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Falcon XR6 Turbo v Falcon XR8 v Commodore SS

Joshua Dowling
3 May 2008
www.drive.com.au

They're the muscle car heroes of the large car market, but which is best Ford or Holden. We take the new Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo, Falcon XR8 and Holden Commodore SS-V to Bathurst to find out.

Ford and Holden V8s have dominated the Bathurst motor races for more than three decades, so where better to take the latest versions of the Falcon and Commodore performance sedans than to Australia's high temple of horsepower, Mount Panorama.

The road cars have little in common with their V8 Supercar cousins but it was a symbolic detour on our four-day Melbourne-to-Brisbane test drive.

Even people who don't drive a Ford or a Holden are known to barrack for one brand or the other on the Bathurst race weekend. And for devotees in the blue and red corners and singlets the result can mean a year of bragging rights or hope for next year's race.

This time of year the roads around Mount Panorama are quiet and the burning couches, hordes of campers and fast food caravans are still months away. The spectator area at the top of the hill is a dust bowl and there's a slight chill in the air, thanks to the strong winds as we head into winter.

Bathurst is regarded as one of the world's most daunting racetracks. V8 Supercars clock close to 300km/h around here but we weren't about to set any lap records. Driving around the 6.2-kilometre circuit (a public road except during race week) gave little feedback on our sports sedans except how quietly each slips through the air at the 60km/h speed limit on smooth bitumen.

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Falcon XR6 Turbo, XR8 and Commodore SS-V: Performance Figures

Toby Hagon
2 May 2008
www.drive.com.au

The performance models of V8-powered Ford Falcon XR8 and Holden Commodore SS may be quick, but they’re not as quick as the Falcon XR6 Turbo.

Part of our exhaustive Ford Falcon versus Holden Commodore comparison test involved independent assessment of performance testing.

Drive’s performance testing is conducted in a controlled environment using a Racelogic Driftbox, which uses the GPS satellite system to measure acceleration, among other parameters.

Each of our seven cars – four Ford Falcons and three Holden Commodores – was tested on the same day under the same conditions.

We’ve previously published the performance figures for the more placid Falcons and Commodores, but this week it’s the turn of the performance models.

Full performance data is available at the bottom of this page.

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Ok, now we've seen a comparison of most of the ranges (VE and FG) (albeit a drive.com comparison, which was also far too brief for such a long test for my liking) we can make a vague judgment.

The FG is definitely a step up from BF, no question. And the XR6 Turbo is obviously a huge contender for the best Aussie performance car. However, the XR6T undercuts its claimed 0-100km/h figure of 5.1 seconds and the SS-V undercut its claimed time of 5.4 seconds, whether this is because of the 95 Octane diet, is questionable. The SS-V has achieved much faster times, why drive didn't mention that like they did with the XR6T I don't know. The best time from an SS-V I've seen is 5.25 seconds. The best time I've seen from an FG is of course 5.1 but they weren't showroom models, and I'm skeptical about every manufacturer when they hand the keys of hand chosen models over to journo's. I always have been, even when the VE was released. Showroom models is what i want to see.

What the review tells us:

1. Drive.com feel that the XR6T is faster than the SS-V (obviously shown in their results)
2. The XR8 is nowhere and is shadowed by its Turbo sibling and the more athletic Holden V8s
3. The SS-V is flatter through the corners, absorbs bumps better and settles quicker
4. The XR8's fuel consumption is improved but is still the worst of both ranges.
5. The Commodore is more comfortable, spacious, the seats are better and have more support, the steering has better adjustment and has a superior seating position.
6. The SS-V's A-pillar is hugely intrusive (thats a big claim, its not that intrusive)
7. The XR6T has excellent cruising fuel economy
8. The SS-V is safer with more airbags
9. The FG has a cleaner console setup

Ok, from that, all I can read is that the XR6 Turbo is faster to 0-100km/h and standing quarter, and has a better cruising fuel consumption, and that might change after the Holden V8 receives cylinder shutdown systems, And thats about it. The FG is a good car, but the SS-V handles better, is more comfortable and the interior is better overall.

The XR6T is the faster by a pinch, but the SS-V is better in alot more areas. Interior space, seating position/quality, safer, better equipped, has good fuel economy for a engine its size, more space for passengers, handling/dynamics, it looks alot better and is more comfortable.

As far as I can see and tell, the XR6T is the fastest and has better cruising fuel economy but the SS-V is better overall. The SS-V's price is justified by those facts and it is worth that much more, probably more than its price suggests. I'd be happy to fork out $3000 more for a better overall car and be a few tenths slower anyday.
 

