Before buying this car, I'd never had a large sedan, let alone one with so much power. And wow, it sure has power!
Ford’s lowest-spec model in the FPV range boasts 315kW with the choice of the German ZF six-speed automatic or the Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual. The GS’s Coyote Miami supercharged V8 engine is only available on some 2011 FPV GS/GT models, as well as 2012 and newer models (the older Ford V8s are a naturally aspirated 5.4l V8). When you buy a GS, you are essentially buying a GT without the FPV body kit, no fancy seats, lower model brakes and with a slightly de-tuned motor and throttle restriction.
My priorities when buying a car revolve around what you get for what you spend, and I value power, practicality and reliability in a car much more than a flash interior or brand status. I found out very quickly that this meant Ford was a good manufacturer for my requirements, and the GS ticked all my boxes. I considered other V8s, and mainly Holden Commodores SSs of a similar year model as well as European V8s (which I found were too much for my budget).
The Commodores I test-drove were all slow in comparison, and I didn’t like the interior, driving position and clutch/throttle response as much as the Fords. I ended up buying a 2011 GS sedan in manual for $38K at the end of 2016. Manuals were approximately $3000–$5000 more expensive than the automatics, but one of my non-negotiable features was that my car had to be manual. You can also buy this car as a ute, but I wasn’t interested in only having two seats.
The only thing that disappointed me about the car’s interior was the lack of Bluetooth audio. It must be noted that the only reason my GS didn’t have it was because it was a 2011 model. All the 2012 and newer models have Bluetooth audio. I love pumping the music on long trips (the premium sound package the car had was great) and not being able to control the music with the steering wheel controls was annoying.
Ford’s approach to connectivity in 2008–2011 seemed to be 'include everything for them to be safe and comfortable and that’s it'. Everything you needed was there, but no fancy chrome trims or buttons and no extra features. It had dual-zone climate control, iPod/iPhone and AUX connectivity as well as your usual stereo options, Bluetooth phone connection for calls and that was about it. That’s all I needed so I wasn’t fussed, but I’ve heard that it looks plain and some people do prefer a more flash interior with more features. The seats were really comfy (I hate leather so I got one with black cloth) and there was so much space in the cabin.
The GS drove beautifully. I loved the power and responsiveness of the car. The clutch was nice and heavy and it didn’t have any steering assists other than power steering, which I also preferred because you can feel the road more through the seat and wheel than newer cars with electric steering and fancy assists. There was no way really that you could accidentally put it in the wrong gear, the slots in the box were really well defined.
Coming from a light Subaru, I took a little while to adjust to driving a heavy rear-wheel drive, but once I did it was extremely enjoyable. The only downside to driving it was I did feel that sometimes when I had a very tiring day or driving after intense exercise, I felt my already tired arms getting a workout from the steering and heavy shifting, especially first to second gear.
I drove an XR6 Turbo to compare steering weight and it was a lot lighter. I really disliked the obnoxious red start button, which you still had to have the key in and turned to start. The era of keyless everything in cars made it weird to have to put the key in and turn for something with push-button start. It’s a bit awkward if you ever stall it too.
I never had any serious issues with my car, probably because I kept it well maintained and got it serviced at the required intervals. I drove more than 20,000km per year with it, took it on regular long trips (more than 250km) and it held up perfectly. The headlights were really good, the spread of light was great in the low beam and the high beam was perfect.
In terms of fuel economy, the GS averages about 13–14L/100km for regular driving around where I live and work, which is about 50/50 mix of extra urban and city driving. Driving interstate, it got down to 10L/100km. Personally, I am fine with having a thirsty car for the amount of power it put down.
The best thing I found about the car was how simple but practical the interior was, how big it was inside and how easy it was to get more power out of the engine. After a few months of owning it, I caved to the modification bug and got a 3-inch exhaust installed, which really highlighted how good the V8 sounds. I also got the car flash-tuned and it went from 315kW at the engine and 280kW at the wheels, to 380kW (500hp) at the wheels and the throttle restriction was removed.
The car felt even better after this, especially with the throttle restriction removed making it a lot more responsive, and sounded delightful. The reason it could achieve such a huge power gain from just a tune is because GSs are massively de-tuned from factory, so as not to compete with the GT. I would highly recommend doing this to any GS/GT for quick and easy power gain and driving enjoyment.
If you are looking for a (not boring) family sedan and can personally relate to why I bought the GS from my review, I recommend at least going for a test drive in one. If I had only one sentence to describe it, I would say that the GS is an understated V8 with heaps of potential, comfortable yet capable, with space to spare for an everyday family car.
CarAdvice has a great review of the GS in the official review section.