Holden VE SS Ute versus Ford Falcon FG XR8 Ute
and Words By: James Stanford Posted:
05-20-08 00:00 PT
© 2008 PickupTrucks.com
doesn’t build a V-8 muscle coupe now that the Holden
Monaro (sold in the U.S. as the Pontiac GTO) is dead. We don't
import the Ford Mustang or the Dodge Challenger, either, but that’s
because we don’t need them.
Why? Because Australia already makes some of the meanest rear-wheel-drive
two-door performance cars out there. Not only are they affordable, they
can carry a shed-load.
pickup might have died
out in the U.S. in the 80s,
but it never stopped selling in Australia. And it's getting faster,
a new benchmark last year with its 362-horsepower VE SS Ute, which
will cross the
Pacific next year as a yet-unnamed Pontiac model (El
Camino was a much-mentioned possibility, but it's
not looking like that will transfer to reality). Its great rival
Ford, however, was not about to lie down without a fight.
Ford hit back with the new FG Falcon lineup, which includes a 362-hp,
turbo inline six-cylinder engine and a new 389-hp Boss V-8. The folks
at Dunlop better start working overtime.
no plan to bring the Falcon to the U.S. anytime soon, but you can bet
it will think again if the Holden Ute sells strongly as a Pontiac.
the Ford and Holden car-based pickups costing between $4,700 and $6,600
less than their sedan counterparts, these light haulers are especially
popular with young blokes who can’t quite afford a sedan
and don’t need more than two seats.
Ford and Holden utes are identical to their sedan siblings from the
A-pillar forward. They also feel much like the sedans from inside the
cabin, apart from there being a bit more road noise.
There’s only room for two people, but there’s a reasonable
amount of space behind the seats. Thanks to an in-depth test, PickupTrucks.com
can confirm that this is more than enough room for a slab of 24 stubbies
(beer bottles) behind each seat. Depending on where you position your
seat, you can fit several slabs of lager in the cabin’s storage
area. You can also fit a couple of overnight bags or several bags of
groceries -- or so we’re told.
Following the FG Falcon sedan, the Ute version has been given a major
upgrade. It has a leaf-spring rear suspension, as opposed to the Holden
Ute, which has a fully independent coil-sprung setup.
with the leaf springs because its ute is more of a workhorse than the Holden.
Its base model can carry 2,734 pounds, which is 983 pounds more than the
Holden, and can tow 5,071 pounds, which is 1,984 pounds more than its rival.
are turned when it comes to the sporty models, though. Thanks to its
big wheels and sport suspension setting, the Falcon XR8 Ute can only
carry 1,190 pounds in the tray, compared to the 1,316 pounds that the
Holden SS can haul. Towing is still in the Falcon's favor. The XR8
can pull 5,071 pounds (same as the base Falcon) while the SS is limited
to 3,527 pounds.
the FG Falcon has a new double-wishbone suspension setup with two lower
ball joints, which Ford calls Virtual Pivot Control Link. It uses a
mixture of aluminum and high-strength steel, which saves 48.5 pounds.
The FG Utes
now run ZF Sachs monotube shock absorbers front and rear, which is
an Aussie first. The Holden Ute uses a MacPherson strut front suspension
setup and twin-tube shock absorbers, but it’s fully
independent, and its coil-sprung rear end is a definite advantage. Both
utes comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, while 19-inch rims are
Holden SS and the Ford XR8 are longer than the sedans on which they’re based, which opens up more room in the tray. The XR8’s
wheelbase also grew 0.35 inches compared to the previous model, now standing
at 122 inches overall, while the tracks edge outward by 1.19 inches and
1.38 inches, front and rear, with both measuring 62.3 inches. In comparison,
the SS has a wheelbase of 118.5 inches and front and rear
tracks of 62.7 inches and 63.3 inches, respectively.
tray dimensions are similar, with the Holden’s being ever
so slightly larger. It measures 72.56 inches long and 46.2
inches across the axle between the wheel arches. The Falcon
Ute’s tray is 1.19 inches shorter and 1.3 inches
narrower between the wheel arches.
If you have
to haul really big stuff, though, the Falcon can be ordered as a cab-chassis
version, which can be fitted with a flat “tinny” tray
for wide loads. Most customers take the standard Styleside Box steel
tub. The Holden Ute used to be offered as a cab-chassis and even as a
four-door crew cab, but those models didn’t sell strongly and thus
were both dropped for the VE program.
Holden and Ford utes can be fitted with a soft tonneau cover that uses
a snap-lock sealing system. If you’re worried about having
your tools stolen when you nick into the pub, both Holden and Ford offer
hard, lockable tonneau covers.
When you enter a pub, the first question you’ll likely
be asked is, "What’s under the bonnet?" In the case of
the Falcon Ute, the base models have a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter
inline six-cylinder. This engine, which is unique to Australia, will
go away in 2010 when Ford sources a Duratec V-6 from the U.S. The inline-six
has a cast-iron block and a twin-cam head, and it generates a respectable
262 hp. Ford also offers a turbocharged version of this engine that pumps
out 362 hp and 393 pounds-feet of torque from just 2,000 rpm all the
way up to 4,750 rpm.