Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) has produced what it calls the best performance car ever made in Australia: the $76,990 FPV GT RSPEC.
The FPV GT RSPEC is powered by the same all-alloy supercharged 5.0-litre V8 as the previous GT cars, which produces 335 kW of power and 570 Nm of torque. Apart from the local competition and Ford America’s own new 302 Mustang, the GT RSPEC, which was in development for over 18 months, was benchmarked against cars such as the BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and even the Porsche Cayman.
FPV set out to improve its existing package by matching the might of the supercharged engine with better dynamics. Bernard Quinn, chief engineer of the project from Prodrive, which owns 51 per cent of FPV, said the aim was to create a more agile and responsive vehicle.
Quinn says the first obvious change was the addition of wider 275mm rear tyres. This simply required getting the right offset wheels with no serious suspension work necessary apart from alignment changes. It was also confirmed that the new wider wheels would still fit onto a standard FPV GT with the correct alignment.
From there, roll and body control were vastly improved through considerable changes to the suspension and mounts. For example, the FPV GT RSPEC has stiffer rear springs and a 19mm rear anti-roll bar. The engineers went so far as to stiffen the powertrain mounts, with the transmission mount now twice as stiff as the standard FPV GT.
The second focus was steering feel, which FPV says has been improved for a more responsive feel. There’s now more emphasis on ensuring that any steering input by the driver, regardless of magnitude, is met by a reaction from the car.
FPV engineers were aware of their cars' desire to burn the rear tyres in a launch situation, which is why for the first time in the company’s history they have introduced a model with launch control. The idea was to match the torque output with the available traction.
In the manual transmission vehicles, launch control is engaged by leaving the traction control on, selecting first gear, depressing the clutch pedal and applying full throttle. The GT RSPEC’s computer will then hold engine revs at 3000rpm waiting for the driver to release the clutch pedal. The computer will then match engine torque output to traction in order to optimise the launch.
Automatic GT RSPEC models are even simpler, with the driver needing to press the brake pedal, engage sport mode and then flatten the accelerator and release the brake pedal at the same time.
While the strictly limited 350 GT RSPEC vehicles are being produced, FPV has ceased production of its regular GT car with plans to resume at a later date. FPV boss Bryan Mears said it was still to be determined if the ‘standard’ car will get the suspension and body changes of the GT RSPEC when it recommences production.
Of the 350 GT RSPEC cars, 175 will be in the hero silhouette black colour and the rest will be in a combination of kinetic blue, vixen and winter white (with the colour breakout determined by dealer orders).
Mears boasted that the GT RSPEC provides “terrific value for money” and that dealers have indicated that it’s priced in a good sweet spot. He boasted that it’s “the best car of its kind in Australia bar none, it’s a fantastic drive bar none”.
When pressed on FPV’s expectations, Mears confirmed that all cars have been wholesaled to dealers and that he expects all 350 sedans to find owners quickly. The company has no plans to make any more GT RSPEC regardless of demand.
The car launches in September with a TV commercial that features two FPV ambassadors: Allan Moffat and Will Davison.