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It sounds to me that if you get the ford then you will have more bragging rights over the SS-V. However with the SS-V you will have a better daily driver so you have to pick what you would rather have?

What would happen if the Holden's got Gen V SBC V-8 engines with VVT and direct injection? I think that this will solve the turbo 6 Ford being faster problem and will give the Holden's better fuel economy.
 

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It sounds to me that if you get the ford then you will have more bragging rights over the SS-V. However with the SS-V you will have a better daily driver so you have to pick what you would rather have?

What would happen if the Holden's got Gen V SBC V-8 engines with VVT and direct injection? I think that this will solve the turbo 6 Ford being faster problem and will give the Holden's better fuel economy.
If ford put those same technologies into that ancient i6 then i'm sure it would be faster too.
 

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If ford put those same technologies into that ancient i6 then i'm sure it would be faster too.
The Ford I-6 turbo has one advantage going for it...... its turbocharged.........

The engine in the SS-V is 6.0L however its only tuned for 362BHP...............

If they dropped the 6.2L LS3 under the hood of the SS-V as tuned in the Corvette then it would jump from 362BHP up 74BHP then it would also beat the I-6 turbo..............
 

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And if the SV6 was turbocharged...
That would be one hell of a motor. Turbo SV6 would be a brilliant car and I'm betting it would be hugely popular, probably outsell the XR6T and take over the throne for the most popular Aussie sports sedan from the SS.

The Ford I-6 turbo has one advantage going for it...... its turbocharged.........

The engine in the SS-V is 6.0L however its only tuned for 362BHP...............

If they dropped the 6.2L LS3 under the hood of the SS-V as tuned in the Corvette then it would jump from 362BHP up 74BHP then it would also beat the I-6 turbo..............
True, but I think Holden need to start looking at more intelligent moves. A turbo Alloytec is a good idea, hell, a supercharged Alloytec would be even better. A V8 with cylinder shutdown and direct injection would put the SS back in form against the XR6T. A direct injection V8 will be in the SS soon, don't you worry, as soon as GM releases their Gen V motors then thats just it. GM Gen V engines have direct injection, cylinder shutdown technology, and I think much better flowing extractors. When that engine debuts in the Camaro when it receives its first model update in 2009/10 then give a year more and Holden HSV will have their hands on it. The 6.2L LS3 is the last Gen IV engine to go into production. So The LS7, LS9/LSA and LS3 are the only engines left. When the Gen V engines are introduced, headed by the new LS6, Holden will have a grasp on that particular market.

i still think a supercharged SV6 is in the works and will be introduced a bit after the DI 3.6 is, so standard 225kW, 370Nm, Supercharged, 270kW, 490/500Nm. The SS will be ramped up to 285kW and 540Nm, the HSV's will be ramped up to 325/330kW and 570/80Nm when they've been given tougher componentry to cope with the extra torque.

i think Holden have a serious aresenal ready to be launched.
 

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So where did you hear about the Supercharged V6? I haven't heard anything.

Also, how will a 270kw 450nm/500nm SV6 beat a 270kw/533nm XR6T, when the current 270kw 530nm SS can't?

Besides, I still don't think that a straight line fist fight has ever been a definitive indicator of a cars status (not since the seventies anyway). Nonetheless, the I6T powered cars of this final aussie generation would be worth having in your collectors garage. Personally, I'd pick the orange.
 

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So where did you hear about the Supercharged V6? I haven't heard anything.

Also, how will a 270kw 450nm/500nm SV6 beat a 270kw/533nm XR6T, when the current 270kw 530nm SS can't?

Besides, I still don't think that a straight line fist fight has ever been a definitive indicator of a cars status (not since the seventies anyway). Nonetheless, the I6T powered cars of this final aussie generation would be worth having in your collectors garage. Personally, I'd pick the orange.
If it ever comes to pass, I'm not convinced about the merits of using superchargers - too much loss on drive mechanisms.. The Turbo would get better overall results

Mike
 

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If it ever comes to pass, I'm not convinced about the merits of using superchargers - too much loss on drive mechanisms.. The Turbo would get better overall results

Mike
If you are looking purely at an ability to efficiently produce horsepower and torque then yes turbochargers would be better.

However there are other factors to think about when producing a forced induced engine..........

for one a supercharger requires less blumbing, takes up less space, adds less weight, and doesn't add as much heat as a turbocharger adds.
 

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So where did you hear about the Supercharged V6? I haven't heard anything.

Also, how will a 270kw 450nm/500nm SV6 beat a 270kw/533nm XR6T, when the current 270kw 530nm SS can't?

