After driving the HSV Clubsport R8, what better than to punt it against one of the best from the FPV stables - the F6 Typhoon.
When you look at the power and torque figures these two boast, the match up seems slightly unfair. On one hand there is the bellowing LS2 juggernaut from the lion’s den, whilst on the other hand there is a seemingly quaint inline six-cylinder – from the blue oval – with a blow dryer attached. Surely a whiney, turbocharged taxi is no match for a man’s brute with a dirty big V8?
Well…that’s what I thought – until I set foot in the ‘phoon.
The interior’s nothing to write home about, it looks much like any other Falcon’s interior, only adding a sports steering wheel, gauge pod (with boost and oil pressure) and fancy starter button. The difference lies within the handling and sheer performance characteristics.
Although the Typhoon only produces 270kW of power, it’s good for a staggering 550Nm of torque – identical to the HSV’s 6.0-litre V8. All that torque comes on hard and bloody strong from around 2000RPM, all the way to redline – which isn’t actually marked on the tachometer funnily enough.
One thing’s for certain, you’ve got to be on your best behavior when steering the ‘phoon. It’s got to be one of the liveliest cars on the road. With a set of 245-wide licorice strips at the rear, it constantly grapples for grip. Nail it from a standing start and watch as the traction control light flashes like mad until you back off the throttle. The noise this thing makes under full-throttle acceleration is enough to give any motoring tragic a hard-on. It sounds like a jet fighter gathering all its breath, right before slamming a tidal wave of torque into the driver and passenger’s chests.
The exhaust has been tuned within earshot of perfection and lets out a billowing wail under acceleration. On top of that, the noise from inside the car is just as good, giving the driver that feeling of excitement. The HSV on the other hand doesn't sound as good from outside in comparison to the 'phoon, but that's nothing a new exhaust won't fix (click to check out the HSV Clubsport R8 review with TOMCAT exhaust).
The regular 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder makes plenty of torque to begin with, adding a turbo is just downright naughty. After getting acquainted with both vehicles, we set off to the hills to see what the HSV Clubsport R8 and FPV F6 Typhoon were all about.
Not long after setting off, it’s obvious that the FPV’s steering is quite heavy in comparison to the HSV. That’s not such a bad thing though, both vehicles have perfectly sculpted steering wheels to allow plenty of grip space, along with room for turning when pegging through bends. In comparison, the HSV’s steering is as light as a feather, the ‘phoon allows the driver to feel the road and know exactly what the tyres are doing.
The brakes are far from an afterthought. The cross-drilled Brembo stoppers used on the Falcon do a phenomenal job of keeping everything in check. During the run through the mountains, they never showed any sides of fade or lack of pedal feel, reiterating the car’s ability throughout braking intensive courses.
A six-speed gearbox is common to both vehicles, but only one stood out in all aspects of driving. Ford’s ZF gearbox (produced by ZF Sachs) did a stellar job of powering the ‘phoon through stop-start city traffic and also through nail biting twists and bends. The seemingly bulletproof gearbox shifted quickly and precisely and always seemed to be in the right gear. During harder driving, the sport mode intelligently chooses the right gear and can even hold gears indefinitely if required. During hard braking, the gearbox actively shifts into a lower gear to aid braking and also allowing maximum power out of corners after the braking effort.
Although the Typhoon has a potent ability to light up the rears, it managed to drill all the power down to the ground when tackling the twisty stint of road, testament to the car’s handling dynamics. Body roll was slightly more prevalent in comparison to the Clubsport, but that’s nothing a firm set of springs wouldn’t fix.
The driving positions are totally different in both vehicles. The HSV has the driver slung low to the ground, whilst the ‘phoon sits the driver high up – very high up in fact. It takes a little while to get used to the FPV as the driving position feels almost unnatural to begin with. After a few clicks it becomes second nature. Neither driving position – in the HSV or FPV – is better nor worse, it’s just something that was quite evident when driving both vehicles back to back.
In terms of straight line performance, the R8 and Typhoon don’t get any closer. Off the line, the Typhoon battles for grip as the turbo force-feeds air into the engine, but once it gets moving, they both unilaterally accelerate to 100 clicks per hour. Through the corners, it’s a similar story. Both of the vehicles grip tight and drill down power without many dramas. The only gripe lies with the ‘phoon’s mild amount of body roll.
At $61,810, the FPV F6 Typhoon undercuts the Clubsport R8 by some $1,000. But, the Typhoon misses out on several features that should be mandatory on this type of vehicle – such as an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and rear parking sensors, which are both standard on the HSV Clubsport R8.
Although we didn't get a reply from Ford during the production of the article, it's believed that FPV haven't fitted DSC to the FPV range due to the extensive engineering and testing requirements that need to take place before such a sophisticated system is prepared. As such, we think that Ford will simply wing it until the 2008 Falcon arrives, which should - if Ford's thinking clearly - be fitted with DSC as standard equipment throughout the range.
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Overall, both of these cars offer brilliant bang for your buck. On one hand you have a deep-throated growling V8; whilst on the other lies an air-snorting turbocharged six. At the end of the day, the only choice you need to make is your brand allegiance, as both of these things will annihilate almost anything off the lights, this side of $80,000.
At the end of the day though, the HSV manages to offer more equipment - both in terms of safety and features - than the FPV. But, only so much can be expected when you consider this series of Falcons has been around for nigh on six years, whilst the E-series HSV range has only been around for about 6-months. If you're a Ford tragic though, there's no going past this intoxicating force-fed six. If the noise won't do it for you, the aggressive looks and potent driving experience is bound to.
CarAdvice rating (out of 5):
- by Anthony Crawford and Paul Maric