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2009 Ford FPV GT 5th Anniversary Road Test & Review
Every boy's dream, 315kW and rear-wheel-drive ...
- 2009 Ford FPV GT 5th Anniversary - six-speed automatic - $71,890
- None fitted.
- by Paul Maric
It’s the fifth year of operation for Ford Australia’s performance arm FPV and with consistently improving sales figures, plus a wide range of performance offerings, it decided to celebrate with a 5th Anniversary GT.
We were invited to the party with a road test of this special edition Falcon, of which only 200 will be made – meaning that just one in every 110,000 Australians could ever own one, it’s almost as rare as the Saab 9-5 range!
I’ll be the first to admit, this thing has presence, lots of presence. I’ve always said that the F6 310 is a better purchase option in terms of performance, tune-ability and overall drive, but nothing matches the feeling of getting about in a car which looks like it’s about to give birth to a thumping V8.
The powerplant that moves Ford’s V8 FPV range is a modular engine used throughout the Ford range worldwide in one form or another. Some forms of the BOSS 5.4-litre, four-valve, DOHC engine have superchargers attached and see north of 400kW coming through the flywheel.
Either way, it’s got credibility and with assembly taking place in Australia’s only V8 production line, it’s seen as a sophisticated engine in comparison to the offerings from HSV and Chrysler’s SRT division.
After grabbing the keys from reception I was instantly frazzled by the annoying and extremely high-pitched alarm activation/deactivation noise that now comes with Ford’s FG FPV range.
Without even glancing at the interior, I started navigating the intuitive new multimedia interface to disable the ear wrenching sound. I’m sure you can imagine how subtle it is when you go to grab something from the car in the early hours of the morning.
One of the best parts of the new Falcon range is indeed the multimedia interface, which allows you to configure every last aspect of the car, from the level of treble, right through to the sensitivity the automatic headlights.
It’s followed with Bluetooth capability for your telephone, MP3 capability and full iPod integration. Unfortunately, the sound system is still complete rubbish. It’s been like this for years with the Falcon, the subwoofer Ford puts in the car isn’t tuned for its case, so it rattles everything around it and has fairly insubstantial amounts of bass.
It’s a total contrast to the Sony sound system installed in the Mondeo, which rivals some of the best in the business when it comes to sound systems. There was also an issue with the steering wheel controls at night. The controls aren’t backlit, so it’s a bit of guesswork until you memorise the location of each control.
In terms of the interior, it’s a dark affair with subtle dash and door highlights. Faux carbonfibre panels populate the dashboard and door trimmings, while the seats are embossed with the GT symbol and seat heads with the 5th Anniversary symbol, which looks and feels very cool.
The driving position is vastly different to the previous BF FPV range. It used to feel as though you were sitting on the car, opposed to in the car. It was like you were steering from the roof instead of the driver’s seat and there was always a cramped feeling in the cabin due to the windscreen slope.
This time around, it feels like you’re in control from the driver’s seat, although the steering wheel could sit higher, but it’s bearable once you get used to it. Aside from electric angled tilt, the rest of the seat movements are manual, which is disappointing in a car that plunders your wallet to the tune of $70,000.
Back seat room is also far more spacious than it used to be. A five passenger drive isn’t a cramped affair anymore either. Legroom is better, as is entry and exit due to the new rear passenger door cutaway.
It baffles me why we’re so far behind in Australia when it comes to cutting edge features. Xenon headlights are nowhere to be seen across the entire Ford range, the FG range also misses out on automatic windscreen wipers, front parking sensors, proximity key entry and heated seats.
Some of those features are standard fitment on sub-$40,000 European cars, I can’t imagine why they are still foreign to Aussie built cars.
Anyway, it didn’t take long to realise that all this was irrelevant, mainly due to the blissful engine note this 5.4-litre V8 spits out of the pipes each time you stand on the gas.
Turn the key and nudge the starter button and the BOSS fires to life. This example of the 5th Anniversary GT is fitted with the ZF Sachs six-speed automatic gearbox. The V8 engine rumbles at idle in a sophisticated sort of way. It’s not loud and intrusive like an ‘old school’ V8, but it has presence.
There is a very deep rumble at idle when in gear with the windows down that can get a bit overpowering at times. It’s when you jump on the loud pedal that things start becoming fun. As the engine revs increase, it becomes louder and deeper. It crescendos when it hits about 4100rpm, at which point the semi-active-muffler (SAM) bypasses air through part of the muffler to increase the engine note.
The deeper engine note makes it bellow with intention and transforms it from a run-of-the-mill V8 into a traditional muscle car.
Straight-line acceleration begins with wheel spin, which is reined in by the traction control. Gearshifts happen late and quite suddenly, courtesy of this ripper gearbox. You’ll find yourself shifting from 0-100km/h in around 5.4-seconds, not bad for a hulk weighing in at a hefty 1844kg!
