If you’ve been reading MOTOR for the past few months, you’ll know that the XR8 Sprint is not a perfect car. Not by any stretch. But it makes the number-two slot right here for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the fastest V8 Falcon ever made in this country. Yes, the XR6 Sprint pipped it across the quarter and to 100km/h at BFYB recently, but only by a tenth-and-a-bit on each occasion. Meanwhile, the XR8 showed the turbo-six the way around Winton by more than two seconds and had a higher lap v-max.
On balance, I’ll call that a dead-heat, but for sheer presence and feel-good factor, the blown V8 has the otherwise impeccable six shot to bits. And let’s not forget that the whole fast-Falcon thing was predicated upon Bathurst-winning Falcs bearing bent-eights. Sure, the turbo-six was a ripper and has featured more than once on this list of all-time greats, but if we’re talking heritage and heart-strings, then we’re talking V8s.
Second of all, the XR8 Sprint stands as the very last performance Falcon, and that, in the context of what we’re digging over here, has to be worth something. The fact that Ford saw the point in fitting the supercharged Miami engine for one last fling suggests that somebody within Fortress Ford gave a bugger. And so should we.
But even forgetting the significance of being the last man on earth, the XR8 Sprint really does it for us as a performance family-car. Nought to 100 will take just on five-dead; the quarter consumes about 13-dead. Not only are those numbers quite sensational for something that doesn’t have a European passport and/or all-wheel drive, they’re positively astounding when you consider the Sprint still maintains that Falcon tradition of being able to do it all day, every day, in 45-ambient with a fishing boat hanging off the back.
Refinement was also a long suit of the XR8 Sprint, too, and there’s no such thing as blower whine, exhaust drone or anything else to make the notoriously conservative NVH engineers at Ford wince. And while it’ll never convince you that it’s a compact lightweight, it’s very secure and forgiving at speed. The ride is decent, too, and there’s an immediate feeing of solidity – if not actual feedback – when you wheel away from the driveway.
So where did the Sprint go wrong? In a few areas, most notably in the way that power-station of an engine suddenly shows up just how old the basic platform is. Fact is, you won’t really find anything under an FG X that a suspension engineer that worked on the BA Falcon of 2002 wouldn’t recognise immediately. The result is a car with way more engine than chassis. Okay, so a lot of hairy-chested blokes claim to enjoy that, but we’ll take sharper steering and more mechanical grip over balls and bravado any day. Thanks very much.
Beyond that, the interior is also looking its age, with bitsy instrumentation, bygone-era plastics and a seating position that still isn’t right for the majority of grown adults. Should this worry you long term? No, none of it should, really (although the seating position thing would need an aftermarket fix if I owned it).
Meanwhile, perhaps the best thing about the XR8 Sprint is that it’s still attainable. It hasn’t been around long enough for values to be affected by the collectors out there, yet it’s utterly destined to earn the double-edge-sword tag that is ‘collectible’. If you want one, though, grab one as soon as you can; the mood of the market suggests that this is one Falcon that will spend more time in climate-controlled garages than it will on the road. Which is, if you ask us, missing the whole point.
The XR8 Sprint is also crazy-good value. I mean, tell me who else in the world can sell you a five-seater, full-sized sedan with a supercharged 5.0-litre V8, the option of a manual trans should you want that (and I would) and the same level of standard kit, with change for a burger-with-the-lot from $60K? Nobody else, that’s who. And, as of right now, as the Ford production line is powered-down for the last time, nobody at all.
Engine: 4951cc V8, DOHC, 32v, s/c
What's our fave Falcon? Check out MOTOR's take on the top 10 Fast Ford Falcons ever made here.