The new Falcon ute is giving Holden a run for its money with plenty of grunt and looks good enough for the underworld.

Story By Ian Glover

Run for cover. The new Falcon ute is on the streets and the stoush with traditional rival Holden’s Commodore ute is on for young and old. In the new eight-model range, there’s a ute for every purpose, starting off at $27,795 with the base model Cab Chassis and topping out with the fire-breathing XR6 Turbo and XR8 (both priced at $38,490). Check the specs! While the 5.4-litre DOHC V8 offers 20 more kilowatts than the 4.0 litre DOHC V6 Turbo (290kW vs 270), the blown six actually has more torque (533Nm vs 520). Either way, they’re impressive figures.
And what about styling? A comment overheard outside the schoolyard says it all: “Wow! Gangster car!” With its unique front-end treatment, the XR model is the pick of the bunch. The new Falcon ute is sleek and streamlined but practicality hasn’t been sacrificed, with a big glass area affording good all-round vision. Nice stylistic treatment is evident in the sculptured headlight inserts and the gaping maw of the base air scoop. The Nitro (electric-blue) XR6 test vehicle’s lines were complemented by an EGR pack ($3400) consisting of a hard, colour-coded tonneau and spoiler, and a grunty chrome sports bar. (EGR is a business that supplies most Australian automotive companies with enhancement equipment sold through normal-dealer networks.)
Inside the ute, the clean, minimalist lines continue. Instrumentation is attractive and easy to read, and there’s a rally feel in the perforated, competition-style accelerator and brake pedals in the six-speed ZF automatic (with Sequential Sports Shift, manual changes are available at the flick of the hand). And that clean, functional interior can be enhanced by the XR Luxury Pack ($4000) – leather sports seats, a seven-inch colour display and a potentially eardrum-splitting premium sound system that pumps out 112 watts. (Another part of the pack is a wheel-and-tyre package that includes 19-inch alloy rims clad with Dunlop Sports Maxx low-profile tyres.) Finally, there’s the optional Technology Pack ($450) that gives iPod and Bluetooth phone integration.
Yeah, but how does the vehicle go? Well, put it this way – when you plant it, you look in the rear-vision mirror expecting to see vapour trails. For a ute, the XR6 Turbo is blisteringly quick, but achieves terminal velocity without wheel scrabble, thanks to switchable traction control and a standard limited slip diff.

This story excerpt is from Issue #60

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2008