years old, the Beemer was an absolute revelation. My car obsessiveness started at a far younger age however this was the first car that truly hooked me.
Fast forward to the present. My car is a 2007 BF2 XR6 Turbo. It's silver. Let's get one thing straight, I'm a car guy, not a Ford fanatic. As such, the reason for this car being parked in the garage is purely down to boxes ticked. It's my daily driver and practicality played the starring role in the decision. The best way to describe the XR6 Turbo package is “honest”. And in the spirit of honesty, let's look at what's good and bad about it.
What we're looking at here is a redesign of the unloved AU Falcon. Plastics, trim, fit and finish are unimpressive and there are a lot of hard plastics. The “Premium” sound system consists of 6 speakers and a rear parcel mounted subwoofer. Sound quality? Let me put it this way: If this is the premium option, I don't want to imagine what the 4 speaker standard stereo sounds like. There is dual zone climate control which works very well as expected for an Australian car created for our conditions.
The Old Road is where the redeeming features of this car are on display, they're all mechanical. The ZF ‘box is smooth & responsive, in auto mode it holds gears through corners and will drop cogs for engine braking when you're pressing on. It's fantastically anticipatory. Whilst there are no paddle shifts, knocking the gear lever across and changing manually allows real control. This is one of the few autos that actually has the + and – the right way around. Push forward to drop down and pull back to drop down gears. The ZF will never change up for you and will allow you to change down when many autos will simply ignore your commands.
This is the final evolution of the B series, meaning FPV spec conrods and valve springs. The 4 litre intercooled turbo delivers 245kw at 5,250rpm and more importantly 480nm from 2-4,000 RPM. This is achieved with less than 6 PSI of boost. Clearly, this is a low-blow motor and as the abovementioned figures suggest this engine is far more about torque than outright power. Contemporary road tests put 0-100 times anywhere between high 5's and low 6's, the quarter mile times ranged from high 13's to low 14's.
The Old Road has a fantastic variety of corners, from tight 2nd gear switchbacks through to long sweepers and it's these types of roads that I really enjoy the most. The XR6 Turbo is never going to be a tarmac rally special but it has a very trustworthy chassis, the wheelbase is long and the suspension is well controlled meaning it's a very easy car to build confidence in. Understeer has been engineered in to the car however the ample torque allows you to overcome this with ease. The rear end breaks away progressively and it's a cinch to hold whatever angle you want with the small adjustments to throttle thanks to that torque and factory LSD. Steering is direct, hydraulically assisted and with decent feedback. Brakes are progressive and have decent stopping power, they do fade after repeat abuse as expected with the basic set up.
I've owned my car for 5 years, it's racked up over 170,000kms now and 120,000 of those have been with me. It's never missed a beat, services are inexpensive and being Australian parts are in abundance and cheap when required, in my case a new set of brake rotors and new diff bushes are the extent of replacements. It's averaging 12.1l/100 combined highway/city. There's not a rattle in the thing.
In all, The XR6 Turbo does exactly what it says on the tin, no more and no less. It's relatively understated, comfortable and punches harder than Clarkson after he's just been told there won't be a hot dinner option. In a world where cars are becoming increasingly tech laden I love this old school approach because you are connected to the car, there's no electronic trickery. Sadly in another 2 years Falcons and Commodores will become but a memory, enjoy them while you can.