Owner Review

2008 Ford Falcon XR8 review

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G'day CarAdvice and CarAdvice readers. Today I'm doing an owner car review of my 2008 Ford BF Falcon MkII XR8.

Searching the online classifieds one night for my next car, the dream was to own a V8 Falcon since I've been a Ford fan from an early age. That dream came true in 2009 when I purchased my first XR8 Falcon.

However, it wasn't enough. I had been bitten by that V8 bug. It's one of those things where once you have that first taste, you simply want more. The desire for more power and torque is relentless until you own another.

That was me July of 2017. With my current XR8 getting ready to be garaged for a few years, I needed another one, another XR8 Falcon, but which one?

Then I saw it – a 2008 BF Falcon MkII XR8 with the updated 'Aggressor' bodykit in Neo Blue, 121,000km, upgraded factory PBR brakes, Premium Sound, Premium Colour ICC with dual-zone climate control, full leather interior, it was a local car, from the Ford dealership no less, and just like in 2009 with my first XR8, I knew I had to have it.

The BA and BF shape in XR guise is one that's still popular among Ford fans, and with good reason with its aggressive front styling, clean lines and at the time modern interior. It's a shape that has aged gracefully over the last decade since it was replaced by the FG Falcon. The XR8 in particular with its signature bonnet bulge is still a tell-tale sign to other road users it's not a run-of-the-mill Ford Falcon. The MkII ’07 update like mine highlighted that with Dark Argent 18-inch wheels, Dark Argent colour wing mirrors, and a unique bodykit with Dark Argent inserts. It was available on all MkII XR Falcons from July 2007 until the end of production in March 2008.

If there is anything that I dislike about the shape, it would be the rear door design. It's almost awkward for a larger person to get in and out of. The use of plastic bumper clips is also something I dislike. It can make the front bar sag quite badly, making them look neglected and mistreated.

The interior is still a nice place to be – a well thought out and designed dash with easy to read colour screen and well-laid-out buttons for the climate control, CD player, and trip computer. The leather seats are nice and supportive, and comfortable over longer drives.

A few things do spoil it. A lot of hard scratchy plastics ruin the overall feel, as do the gaps in the plastic where some pieces join together. The dual-zone climate control and six-stacker can also be problematic in these cars.

Powered by a 5.4-litre V8 engine named the Boss, it makes 260kW and 500Nm of torque in XR8 form, which are still respectable numbers by today's standards, however it's not without its downfall – the engine is heavy and you can feel that. You feel the weight as you dip it into a corner. It also lacks that typical V8 feel: you put your foot down and you wait, and then somewhere around 4000rpm the engine decides it now wants to kill you and the back of your head becomes a permanent impression in the headrest, like the memory-foam pillow you slept on last night.

It also lacks that V8 sound at idle. You wouldn't think it's a V8. It sounds very similar to the inline-six engine in the Falcon range with a mild exhaust, until you hit that 4000rpm sweet spot. Not what a V8 should be – it misses that lumpy burble at idle, and the deep rumble under low acceleration that V8s are known for.

One could argue that the gearbox is the best part of the driveline, and it's a hard case to argue when it comes to the ZF6 automatic. We all know how good the gearbox is – you simply cannot beat the Germans when it comes to engineering. And when the 5.4-litre is mated to the ZF6 it's an absolute dream. Overtaking is effortless – you plant the foot, the revs shoot up, a gear change happens, and you become a blur to the motorist you're passing. The 5.4-litre Boss engine loves to rev, making the most of its power and torque higher in the rev range, and the ZF6 does a fantastic job to keep it in that sweet spot.

Handling has always been a Falcon strong point against its main rival, and the BA–BF Falcon was probably where the difference was most noticeable. They carried over the fantastic double-wishbone front suspension in the AU, while introducing a new IRS as standard across the sedan range. They did have lower ball joint issues and diff bush issues, however there are now far better replacement bushes and stronger ball joints on the market to replace the OEM items.

Mine has been fully re-bushed with a mixture of Nolathane in the front and Superpro in the rear, almost completely removing the dreaded diff bush issue these cars are famous for.

In the last eight months I've owned the car it has been fairly reliable. Some minor care has had to be done, including a new fuel pump, but it's mostly wear and tear.

The best part for me is the room in the back and in the boot. There is more than enough room for my family of five and to carry all our stuff in the very large boot. With its boot hinges designed to go into the C-pillar, I can load the boot to the top and not worry about it not shutting. I get the best of both worlds: a car I can take my family in, and one I get to enjoy driving at the same time – more than a point A to point B car.

I don't think Ford could have done any better with these cars. They really set the benchmark of how an Australian car could be made when they were released, and I think it only made the cars we built here better because it was raised so high. With the Falcon now no longer in production, the BA–BF Falcon will forever go down in history as one of the best Australia-made Falcons ever produced, and I am lucky enough to own not just one of them, but one of the very last BFs.