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Car reviews - FPV - F6 - Tornado utility

Our Opinion

We like
Linear, ultra-smooth six-cylinder turbo performance. Sedan-like ride, handling and grip. Supportive seats. Precise but light six-speed transmission
Room for improvement
Lack of traction control to tame the beast

FPV logo4 May 2005

AT $51,950, the FPV F6 Tornado is the lowest-cost entry point at which you can slip behind the wheel of a Ford Performance Vehicle. For a humble ute, it’s worth every penny.

Like its sedan sibling, the big news with the Tornado is its engine, which was developed at FPV’s Campbellfield facilities, across the road from Ford’s Broadmeadows manufacturing plant in Melbourne. The F6 Tornado uses the already outstanding turbo six from the Falcon XR6 but gains some extra tweaking to deliver substantially more power.

Another benefit in the Tornado is that the lighter six assists chassis balance because, unlike the V8, there is less mass over the front wheels.

The F6 delivers 270kW at 5250rpm and 550Nm of torque from just 2000rpm, yet remains constant up to 4250rpm. By comparison, the XR6 turbo develops 240kW and 450Nm.

So where exactly does this extra power and torque come from?

FPV engineers have used a 50 per cent larger air-to-air intercooler and dual air intake system to lift power and improve breathing. The impressive thing is that 80 per cent of the torque comes in from 1500rpm and 98 per cent from just 1750rpm, delivering an outstanding surge of power from very low speeds.

The Garrett GT35/40 turbocharger’s peak boost pressure is 0.64 bar, up 50 per cent over the XR6.

The pure power and torque figures are impressive. But even more important is the fact that the Tornado offers good low-down flexibility. It can be driven around town in sixth, if you must, without complaint.

But it’s the cut-and-thrust of windy country driving where the turbo excels. Over a variety of roads around Melbourne, the engine’s flexibility allowed the car to be left in either third or fourth, using the immense torque available for press-on motoring.

Another surprises is that it handles, rides and steers like the sedan. Grip levels are good, in the dry at least, and the steering’s turn-in and feedback befits FPV’s claim of delivering true driver’s cars.

The Tornado’s suspension gains the improvements of the MkII updates. It uses the stiffer XR6 front end while at the back the stiffer rear springs from the GT are used. At no time though does this turn the two-seater into a harsh-riding, axle-hoping bread-and-butter ute. The car’s composure, particularly mid-corner through a bumpy hairpin, is impressive for a live-sprung rear axle.

Unlike the Typhoon, the Tornado does not sport traction control, which could not be configured for the ute’s live rear setup. However the standard limited slip differential is a welcome safety feature.

As expected, you cannot lift performance without attention to the brakes and FPV has done a good job at delivering solid stoppers resistant to fade.

The standard brakes are twin-grooved 325mm ventilated front discs and 303mm solid rear discs with twin-pot front callipers and single-pot rear callipers.

They proved more than adequate at hauling the big beast up quickly and without drama.

The optional Brembo package, if you can stomach the extra $5950, is a worthy addition for increasing safety margins above the standard fare.

Inside small, but significant styling cues remind you that you’re driving something special.

The Supercab ute is designed for two but occupants do not miss out on any of the kit featured in the Typhoon. There are comfy sports seats with suede-like bolsters, exclusive Technik fabric trim, silver stitching and FPV logos embroidered in the headrests.

The dashboard has the exclusive FPV chrome starter button mounted high next to the gauges. Three’s also an individually numbered build plaque to impress the neighbours.

Standard kit runs to dual airbags, air conditioning, cruise control, 100-watt six-disc six-speaker CD stereo, power windows and mirrors. Like the F6 Typhoon, the Tornado also gains the new twin pod sports instrument gauges mounted on top of the dash, displaying oil pressure and turbo boost pressure. A hard tonneau cover with FPV rear spoiler is available for $1695.

For our money, the F6 Tornado proves that performance is not just a matter of outright cubic capacity. The F6 certainly has straight-line performance in spades, but perhaps more importantly is accompanied by a refined, well-tuned chassis that makes mountain driving truly memorable.

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