Models driven: FPV GT E, GT-P, F6, Super Pursuit, Pursuit – all autos
– by David Twomey
The first word that springs to mind in regard to the FG Falcon based Ford Performance Vehicle range is ‘entertaining’, and the entertainment comes in bag loads provided you are aware of both your limitations and those of the cars.
Not that there are many limitations on the new FPV range, now a simplified collection of just GT and F6 variants, except for the utilities, which still retain the Pursuit and Super Pursuit names.
In line with the reworked naming of the mainstream models, gone are the Typhoon, Tornado and Force.
The bulk of the FPV range is still as in your face as ever, with bold striping and strong colours in evidence across the range, except for the pinnacle of the GT range the all-new GT E , which has been very much caste in the mould of the Euro executive express.
The GT cars all get the 5.4-litre V8, which has been the subject of no less than 29,000 engineering hours of work to squeeze more power from it and more refinement from the way it produces that power.
There’s a new twin plate throttle body, new camshaft profile, altered timing and new stainless steel straight-through exhaust manifolds, along with a higher compression ratio.
All this means an extra 13kW for a total of 315kW peaking at an all important 6500rpm – 500rpm more than previously. Torque is a fat 551Nm at 4750rpm.
On the road this engine feels eager and powerful, unlike the somewhat lazy version that we found in the FG Falcon XR8 when it was launched a month or so ago.
The V8 is happy to get on with the business and revs freely and strongly, hauling the not inconsiderable bulk of the GT models to very substantial speeds in seemingly short periods of time.
We weren’t able to run any acceleration figures on the cars but we reckon they would be pretty good.
It’s a similar story with the 4.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine in the F6 cars, power has jumped a substantial 40kW to 310kW at 5500rpm.
What’s even more impressive is the torque curve, if you could call it that as it runs a flat line from 1950rpm to 5200rpm with the magic number of 565Nm all the way along that line.
FPV General Manager Rod Barrett was at pains during the launch to point out that he wasn’t getting into a power war with his competition, all these improvements, he said, were about making the cars more driveable.
Top speed on the sedans has been pegged at 250km/h and for the utes its 240km/h.
FPV was also quick to point out that all the work they’ve done screwing more power out of these engines hasn’t been at the expense of fuel efficiency and both the F6 and GT have had reductions in official fuel consumption figures.
The six-cylinder recorded a credible 12.1L/100km and the Boss V8 14.0L/100km.
In fact we can record that driving an F6 example at a steady 110km/h over a 60 kilometre route we recorded a very commendable 8.7L/100km and a V8 Super Pursuit ute turned in 9.9L/100km on a similar run.
Of course, prod the throttle pedal seriously and those numbers just fly out the window.
Safety has also received a major upgrade and Dynamic Stability Control – Ford’s version of ESC – is standard across the range and every variant gets Brembo brakes, while a range of aggressively styled alloy wheels and low profile Dunlop tyres are the norm.
Fire up the V8 and there’s a satisfyingly deep rumble from the engine and exhaust. Head down the road and there’s a substantial and sustained whack in the back as these cars have serious acceleration.
The fat torque curve can be worked really well in almost any gear, we only drove automatic models of all the cars on the launch drive as the manual versions seemed to be in short supply.
It’s a similar but different story in the F6, all high-tech turbo whoosh and simply staggering acceleration.
While the V8 feels meaty and as we’ve already said the performance is much more lively than the XR8, in the F6 that 310kW of power is just something to behold.
FPV says it has made the V8 cars less nose heavy in their feel and while that may be true to a certain extent the car still dives on the nose, when pushed hard in a corner.
Not so the F6 which is lively and much more responsive, the downside here is that the chassis, and I feel more particularly the tyres, struggle to keep up with the power. The result is a DSC system that’s almost permanently in operation if you are cornering really hard.
Yes you can turn it off, but for most drivers I would suggest that action is at your own peril, unless you are on a race track where there’s the opportunity to recover the car.
While we only got to drive the cars equipped with the superb ZF six-speed automatic sport-shift transmission we weren’t really complaining as this gearbox is a delight and entirely up to the job in the new FPV’s.
It certainly has to be said that some of the poise of the sedans goes out the window with the utes, they jolt and jump around a lot more, but then you do have that big empty space behind you.
Another downside of that space was an amplification of the road noise, particularly tyre noise, which all the FPV range seemed to suffer from, even when running on very smooth tarmac.
Talking to some FPV executives they admitted that tyre noise was an increasing problem, especially as the cars were made quieter, and one even suggested there may be a case for lowering the speed limter from the current 250km/h so that lower speed rating tyres, which would produce less road noise, could be fitted to the cars.
Everything considered we’d have to say that FPV has taken an excellent car in the FG Falcon and turned it into an excellent high-performance sports sedan.