Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint uses carbon-fibre
The Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint will feature carbon-fibre on its air intake system, manufactured locally by a supplier for the Joint strike fighter project and Australian Defence Forces.
Ford Australia announced today that its Falcon swansong would be the first of its kind to use the lightweight, high-strength composite on its intake duct, in place of the usual blow-moulded plastic.
The XR6 Sprint’s carbon-fibre intake was developed in Victoria alongside Melbourne supplier and engineering firm Premcar, and has been manufactured by Geelong’s Quickstep, a military supplier that wants to produce composites for the global automotive industry.
Ford Australia says the system was developed by its local engineering team to handle the blown engine’s higher compression and faster turbo spooling. The system is more responsive and significantly stronger than comparable plastic designs.
The use of carbon-fibre enabled Ford to use a much thinner material — the air-conditioning lines inhibit space, so this is good — that is also much stiffer, so it won't change shape under heat or load. This final part weighs half as much as the regular XR6’s plastic one, at 235 grams.
In the case of the XR6 Sprint, the material was sourced from the UK, is raw-finished and each of the four layers was hand-laid by Quickstep’s people. Ford is the latter company’s first car-maker client.
Ford Australia CEO Graeme Whickman said: “The Falcon XR6 Sprint’s new innovative carbon fibre engine air intake is the latest example of how our local engineers and suppliers will reshape the auto industry well into the future.”
He also claimed that: “The Falcon’s legacy will live on well beyond this year through our designers and engineers that will continue to innovate to make Australian’s lives better.”
Ford Australia points out that this work builds on its Australian R&D investment of almost $2 billion in the past six years, including $300 million invested in 2015 alone. It continues to be the Asia Pacific development hub, working on a swathe of global cars.
Meanwhile, Quickstep CEO and managing director David Marino said his company — which manufactures advanced composites in Australia for the aerospace industry and develops and licenses advanced composite manufacturing technologies for the globe, would accelerate the commercialisation of its technology for the automotive industry.
“Quickstep is very proud of our relationship with the Ford brand and the iconic XR6 Sprint, which represents the best of Australia’s automotive design and engineering capabilities,” he said.
“Through this program, Quickstep Automotive has now qualified its materials and processes with a well-respected global vehicle manufacture in Ford and this should lead to other automotive composite opportunities in the future.”
Premcar and Quickstep are not the only local suppliers/builders/engineers to wade into carbon-fibre technology alongside Ford.
In 2015, Geelong’s Carbon Revolution began developing and manufacturing locally the world’s first mass-produced carbon fibre wheels for the Mustang Shelby GT350R for North America.
About the Ford Falcon XR6 Sprint:
The Falcon XR6 Sprint and XR8 Sprint models will go on sale in May this year, a few months ahead of the closure of Ford Australia’s production sites in Geelong and Campbellfield, Victoria. A total of 550 XR6 Sprints will be made, alongside 850 XR8s.
The XR6 Sprint’s 4.0-litre turbo-six engine gets 325kW of power and 576Nm of torque — up from 270kW and 533Nm. That power figure sharply jumps to 370kW and 650Nm briefly when the 10-second overboost feature comes into play.
The XR6 Turbo Sprint will be offered at $54,990 plus on-road costs, marking a $9800 premium over its regular counterpart.
Tricks at work in the XR6 Turbo Sprint include pilfering the FPV F6’s turbo and injectors, but there’s also a larger intercooler, a lower-positioned airbox, enlarged air intake design, and a unique calibration to the engine and six-speed automatic transmission (no manual with this one).
In both models, gold-painted six-piston Brembo calipers will work up front, while four-piston Brembos will bring up the rear. In regular XR8 form, there’s four-pot Brembos at the front wheels and singles at the back.