Car reviews - FPV - GT - FG range
Outstanding engine, louder exhaust, improved manual clutch feel, better fuel consumption, affordability of GS
Room for improvement
Some visual upgrades would have been nice, wider rear tyres needed to get the power down, price increases are justified but still not nice, out-of-date start button
6 Oct 2010
FORGET the same-same exterior, this is a very different GT.
The all-new boosted V8 under its bulging bonnet has turned the GT into a rampaging muscle car.
It’s far better than the car it replaced and, from our first impression, is stronger than its opposite number at Holden Special Vehicles.
Importantly, the new Boss V8 is also now the most muscular engine in the range, edging out the turbo six-cylinder from the F6. That a six-cylinder was the best engine in the range was a sore point among FPV V8 enthusiasts.
They don’t have to worry anymore. The F6 is still a cracker, but the new boosted V8 delivers its power surge even faster.
You get an idea it is something special when you press the Engine Start button.
The Boss fires into life before settling down and doing a little ‘hot cam wobble’, a mild jiggle reminding you this is a proper performance car.
Play with the accelerator and you can hear the supercharger whine as well as a mighty V8 exhaust note.
Release the clutch, press the go pedal and everything goes blurry. The acceleration is astounding.
Gone is the doughy mid range of the last engine this one goes bananas from about 2000rpm and does not let up until the rev limiter kicks in at 6200rpm. The acceleration is simply extraordinary.
Don’t worry about having enough grunt the problem is controlling your foot to try to avoid tripping the traction control. It is not easy, given all that power feeding through the rear tyres.
The slingshot acceleration is accompanied by a rich combination of supercharger whine and exhaust bark.
It depends on the conditions, but the supercharger can be quite loud. Is it too loud? Not for us. We only really hear it when when getting stuck in, and even if you aren’t a fan, you will appreciate the amazing performance it is enabling.
The exhaust sounds angry under heavy acceleration, and is louder than before, but it could always be louder.
Interestingly, the best place to listen to the GT is from outside the car. Standing near one as it accelerates is a great aural experience. The exhaust belting out those quad pipes is thunderous, but the sound is enriched by the hint of supercharger whine which adds some extra menace to the sound.
FPV has tuned the exhaust as well as it can while staying legal. It has done some great work with the electronics to generate some crackle and pop when backing off the throttle.
Tuned to work more at low speeds, the engine makes a great rumble when eased off. It also makes a terrific bang when backing off the accelerator to change up a gear.
This is the kind of stuff that makes buying and owning a muscle car worthwhile.
FPV staff warned that the biggest problem we would face on the drive would be keeping under the speed limit, given the furious performance of the engine.
As FPV suggests, owners really need to do need some track time to fully explore their cars.
Part of the problem is this engine’s willingness to rev. It is super smooth and wants to go all the way to 6000rpm – and fast.
The engine can be enjoyed in other ways, such as its ability in overtaking or climbing a hill where the copious torque means not having to change down. Even in the tall sixth gear, which allows for effortless cruising below 1500rpm, the engine can pull up considerable inclines.
FPV has also improved the clutch feel. The previous FPV V8 left the driver with one calf larger than the other due to its heft. The new clutch is far lighter. The shifter also moves from gate to gate a little more easily.
The ZF six-speed automatic is still a great transmission and works well with the torquey engine. The only thing missing now is steering-wheel-mounted paddles which are standard on all other performance cars (except HSV).
We also drove the GS, running the slightly less powerful engine, and it is also impressive.
While the last GS and the GT felt almost identical in terms of performance, there seems to be more of a contrast this time around. The GS isn’t gutless – it has more mumbo that most of us would ever need – but it doesn’t have quite the explosive acceleration of the GT.
That’s good because GT owners won’t feel silly for shelling out the extra cash.
FPV’s lighter engine appeared to help the car enter and run through bends. We will need more time in the car, but it appears as though the reduced weight is helping to ease the nose-heavy feel of previous V8 Fords.
The suspension set up still translates into a comfortable ride, in the mould of a grand tourer suitable for Australia’s imperfect roads. That said, a firmer set-up could help tie it down a bit more as there is a tendency to float and pitch in some conditions.
The softer set-up is probably a deliberate attempt to help with traction, and that can be problem when trying to shoot out of a bend. It feels as if the rear tyres need to be considerably wider.
We didn’t really drive for long enough at the launch to get a real-world fuel economy figure.
The computer showed 15L/100km after the car was given a hard workout – not too bad at all.
FPV engineers say the engine returns figures below 10L/100km on highway runs.
One of the highlights of the new engine is its appearance. FPV has spent some money making it look good rather than simply sticking on a cheap plastic cover. The massive intact ducting funnel with its big air cleaner is the highlight of the engine bay. It gives a clear indication that this engine means business.
The new stripe kits are not really our cup of tea, but we have to admit our inner bogan was attracted to a black GT with gold stripes.
The fact that there are no other visual upgrades, apart from slightly different wheels, might turn off some potential customers, but most will be overlook this given the tremendous advances made under the bonnet.
The interior hasn’t changed, apart from the FPV steering wheel badge, and that’s OK because it still has a modern feel although we do have an issue with the Engine Start button.
These are not a unique feature any more, in fact the Focus XR5 starts up when you press a similar button without needing to insert a key. In the case of the FPVs, the driver still has to insert the key, turn it and then press the big red button. It all seems a bit naff.
Still, this is only a minor niggle in what is a brilliant package.
The new Boss is a remarkable engine. It transforms the GT and GS into storming muscle cars and finally delivers Ford V8 fans an engine to be truly proud of.
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