All Aussie Showdown 2005: Holden Commodore SV6 vs Ford Falcon XR6 comparison

Not all Aussie sports sedans run V8s. We temperature-test the sporty six-packs

All Aussie Showdown 2005 Holden Commodore SV6 vs Ford Falcon XR6
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The battle of the Aussie sedans starts with a six. The Holden Commodore SV6 and Ford Falcon XR6 is round one in this fight.

This feature was originally published in MOTOR’s May 2005 issue

Filling the gap between poverty pack and V8, they’re sports sedans designed for the working man with a lease plan and a desire to avoid the base-model blues, someone without the desire to cop the fuel bills of a V8. Or just those who are perfectly happy sacrificing outright speed for more agility and less buy-in bucks.

Holden Commodore SV 6 Vs Ford Falcon XR 6 Comparison Front Jpg
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Not that there’s a huge saving. At 39 large, both the XR6 and SV6 are just $3000 less than the budget V8 banger, the Commodore SV8.

But comparing apples with apples – on paper at least – the SV6 appears to have the edge. Both are four-valve engines with twin-cams, but the Holden’s 3.6-litre V6 specs read 8kW more than the 4.0-litre
inline Ford six.

The dyno showed it was more, with a 7kW difference at the wheels – equating to about 9-10kW at the engine. A good advantage given the SV6 is also 80kg lighter. The Ford fights back with 40 more Newtons, but then the Holden’s six-speed gearbox offers one more ratio than the Ford.

Holden Commodore SV 6 Engine Jpg
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Curious then that the Ford is faster to accelerate. Blame the SV6’s super tall 2.87:1 diff ratio that makes it much harder to launch and keep in its torque band than the XR6’s 3.45:1. And the Holden’s grippy ability to put power down so well in the V8s seems to lose it time in the weaker V6.

It’s a fair fight on the track, both peaking at the same 183km/h down Eastern Creek’s straight. But through the turns, on identical size 235/45x17 tyres, the Holden has the slight advantage with stability and gearing the XR6 can’t match.

On the road the two are closer still. The Falcon’s slightly softer suspension soaks up more road rubbish. And its five-speed manual doesn’t seem to hurt its performance. The XR6 feels big and heavy, the seating position is high, the steering is at an odd angle, but it’s a comfortable and functional interior.

Holden Commodore SV 6 Vs Ford Falcon XR 6 Comparison On Road Jpg
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But the Holden has it mostly covered. Slightly firmer damping still absorbs bumps. The spongy seats are grippy, and the dash is similarly logical with basic controls that are actually easier to use than the V8 Commodores. Both sixes have all the good gear like power windows, mirrors, cruise control, single CD player, auto headlights and basic trip computer. Expected stuff for a $40,000 sedan.

Around the ‘burbs’, the Falcon holds an edge; its 4.0-litre six is more instant, more eager to please. Whereas the SV6 winds out to a high 6750rpm to extract every bit of speed, the Falcon’s 5900rpm range proves how much gruntier it is. In the real world, the Ford is faster. But they’re so close, we turned the Ford’s a/c on and the SV6’s off, and the Holden was quicker.

Ford Falcon XR 6 Engine Jpg
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On tour, the SV6 sips a touch less, using about $6 more fuel for the 1700km drive to Bourke and back. But at that rate, Ford’s smaller 68-litre tank (vs Holden’s 75L) would empty about 80km earlier.

Picking a winner is a split decision. Some liked the SV6 engine for its smoothness throughout the rev range, some loathed it for its lack of torque. Equally the Ford was criticised for being harsh and sloppy, but loved for its wide band of torque. Three votes to two however, the executive express class win goes to Ford’s Falcon XR6.

Fast Facts

Holden Commodore SV 6 Vs Ford Falcon XR 6 Comparison Rear Jpg
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  Commodore SV6 Falcon XR6
Engine 3.6L V6, DOHC 4.0L Inline-6, DOHC
Power 190kW @ 6500rpm 182kW @ 5600rpm
Torque 340Nm @ 3200rpm 380Nm @ 3250rpm
Weight 1592kg 1672kg
Fuel consumption 12.37L/100km 12.93L/100km
Price $39,490 $38,655

Dyno Results

All Aussie Showdown 2005 Holden Commodore SV 6 Vs Ford Falcon XR 6 Power Graph 281 29 Jpg
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Quite a contrast, the XR6’s shorter rev-range is just a few kW short of the SV6’s peak, but it’s stronger everywhere else and smoother too. By then, SV6’s higher peak is largely irrelevant as the Ford is back in the bulge of its torque.

Drag Run

  Commodore SV6 Falcon XR6
0-10km/h 0.69sec 0.61sec
0-20km/h 1.28sec 1.14sec
0-30km/h 1.96sec 1.85sec
0-40km/h 2.61sec 2.48sec
0-50km/h 3.22sec 3.13sec
0-60km/h 4.16sec 4.09sec
0-70km/h 5.08sec 4.82sec
0-80km/h 6.14sec 6.02sec
0-90km/h 7.18sec 7.05sec
0-100km/h 8.21sec 8.11sec
0-110km/h 9.91sec 9.26sec
0-120km/h 11.76sec 11.17sec
0-400m 16.28sec @
143.4km/h
16.06sec @
146.8km/h

The Falcon XR6 matched its best ever 0-100km/h time but the quarter mile was 0.14secs outside its best. The SV6 was way off the pace by comparison with the worst manual of the field – it crunched from second to third and even popped out of second gear on one run.

Track Results

  Commodore SV6 Falcon XR6
Lap Time 2min 0.61sec 2min 1.46sec
Top Speed 183km/h 183km/h

XR6’s firmer suspension minimises nose-diving under brakes but is still sloppier than SV6. Not much difference in straight-line speed. SV6 feels lighter and livelier and offers better turn-in and mid-corner grip and stability. High 6750rpm redline and the six-speed ’box keeps the 3.6 on pace.

Judges' Scores

Holden Commodore SV 6 Vs Ford Falcon XR 6 Comparison Judging Panel Jpg
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2005 Holden Commodore SV6

Judges JT DE DM PC LB
Performance/10 4 3 4 6 5
Dynamics/10 6 7 5 6 6
Driveability/10 6 9 5 6 5
Value/10 4 6 6 5 5
Total/40 20 25 20 23 21
GRAND TOTAL 109/200

2005 Ford Falcon XR6 - WINNER

Judges JT DE DM PC LB
Performance/10 5 4 5 7 6
Dynamics/10 6 5 5 6 5
Driveability/10 7 8 7 7 4
Value/10 5 6 6 5 5
Total/40 23 23 23 25 20
GRAND TOTAL 114/200

 

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Dean Evans
Journalist

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