Car reviews - FPV - GT - BF range
World-class performance, handling, ride and value for money
Room for improvement
Falcon origins and FPV image means many will deny themselves the pleasure
1 Nov 2005
WHAT is there not to like about the six-speed automatic FPVs?
Fuel economy isn’t brilliant – over a hard-driven course 14.5L/100km was about average although somebody with a strong will and a light foot managed to breach the 12s.
Fourteens could also refer to their standing quarter-mile times.
Obviously anything offering this level of performance isn’t about to challenge a Toyota Prius at the petrol pumps. Owners usually factor the fuel costs in their decision to buy, says FPV.
The basic Falcon silhouette is getting on a bit – not so obvious now but it will be come September 2006 with Holden’s VE Commodore and the Toyota Camry/Avalon replacement completing a triumvirate of new-age family cars kicked off by Mitsubishi’s 380.
And then there’s the image – aspiring BMW M5 buyers aren’t going to think about cars like the FPV F6 or HSV GTO, no matter what modifications Ford or Holden make to these high-falutin Falcons and Commodores.
But this is precisely the point.
Because what makes the BF FPV sedan range – F6 Typhoon 4.0-litre turbo six and GT 5.4-litre V8 – so special are the Falcon bits underneath.
How ironic. Pre-BA, in models like the 1992 EB GT, it was the normal Falcon bits that detracted from Ford’s supercar aspirations!
Anyway, Ford’s engineers have worked tirelessly to really improve the car.
Even if you drive a Ford Tickford Engineering (FTE) TS50, the 1999 AU Falcon equivalent to today’s GT complete with 220kW/435Nm 5.0-litre V8, the BF GT seems like generations ahead.
There’s no trick, either - just expensive, sophisticated and fresh engineering.
The multi-link rear suspension underpinning a strong and stiff body, an optimised steering system, advanced electronic drivetrain aids and thousands of other major and minute details distinguish the $500 million BA and subsequent BF program from the AU.
In a nutshell the ingredients are spot-on for FPV to add its extra herbs and spices.
And the F6 Typhoon sedan may be one of the tastiest cars Australia has ever produced – XY GT HO, Chrysler E49 Charger and Holden Torana XU1 and LX A9X included.
Seldom has the term ‘slingshot’ seemed so apt when describing a sports sedan as swift and sophisticated as this. Sacrilegiously, we’re talking automatic here, remember.
Everything that Ford Australia’s engineers have done to beef up the chassis to give the Falcon world-class steering and handling comes together in the F6 auto sedan.
The six-speed automatic is a superb companion for an engine that has such large reserves of torque.
It gives the F6 legs, and the V8s its head, for keen drivers to fully exploit the awesome performance for the price on offer.
Gearchanges are smooth and intuitive to the car’s environments as well as the driver’s desires. The ZF trannie doesn’t hunt, ever feel like it’s in the wrong gear, or jolt.
And the three driver modes to choose from – normal, performance and sequential-manual – all bring small but noticeably different perspectives to the driving experience.
There are also distinct differences according to which engine and bodystyle you choose – especially if you stray from the long straights that all FPVs seem to reel in effortlessly.
In the F6 Typhoon (turbo sedan) the nose is lighter and therefore nimbler, so the handling and cornering really is top-shelf.
On winding mountain roads punctuated by bouts of rain, the F6’s body control and poise is simply astonishing. This car only looks like a thug. Think Clive Owen’s character in the movie Sin City for a personality profile.
The only slightly less balletic GT and GT-P live up to their grand tourer monikers with exceptionally long-legged cruising abilities mixed with that great V8 growl.
By comparison the utilities are in a different league due to their leaf-spring suspension and lighter rear-ends.
Like an automotive Ray Winstone in practically every movie he’s ever appeared in, they’re strong and lovable – and really very fast and just as refined as the sedans in the powertrain department – but ultimately nowhere near as sophisticated when it comes to ride comfort or body control.
It’s a great thing then that traction control is now standard throughout the ute range.
Higher-spec cabin trim and the availability of more salubrious options lift their lot in life too.
But in the end the Pursuit Utes’ truck bits have their place in a very different world to the European sports sedan sphere that the F6 Typhoon in particular gate crashes with secret-agent stealth and subtlety before then wielding a swinging sledgehammer.
Camp colours, distinguished dynamics and a refinement and driveability that were all unimagined when the AU debuted in ’98 has not only kept the BF FPV looking young but also feeling absolutely fighting fit.
The F6 Typhoon automatic especially signals a new golden era in Australian performance cars.
Like it? We love it, to paraphrase a VN Commodore ad.
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