Acceleration is extremely smooth and manageable, there’s no noticeable peak through the rev band, which in my opinion is a sign of a great engine.
Fuel consumption for the 315kW, 551Nm V8 is said to be 14.0-litres/100km. Over the course of the drive, I drove almost an exact 50/50 split of highway/city driving, coming out to 13.8-litres/100km.
I was quite impressed with the fuel consumption when you consider that I was giving a boot-full at each opportunity to listen to the exhaust note.
During regular driving, the ride is mildly firm but more than acceptable. It soaks up bumps in an impressive fashion and makes the car feel like a GT in every sense of the word. The question is, does the subtle ride affect the handling characteristics?
If you recall my previous road test on the F6 310, I complained about the car’s handling, and unfortunately, the 5th Anniversary GT suffers the same fate.
The added weight of the V8 engine over the front wheels makes it a bit front heavy. On turn in, you feel the wheels struggling somewhat for grip and the harder you push, the more it wallows.
The width of the rear tyres hasn’t increased since the outgoing BF model (245mm wide), meaning again there is more wheel spin than there needs to be. So it feels like a battle of lack of front-end grip, followed by a nagging need for oversteer from the rear.
The aforementioned traits only really occur when really getting into it and mainly on tighter corners. If you work within the car’s limitations and realise it’s not a Euro-beating sports car, it can really reward the driver. Sure, it’s great value for money, but it will never match the likes of an M3 Sedan when it comes to handling, no matter how many hell-bent Ford fans like to think it does.
Shifting cogs with the ZF Sachs transmission is an absolute pleasure. Forget using manual shifts, the sport mode is the best way to take care of business. The adaptive sport mode quickly learns what you expect from your drive. Full throttle sledges and hard braking turn this sedate gearbox into a ferocious monster.
Hard braking causes blips on the downshift and allows gears to be held right to redline without constant and annoying upshifts when you don’t need them. The gearbox is always in the right gear when you want it to be. You’re never left longing for the previous gear, which is something suffered by a lot of cheaper gearboxes.
Braking is taken care of by six-pot, 355mm cross-drilled and slotted brakes up front, while the rear is fitted with 330mm, four-pot cross-drilled and slotted brakes. Brake feel is uniform and constant no matter how long and hard they are used.
The most appealing part of the premium brake package is that the brakes can easily be used in day to day driving. They don’t have the feeling of some cars, which have average braking ability before the rotors are warm.
On top of the regular kit of the GT, the 5th Anniversary gets unique 19-inch alloy wheels (silver in colour), premium Brembo braking package, leather seats finished in Nudo leather, 5th Anniversary embossing on seat heads, unique floor mats and unique build number badge.
The 5th Anniversary GT comes with $9600 worth of extras, for just a $5300 premium over the regular GT, making it $71,890.
Like I said at the start of this article, although the F6 310 is a heap of fun to drive and is arguably a better performer through the bends, it’s just something else driving the GT and the 5th Anniversary in particular.
The amount of looks I received while driving the car was unparalleled. Available only in two colours, Lightning Silver or Silhouette, the 5th Anniversary gets attention everywhere it goes.
Diehard Ford fans fall over themselves to get a look, kids point and stare in awe, while Holden fans get in sneaky glances.
It’s a Catch 22, although the car offers tremendous bang for your buck, it falls behind when it comes to true performance characteristics. But, I suspect the type of person who buys this car won’t be all that fussed with the way it bounces over an apex to slay corners.
I’m sure it would be more than easy to kit out the 5th Anniversary GT with rock-hard suspension to quell body roll and have some components removed to save weight, but, that would strip it of the ‘GT’ moniker. As it stands, this has to be one of the best Grand Tourers on the market in its price range.
Although the F6 310 is plenty of fun to get about in, the 5th Anniversary GT is just something else all together. Now, negotiating a couple of extra weeks in the car ... wish me luck!
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:
- Engine: 5408cc V8
- Power: 315kW @ 6500rpm
- Torque: 551Nm @ 4750rpm
- Induction: Naturally aspirated
- Transmission: Six-speed ZF Sachs automatic
- Differential/Driven Wheels: Rear-wheel-drive
- Brakes: 350mm six-pot front/330mm four-pot rear
- Top Speed: N/A
- 0-100km/h: 5.4-seconds
- 0-400m: N/A
- CO2 Emissions: 334g/km
- Fuel Consumption: 14.0-litres/100km
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 68-litres
- Fuel Type: 95RON petrol
- ANCAP Rating: Five star
- Airbags: Six
- Safety: ABS brakes with EBD and BA. ESP.
- Spare Wheel: Space saver.
- Tow Capacity: N/A
- Turning Circle: 11m
- Warranty: Three-years/100,000km
- Weight: 1852kg
- Wheels: 19-inch allows with 245/35ZR19 tyres