Besides, I still don't think that a straight line fist fight has ever been a definitive indicator of a cars status (not since the seventies anyway). Nonetheless, the I6T powered cars of this final aussie generation would be worth having in your collectors garage. Personally, I'd pick the orange.
I never said a supercharged SV6 would be faster. I just said it would be mighty popular. Australia's best selling performance sedan is the SS, and a supercharged SV6 could be a real contender for that status. The XR6T is good, I just can't see it selling as well as the SS has over the past 13 years. Denny mooney said in an interview with WHEELS that they were definitely looking at supercharging. its not preposterous to think they have a pretty far advanced prototype anyway.

Turbo is good for horsepower, torque gains, but supercharging has the power from go, it doesn't need to spool up (that doesn't apply to the expensive variable vane turbos, but Ford won't invest heavily into that kind of technology), there is less heat created, less plumbing and far less computer tuning is required and superchargers aren't as expensive to service or repair as turbos are.

If a supercharger was applied much more intelligently, maybe the new low-resistant ones (they are expensive but worth it), the SV6 would be brilliant. Slapping a supercharger on isn't smart, and adding a turbo is a smarter move on that front, but if done properly, supercharging holds more advantages than disadvantages and would be a better choice than a turbo. A turbo VE is unlikely, the engine bay is already cramped and thermal issues would restrict that. The I6 is narrow, so there is still some room for tinkering and adding turbos and such.
 

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With Holden producing the engines for SAAB, I'm sure turbocharging the 3.6 is being looked at. Add to that the reputation / culture of the 3.0 Lt Holden (@Nissan) Turbo, compared to the lacklustre 3.8 lt Supercharged and a Turbo (maybe Twin) must being looked at. Bring it on.
 

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You won't see factory supercharging here except on very low volume. Noise and efficiency is the reason why.

Turbos offboost provide very little restriction on cruise and low-blow setups can be optimised for economy. Superchargers present a drag to the motor 100% of the time, even with an idler clutch.

Plus turbos reduce muffling difficulties, both on the intake and exhaust side which both require less bafflng. Blowers add to them on both sides, plus there's the noise of the drive gears or cogs and chains or belts.

And turbo plumbing doesn't have to flow especially well. Exhaust and intake for a blower setup is critical and the blower can only really go in one place on a v-config motor.

Holden won't bother with a turbo six while they have a relatively cheap compliant eight coming in in crates. Who cares if a turbo Falc is marginally quicker. To me and many others hairdryers don't interest at all - I see them as cheating. I'll have one on a diesel. On my roadcar or bike? No way. Sure, some people might jump ship to the XR6T for eay hp. But it isn't really a substitute for a V8 in feel.

Many of those only interested in straightline speed are already off on the Supra or Skyline quest, or WRX/Evo/Liberty GT. Offboost, all those turbo cars are lowcomp dungers with uninspiring feel and noise. HP is easy to get, so's detonated motors and turbo lag. A V8 idling or rumbling away effortlessly at low RPM is still a V8.

Holden's been selling SS's for 30 years, and it always sells, competition or not. Because it's still way more car than most people can ever use with quite high limits for comparatively little money.
 

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I also read about Holden leaning towards Supercharging, Capa does a kit for the Alloytech that's 440kw, So 270-300kw shouldn't be all that hard, But truth is it can't touch the V8 Holdens.
So i think the idea as an alternative option with less performance holds some water.
Holden has this fascination with S/C over Turbo.
If someone in the GM family wanted the 3.6ltV6TT Saab Alfa Cadillac, Holden would have it tomorrow. Because that would then allow a good enough reason to build it, If holden alone want it that's not good enough.

But if Holden do Supercharged please don't **** it up like the Ecotec S/C.. That engine should have been running 200kw with ease and not left at 171kw for so long.

So i like the idea...

SS SS-V..... 6LT 290kw 550Nm..
SV6 Calais... 3.6LT V6 DI 225kw 370Nm.
Option 3.6LT V6 S/C 270kw 510Nm.

I think Supercharging brings on more Torque, So power figures can stay lower then the V8's without killing performance all together.

With HSV i can only see them going 327kw 570Nmnext.
They could bring back the XU6.. Up boost 300kw 540Nm.

Even if they can't beat the XR6T and F6, They would rock them and give People who actually like performance from a 6 something.
 

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Hard to know what Holden is considering. The Torana was a Twin Turbo job and despite poor torque figures it seemed holden may have been lookin in that direction. If they do consider forced induction i hope they put alot of R&D into it before throwing it onto the market. Also they need to consider fuel as the XR6T is pretty damn good on fuel for the power it boasts (although im sure it is poor if your right foot is heavy). But Holden do have alot to think about, lotsa potential but its down to demand i suppose. The V8 is selling remarkably well and until they notice a sales dropping then they may not even consider changing anything.
 
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