Ford FPV GT Review

By: Scott Newman, Photography by: MOTOR magazine

Presented by

Ford FPV GT Ford FPV GT Ford FPV GT
Ford FPV GT Ford FPV GT Ford FPV GT
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We road test the latest hotrod from the FPV stable

Ford FPV GT Review
Ford FPV GT

 

Ford FPV GT

The arrival of FPV's 5.0-litre supercharged 'Miami' V8 changed the face of the Aussie muscle car scene. For years, HSV had kicked sand in FPV's face - the Clayton crew always able to find those few more crucial kilowatts to keep its nose ahead in the power war. But the arrival of the Miami finally gave the GT and GT-P the firepower to fight back.

Developed by UK outfit (and until recently FPV owners) Prodrive, the new engine officially produced 335kW/575Nm, yet dyno sheets around the country soon offered evidence that these numbers were on the conservative side thanks to an 'overboost' function that feeds more air into the engine for brief periods.

But this new-found power exposed other problems. The FG Falcon's much-lauded chassis just didn't seem up to the task of transmitting near-on 500hp to the road. Driving Ford's performance flagship quickly became an exercise in traction management - the supercharged grunt easily overwhelming the narrow 245/40R19 rear tyres. The soft suspension set-up that made the car such a brilliant interstate tourer also struggled to keep 1855kg under control when attacking a typical bumpy back road.

To its credit, FPV recognised the problems, so 18 months and $4 million later, we have the GT R-spec. Taking a similar approach to the BF II GT R-spec of 2007, the engine remains untouched while the chassis gets a comprehensive overhaul, aimed at making it sharper and more controllable on the limit. Just 350 will be made available at $76,990 - a $5700 premium over the base GT.

There are retuned Sachs dampers at both ends, stiffer upper strut mounts and stiffer upper control arm bushes at the front, and stiffer springs, stronger lower-control arms, a larger anti-roll bar and wider tyres - now 275/35R19 - at the rear. The whole thing's stiffer, in other words. In fact, the extra loads required the installation of stiffer transmission mounts as the gearbox could be felt moving around during cornering.

The changes are immediately obvious in the first 100 metres. Gone is the standard GT's absorbent, loping ride quality - the R-spec transmitting every road imperfection through the seat. The constant jiggling could get wearing on a day-to-day basis, but as we've spent the last two years complaining that the GT is too soft, it's difficult to criticise the new set-up, especially as the upside is much tighter body control.

The standard GT's float and wallow over bumps has been reduced, and the steering is sharper, with increased front-end bite and less lock required when cornering. With more rear rubber, traction is also improved, allowing more of that enormous shove to be used more of the time.

In short, Prodrive's tweaks have produced a more planted, accurate performance sedan that is still stonkingly fast in a straight line. It's the car the GT should've been all along, and FPV has admitted as much itself.

But (there had to be a but), it's still not a particularly satisfying car to drive hard. On the road, it feels big, heavy and everything from the steering to the brakes to the throttle feels a bit remote. On a track, it'll burn its rear tyres off all day long but no one drives like that. At least not in their own car. That phenomenal engine is also massively thirsty when pushed hard.

At the risk of prompting a torrent of hate mail from loyal GT-owning Ford fans, the truth is that, despite the R-spec's upgrades, an equivalent HSV - or even a regular Commodore SS-V Redline - remains a more enjoyable car to drive hard.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

FPV GT R-spec

 

ENGINE: 4951cc V8, DOHC, 32v, supercharger

POWER: 335kW @ 5750-6000rpm

TORQUE: 575Nm @ 2200-5500rpm

WEIGHT: 1855kg

GEARBOX: 6-speed manual

0-100km/h: 4.5sec*

TOP SPEED:  250km/h (limited)

PRICE: $76,900

*Wheels October 2012

 

 

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