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From drive.com.au

The Falcon XR6 Turbo is the fastest Australian performance car. It’s also a great car to drive.

Meet the fastest Ford Falcon ever built – yes, even faster than the famous Falcon GT HO.

According to our satellite-assisted timing equipment, the XR6 Turbo can accelerate from rest to 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds and cover the quarter mile (or 400-metre sprint) in 13.4 seconds.

To make sure it wasn’t an error, we repeated the test. Again. And again. And again. Hey, someone’s got to do it.

For the record, the air-conditioning was on. There were no stunts, no tricks, we just squeezed the accelerator. It did it like it was brushing its teeth.

This not only makes the latest Falcon XR6 Turbo the fastest Falcon to date, it also shoots it to the top of the leader board in Australian performance cars. It’s faster than both the Holden V8s and its own big brother, the Falcon XR8 (which stopped the clocks at a comparatively slow 6.3 seconds).

Holden Special Vehicles claims its 6.0-litre V8 Clubsport can reach 100km/h in 4.96 seconds, but only HSV staffers have been able to repeat this figure. The best number any hacks like us have squeezed out of an HSV is 5.2 seconds. Perhaps that will change when the 6.2-litre Clubsport goes on sale in May 2008.

Meanwhile, the XR6 Turbo is the new king of the hill. For now. Its faster cousin, the Ford Performance Vehicles F6 Typhoon is also a month away and Ford engineers privately let on this week that it will perform the 0-100km/h dash in less than five seconds. We can’t wait, but in the meantime there’s the Falcon XR6 Turbo.

Previous Falcon XR6 Turbos stopped the clocks at about 5.9 seconds, so a 5.1 second 0-100km/h time is a phenomenal improvement. It’s largely the result of the massive changes Ford has made to the turbo, which is all new, and the larger intercooler, which is as big as the intercooler from the previous generation F6 Typhoon.

The power delivery is so smooth that, initially, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re not in the turbo at all. Until, that is, the turbo gets on the boil and all hell breaks loose.

As with the previous model, there is a subtle exhaust burble between gear changes and a deep roar as revs build. The six-speed auto is the pick of the bunch; while the manual has a launch control system, it also loses some turbo boost ever so slightly between gear changes.

Police lucky enough to have an Falcon XR6 Turbo as a highway patrol car are going to love the new model. If anyone is still clinging to the fantasy of Ford’s V8 power, then this car surely should shake sense into them.

As expected the Falcon XR6 Turbo is also good around corners, and Ford has again done an amazing job of blending handling ability and comfort. The steering is less nervous and more linear, but we did get some rack rattle in tight, bumpy turns. And the tyres can still be noisy at speed.

The brakes, which are carried over from the previous model, stood up to the punishment well. But, then again, the Falcon’s weight has changed little from the old to the new model so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Those who want better stopping power can opt for the FPV Typhoon, which has four-piston Brembo brakes standard and six-piston brakes as an option.

In summary, first impressions of the XR6 Turbo are overwhelmingly positive, but we’ll reserve final judgment until we test it extensively on more familiar roads.

In the meantime, one final thought: the XR6 Turbo is reasonably well appointed but for one odd oversight. Curtain airbags aren’t standard on the quickest car in the range. What is Ford thinking?

Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo: Performance*

0-100km/h: 5.1 seconds

0-400m: 13.4 seconds

Top speed after 400m: 172km/h

* Performance figures conducted in controlled conditions using satellite-based timing equipment.

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twin force? or just a 3.7 turbo?

'tis interesting

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4.0 litre DOHC Inline 6 with variable valve timing. Unfortunately Ford has decided that the Australia only engine will soon be discontinued and replaced by one of Ford's global V6 engines.

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