Supercharged whine and a stellar exhaust note, what else more could you want?
Supercharger whine and a stellar exhaust note, what else more could you want?
If you’re Prodrive and FPV though, $40 million will buy you the collaboration’s biggest investment in an engine program to date.
Minimal exterior styling changes – a new stripe package, new wheels and quad pipes – are the extent of the visible changes to the outside of the new FPV range. On the inside, it’s much the same story with minor changes limited to the key, identification plaque and steering wheel badges.
The major changes reside under the bonnet and through the drivetrain. FPV’s new engine is a 5.0-litre V8 unit sourced from the American Mustang. Prodrive has made it unique by supercharging the engine – the first manufacturer application of a supercharged Coyote V8 in the world.
FPV’s supercharged 5.0-litre V8 produces 335kW and an impressive 570Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is rated at 13.7L/100km for the six-speed automatic. With predominantly city conditions during testing, our test car returned around 14.3L/100km.
If you’re one to judge a book by its cover, you’ll likely be sorely disappointed with the initial experience on offer. After turning the key and hitting the starter button, an almost strenuous starter motor attempts to fire the engine.
The tinny starter sound and following idle note from inside the cabin leave a lot to be desired. Even giving the throttle a stab on the spot won’t induce any excitement.
Step outside the car and it’s a totally different story. Standing behind the GT-P on start will get any autophile excited beyond belief. A traditional V8 rumble and hearty engine note resonate through the air and alert anyone passing by that the new engine package means business.
Adding to the effect is a newly designed exhaust that features a set of butterfly valves that open at certain pressure levels associated with a respective engine revolutions. In layman’s terms, when the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 begins singing and heads north of 3800rpm, the exhaust note becomes feral – and not in the bad way.
Back inside the cabin, the driving position remains unchanged from the outgoing BOSS V8. The driver sits fairly high, which is a characteristic of the Falcon range. The low-slung steering wheel is also still a niggling issue for taller drivers like yours truly. The steering wheel doesn’t tilt high enough for sporty driving.
Aside from a different seat design, floor mats and electric driver’s seat, the interior of the GT-P is virtually identical to its GT sibling. A meaty sports steering wheel and body hugging seats ensure an enthralling driving experience.
Ford’s flagship ZF Sachs six-speed automatic gearbox is a no-cost-option on the GT-P and was fitted to our test vehicle.
Behind the wheel, it’s hard to not smile with each and every throttle application. In comparison to the outgoing BOSS engine, the new supercharged V8 feels completely rejuvenated and feels as though it has some added pep in its step.
The supercharger allows throttle response to be extremely sharp and fairly instant, meaning that regardless of the gear you’re in, you have instant and rapid throttle response at the drop of a foot.
The intuitive six-speed automatic gearbox is always in the correct gear and manages hills without the characteristic excessive kick-down of FPV’s old four-speed automatic gearbox. The automatic gearbox also offers a performance mode that holds gears and blips the throttle on downshift to add to the sporty nature of FPV’s new beast.
Acceleration is very linear and extremely quick. While it’s hard to get any traction off the line, the traction control system does a commendable job of reigning in the mass of torque available from standstill.
It’s a shame Ford didn’t increase the tyre width from the standard 245mm wide Dunlop tyres. With added width on the rear tyres, the new supercharged V8 would make a blistering run off the line each time. Now, there’s a mix of wheel spin and sidestepping before the car settles and slingshots to license-losing speeds.
FPV hasn’t released official 0-100km/h figures, but if other publication’s tests are anything to go by, you can expect sub 5-second 0-100km/h times with a perfect launch off the line. That’s seriously impressive and shows you just how brutal the new package is.
Although supercharger whine is evident inside the cabin, it’s nowhere near as loud as it could be. It’s the same story with the engine and exhaust note inside the cabin.
It wasn’t until I stood outside the car and heard it go by at flat-chat that I felt that automotive tingle you only get once in a blue moon. The ferocity of the exhaust note at high-rpm is right on the limits of noise regulations. Then there’s the lion’s roar that’s emitted during a gear shift into second and third gears at full throttle.
The only thing I can possibly liken the exhaust note to is a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the last time I heard one of those at full-tilt, I likened it to a V8 supercar. The exhaust note is absolutely gob-smacking and is just what the doctor ordered for FPV diehards.
The GT-P scores high-performance brakes powered by Brembo. Measuring 355 x 32mm at the front and 330 x 28mm at the rear, the six-piston/four-piston (front/rear) cross-drilled and slotted brakes pull the portly GT-P up in spectacular fashion.
Brake pedal feel is excellent. The pedal transition is linear and firm, but offers confidence in all facets of braking. The brakes remain consistently active during hard braking, even during torturous periods on a race track.
The one aspect of the package Prodrive and FPV haven’t appeared to work on is the handling. The GT-P still feels overweight and too floaty for my liking. Although the steering feels firm and feels connected to the road, upon turn-in there is too much body roll that is carried into the corner. This results in an uneasy feeling mid-corner and far too much twitchiness from the rear end when the driver powers out of a corner.
It would be great to see some very firm suspension to reign in the body roll, which is something HSV has had over the blue oval for some time.
The GT-P starts at $81,540, but the real value for money is had with the GS, which starts at $51,990 for the manual Ute and $56,990 for the manual sedan, with the main compromises being a 20kW power difference and non-Brembo brakes.
Unconfirmed reports from aftermarket tuning companies are suggesting that the new supercharged V8 is producing between 305 and 315kW at the wheels on a dynamometer. If that’s anything to go by, HSV have a serious problem on their hands.
If Ford was to sharpen up the handling characteristics of the new heavyweight GT-P, there would be no reason to set foot in a HSV dealership. Kudos to FPV and Prodrive for a stellar job producing one of Australia’s fastest cars, ever.
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