PHWOAR! A term used to express desire, but also a term somehow apt (and not for the same reason) for describing the feeling I get every time I’m behind the wheel of my Aussie-made FG XR6 Turbo sedan.
Starting with the exterior, Ford finally got this right with the FG series. There are curves and angles in all the right places that give a properly sporty look without overdoing it. The honeycomb grille is a neat touch. The 19-inch rims (part of the optional Luxury Pack) fill out the guards perfectly, although by today’s standards they could be considered dated in design. Twin exhausts would have put the icing on top for the exterior package but unfortunately it was not to be.
Moving inside, the interior is simple, functional and most of all extremely spacious. As a fairly tall person this is the only car I’ve ever owned where my left leg doesn’t rest against the centre console. This is actually more amazing than it sounds! Reviews claim a high driving position but to me it feels sporty enough once the seat is lowered (the raised centre console contributes to the sporty feeling), although the VF Commodore does have the edge in this respect. Lack of an auto-up drivers side window is a small gripe.
The Luxury Pack gives the interior leather seats and door trims (both with blue stitching), carbon-fibre look dash trims, colour ICC screen, matte black ICC surround, dual-zone climate control, premium sound and a pretty awesome sports steering wheel. This pack is absolutely essential for anyone looking for a used XR6 Turbo; it really lifts the interior look and ambience above the base model, keeps it modern enough even in 2017 (without being all 'bling' like a VF Commodore) and is arguably nicer than the G6ET’s interior (which is trying a bit too much to be luxury in my opinion). Also worth having is the optional Tech Pack that gives Bluetooth phone and auxiliary/iPhone inputs.
Now to talk about the highlight of this car – putting the pedal to the metal! With 270kW of turbo power and 533Nm of torque, this car accelerates harder than Usain Bolt chasing girls in a nightclub. The rush of speed is phenomenal – oddly I’m not yet bored of the power delivery of this car, it really is that good. Turbo lag is minimal and the six speed ZF auto gearbox shifts very smoothly. Putting the car into ‘Performance Mode’ makes a world of difference and the note from the six-cylinder engine starts to become quite addictive. This car is brutal even in stock form.
Most professional car reviews go into great detail on handling but let’s be realistic – how many average drivers actually get their car to a track or a quiet and twisty country road? Better yet, how many people actually have the skill to drive their car at anything close to its handling limits? In the past I considered handling as important as power but I’ve come to realise that straight line speed is what I derive the most enjoyment from, because it’s what I have the opportunity to experience 99 per cent of the time. From accelerating away at the lights to coming on to a freeway on-ramp, putting the foot down occasionally is simply fun, especially so in a XR6 Turbo. And speed limits do not need to be broken to enjoy it.
Nonetheless what I can positively say for the ride is that the suspension soaks up bumps better than any other car I’ve owned (and I’ve only ever owned performance-oriented cars) and the steering feels well weighted taking into account the size of the car.
A good condition, unmolested FG XR6 Turbo can be picked up for around $20k these days and for my mind that is an absolute bargain for what you get. Loads of power and space, affordable maintenance costs and the feeling of driving one of the last great Australian-made cars – now that’s a winning combo!