Car reviews - FPV - F6
Still a world-class Ford from behind the wheel, the idea of a less-lairy FPV, strong performance on offer
Room for improvement
To seduce Europhiles FPV needs to go further visually, post VE/E-series, BFII Falcons beginning to feel dated (but don’t drive like it)
31 Oct 2006
FPV IS deadly serious about blossoming – let alone surviving – in the tough world of big Australian six-cylinder and V8 performance sedans.
And while its new Force 6 and Force 8 luxury-sports strategy is not really fresh as a flower – even Ford did it way back with the XB Falcon GT-replacing XC Fairmont GXL in 1976 – there is something tangibly intriguing about experiencing a more-sophisticated FPV GT-P or F6 Typhoon.
With a nod to the old school American and European sedans of the 1960s, the considered smattering of chrome against a more sedate coloured body gives the Force models a classier appearance against their lairier stablemates.
What it also does is bring out the inherent German surfacing and detailing that so lifted the 2002 BA Falcon from its sad-sack AU predecessor.
This is most obvious around the boot and tail-lights, that have long offered Audi-esque looks, but which have been lost in the groundswell of a million beaten-up Falcon taxis carving us up in traffic and – quite ironically – not using their indicators often enough.
Elegantly serious-looking wheels and subtle body kit also do their bit to lift the FPV, even if the mesh grille and Force 8 bonnet bulge are reminders that this particular member of the family still has a boorish party streak, like a bawdy uncle at a wedding.
And the interior treatment – especially with the sumptuously Italianesque red leather seats and barely-there woodgrain finish matched by matt chrome trim – is smartly contemporary, underlining how progressive BA interior guru (and more recently VE Commodore cabin creator) Sharon Gauci was all those years ago.
Unfortunately the basic AU body structure – hit-your-head door openings, slightly confined windscreen header and curiously too-small steering wheel position – undermine the FPV cars more than ever. Roll on 2008’s next-generation models.
Yet, underneath all the upmarket makeover of this ageing workhorse beats the heart of a classic Australian thoroughbred.
As with all of the latest fast Falcon-based Fords, the multi-link rear suspension is backed up by a solid body, an optimised steering system and advanced electronic drivetrain aids to make the FPV BFII still more than competitive in the handling and roadholding stakes.
Even with all the newer machinery out there, you still find yourself marvelling at the high dynamic standards that these Fords adhere to.
More importantly, in the Force models, it is all sufficiently refined to partly offset the high $70K-plus ask, especially when you also factor in the tantalising levels of performance on offer.
Remember how fantastic the German ZF six-speed automatic seemed this time last year? Well, it still leads the HSV and Chrysler 300C units for slickness and breadth of ability.
The ZF also works exceptionally well with both turbo-six and V8 Force applications.
Like we said in 2005, everything that Ford Australia’s engineers have done to beef up the chassis to give the BF Falcon exceptional steering and handling comes together powerfully in the turbo-six auto sedan.
It gives the car, and the V8 its head, for keen drivers to fully exploit the power and speed on offer, with smooth gear changes that bypass the hunting, jolting or indecision of lesser automatics.
As with the F6 Typhoon it is based on, the Force 6’s lighter front end compared to the V8 car makes for nimbler manoeuvrability and quite astonishing poise.
The only slightly less wieldy GT/GT-P-derived Force 8 also deserves the grand tourer moniker, with exceptionally long-legged cruising abilities mixed with that great V8 growl.
We think FPV is dreaming if it thinks BMW, Audi or Benz buyers will even consider the Force 6 and 8 – it’s just too much like a Falcon for that.
But if you are working your way up to the V8 Germans but want the same level of performance as, and some semblance of the dynamic refinement to, what the $135K to $165K-plus 540i, A6 4.2 quattro or E500 respectively offer, then at half the price these FPVs are a forcefully compelling.
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