1998 Ford Falcon AU XR6 HP 4.0 Intech from Australia and New Zealand
More care on detail would have made a good performance buy a great performance buy.
Directional tyre on backwards from new.
Wheel alignment problem from new.
Some exterior badges missing from new.
Seat frame kept coming through foam wearing out fabric.
Limited slip diff was sticking.
Engine idled roughly.
Tape player used to play up when hot.
Panel fit not good by modern standards.
There is no doubt that of the first of the AU XR models, the XR6 HP is the cut-price performer.
While down slightly on power on the variable camshaft timing (VCT) models with 164kW as opposed to 172kW, it made up for the shortfall with a superior power-to-weight ratio thanks to the absence of the VCT's independent rear suspension.
While the live axle does make the HP jump around more on uneven surfaces, high-speed touring is this car's forte and it does this with ease.
The car has performance aplenty, even if the enjoyment of this is dampened somewhat by driveline snatch and gear whine from the 5-speed manual.
But the car goes hard, and handles brilliantly for a large car. Tickford tuning makes the steering pin-sharp and the car turns into corners with a neutral to oversteer stance, depending on how buried your right foot is.
Aftermarket Goodyear F1 Eagles helped the handling too as the original Dunlop Bathurst 1000s weren't up to the task.
While the HP is the bare-bones XR model, it is by no means without features. It comes standard with alloy wheels, ABS, driver's airbag, air-conditioning and good-sounding stereo, albiet tape player only.
Where the car is let down is in the area of quality control. Some interior trim and panel fit was not what you would expect from a $40,000 car.
On my car pre-delivery and servicing was also a problem (in Australia). For example, it managed to get through it's pre-delivery and first service without anyone picking up that a directional tyre was on backwards.
It also had a front wheel alignment problem that wasn't fixed for months, and only then by a dealer in another state while I was on holidays. They had to shim the suspension arms to fix it.
The driver's door was out of alignment by about half a centimetre and the nosecone was not much better.
The rear tail-lights leaked water and the front headlights kept getting condensation on the inside of the lenses.
The seat frame came through the foam and fabric and was replaced with a new seat back, which was about to be replaced again under warranty when I sold the car.
The limited slip diff made horrible cracking noises and the constant gear whine and driveline snatch under acceleration, all long-time Falcon traits, were highly annoying.
If you can look past the quality problems though, what you get is a great sports touring car with plenty of go and surprisingly good fuel economy for a big 4.0 litre six-cylinder.
With the new Falcon just around the corner, there will probably be some great bargains about, I might even buy another one myself - If my wife lets me of course.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th August, 2002
I am in my thirties and have driven a 1998 AU XR6 VCT 5 spd man owned by my Mum on a trip from Dubbo to Melbourne and back. The car was a joy to drive the whole way, however roadnoise did become annoying towards the end of the trip.
I am a die hard Holden fan, but would be quiet happy to own an XR6. The car is four years old now and has only completed 35,000kms and a few build problems have surfaced.
The power windows are out of alignment, the paint work is very shabby (black) and seems not to have many coats, water leaks in headlights and tail lights just to name a few.
Overall, I found the car exciting and fun to drive and always ask my Mum if I can take it for a spin whenever I visit. The 172kw of power is plenty of power for the average driver and it handles very well.
I own a VX SS Commodore and although it has a lot more power than the Falcon, it is not as fun to drive.
I've been driving Ford's for over ten years.
The new AU is a much better car than it's predecessors.
With a few bad points such as the condensation in the head lights and the leaking rear tail lights I find the Ford is made for the Australian family sedan.
With plenty of grunt and a pretty good fuel economy, it's quite well built compared to other family car's in the market.
If you look after it and use quality engine oils and have the car serviced at regular intervals you shouldn't have any problems, problem's start arising when you don't even lift the bonnet up to see if all fluids are correct.
Only Milk and Juice comes in 2 Litres.